The 97th edition of the Giro d’Italia, cycling’s most prestigious three-week long race along with the Tour de France, began last night in Ireland with an after dark team race through the streets of Belfast. This is the 11th time the Giro has started outside of Italy.
If you happen to be in Italy between May 13 and June 1, you could have the chance to catch the riders in several beautiful areas of Italy during one of the 18 stages held in Italy (the first three will be in Ireland).
Arriving in Italy on May 13 passing through Bari, riders reach the west coast near Amalfi on May 15. And why not be inspired by the race and explore the Amalfi coast on a bike yourself?
On May 18, the race begins in Lugo, near Ravenna, passes through the heart of Bologna, and then winds its way up to the mountain town of Sestola. In Bologna, the gastronomic capital of Italy, you could take some time to explore the picturesque area of the old medieval food market. Nearby Ferrara is a very bike-friendly town, while there are many cycling options along the banks of River Po.
On May 20, the race proceeds to Modena, via Parma. This area, known as the Food Valley, is ideal for tasting such Italian delicacies as Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma and biking the countryside.
On May 21, the tour arrives at the Italian Riviera, in Liguria, proceeding along the coast all the way to Savona. This is a great season to visit the Ligurian coast, as the weather is nice, but crowds haven’t arrived yet.
On May 22, it's the "wine stage" of the race! The competition in fact goes from Barbaresco to Barolo, in the heart of the wine region of Piedmont.
Arriving in the Alps on May 27, this may be the hardest part of the race, but one with spectacular views. The Stelvio Pass is one of the world's most beautiful mountainous roads, and the second highest paved mountain pass in the Alps. On May 31, riders reach the monte Zoncolan. The five mile (nine km) ascent is a classic of the Giro and its steepest climb - 11.9% average, reaching 22% at its highest. Nearby is chic Cortina d'Ampezzo, a favorite of the Italian jet-set.
The finish line is on June 1 in the elegant city of Trieste.
Below you can see the entire route of the Giro d'Italia: