Stage 13: Ravenna – Verona , The ‘supreme poet’ of cycling
On the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the 2021 Giro d’Italia pays special tribute to the author of the Divine Comedy with stage 13, from Ravenna to Verona. Dante died in Ravenna in 1321, after a 17-year long exile from his hometown Florence. His burial site is still a pilgrimage destination at the heart of the city. Before fleeing to Romagna, where he spent the last years of his troubled life as a fugitive, he stayed in Verona from 1313 to 1318. There, he settled at the court of Cangrande della Scala, the lord of Verona, to whom he dedicated the third cantica of his Divine Comedy, the Paradiso, along with an epistle to explain how to interpret the text through a literal and a philosophical lens.
Verona and, particularly, the Arena, have crowned overall champions the likes of Battaglin and Moser, Basso and Carapaz, and welcomed stage winners such as Girardengo and Binda, Van Steenbergen and Poblet, Darrigade and Gualazzini. To provide a comprehensive picture of this ‘Dantean’ stage – medieval and austere, emotionally intense and ranting –mention must be rightfully made of Gino Bartali, a fellow citizen of the ‘fugitive Ghibelline’.