By Lesley Taylor
Whilst on holiday on Lake Como, Italy I visited a little hilltop church dedicated to cyclists. I cannot see the pleasure in a punishing ride on a bicycle up a mountain side but many cyclists apparently make pilgrimages to this little church.
I was very pleased to have reached it by coach but had I cycled there I would have been well rewarded with the stunning view of lake Como and the very interesting huge display of cyclist memorabilia contained within the Church. As you will see from the photograph two very fit cyclist had made the pilgrimage on the very day that I visited.
Unfortunately I forget the name of the Church, Village or the Patron Saint of Cyclist but it is in the hills on the western side of Lake Como. I wondered if any of Rye & District Wheelers members had visited this little Church. The Church was too busy, packed to the gunnels, to check in the visitors book.
I thought cycling readers might like to see these photographs as some of you may wish to visit – good luck to those cycling there – it is on a very high point. Sadly no photograph of the lake view as it was a misty day and the photograph did not come out well. On a bright day the view would be out of this World.
The Church of Madonna del Ghisallo above Lake Como is dedicated to the ‘saints of cycling’ who are represented by their equipment. The high ceilings are home to a veritable treasure hoard of famous bike champion’s cycles. Ottavio Bottechia’s primitive single-geared machine to hightech steeds from the modern era. A particularly chilling example of the latter is a mangled Eddy Mercx model with a crushed fork and crimped frame; there is also the bicycle that Fabio Casartelli, a local lad, crashed on during the 1995 Tour de France. Casartelli later died from his injuries.
Racing jerseys donated by champions of past Tours de France, World Championships and Giros d’Italia hang on the walls.. The list of names is a who’s who of the giants of the sport: Bottechia, Moser, Merckx, Hinault, LeMond, Fausto Coppi.
The statue pictured at the top of the page I have not been able to identify. It is not Lance Armstrong but I think it does cover his story. Crippled by cancers throughout his body but miraculously cured and rising to win seven Tour de France.
From “Rye’s Own “ December 2005
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