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Cycling tourism

Giro d'italia

Stage 14 | Santena - Torino

Duration
8 days
Difficulty
Hard
Best Period
May, June, September

The echo of history. The sober elegance of Piedmont’s capital city. The green hills. All this is enough to make the route described here special. On top of that, the taste for a challenge, because of the ceaseless ascents and descents, and you are ready to get on the saddle.

 

The city in a green amphitheatre

The navel of this itinerary is Turin, lying on the western edge of the Po Valley, where the Dora Riparia and the river Po meet. The city enjoys the embrace of nature all around. To the west is the profile of the Alpine arc, and close to the city is the wonderful La Mandria Nature Park, which became a regional protected area in 1978 – it is a lowland forest in which centuries-old oak woods alternate with meadows and artificial lakes. To the east and descending towards the south, the Colline Torinesi hillside, which together with the Parco del Po, have been declared a Unesco Italian Biosphere Reserve: a green belt that begins with the Colle di Superga, with its unmistakable silhouette, and continues in a succession of lesser known but equally enchanting parks, such as the Parco della Maddalena, the Parco Leopardi and the Parco del Nobile.

 

On the saddle through Torino and its surroundings

It is a round ride through the greenery that envelops Turin, up and down the hills, and then into the city that is the symbol of Savoy elegance. But beware not to fall into the trap: from the town the hills appear gentle and inviting but in riding your bike they test your muscles and your breath. It is no coincidence that this route, which retraces stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia 2022, has a very challenging elevation gain (3,000 metres), reminiscent of the great exploits of cycling history. But for those of you who love cycling, there is always a plan B: take it easy and alternate the tougher sections with a cultural visit, a siesta in the shade of a century-old plant or a gourmet lunch.

In Santena, under the sign of history

gir d italia 14 villa cavour

Before being the start of this itinerary, Santena is the hometown of a man who made the history of our country, Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, the maker of the Unification of Italy (in 1861). Immersing yourself in his life, before getting onto the saddle, is an experience not to be missed. Just plan a visit to the Castle at the centre of the Foundation dedicated to him. It is an 18th-century villa that belonged to the Benso family and has been transformed into a house-museum that recounts the lifestyle of the statesman and the ruling class of the time. The villa is nestled in a splendid English-style garden with hundred-year-old plane trees and several buildings, including Cavour’s tomb – declared a national monument in 1911. From history to good food – Santena is also known for its asparagus, one of the varieties most appreciated by chefs and fine palates. After the due tasting, you are free to take the first stretch of road: about 35 kilometres around the city belt, as far as Sambuy, a small hamlet of San Mauro Torinese. Enjoy it, because from now on the plain is over.

In Superga, under the sign of myth

giro d italia 14 basilica di superga

After a gruelling climb, there is always a splendid view. It is the same now with the Collina di Superga standing out in front of you: it is time to tackle the 5-kilometre climb at 10 percent, topping out at 15 percent. As you reach the top, your thoughts quickly turn to the Grande Torino, the award-winning football team that on 4 May 1949 travelled on the plane that crashed on this hill. After the dutiful homage to the plaque, don’t be in a hurry to get back on the saddle. Instead, visit the Basilica with its perfectly symmetrical bell towers and marvellous Baroque dome, built in 1731 to a design by architect Filippo Juvarra. At this point, make sure your water bottle is filled with water and your lungs full of oxygen. The Colle della Maddalena (715 metres) , the highest of those overlooking Turin, awaits you: a shorter ascent than the previous one, but one that climbs a narrow forest road reaching a 20 percent gradient.

In Turin, in the sign of culture

giro d italia 14 torino

The athletes racing the fourteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia 2022, which inspires this itinerary, travel the central part of this course twice. Do you feel like emulating them? Think about it. The descent from Colle della Maddalena is anything but a walk. The road runs down to Valsalice with some sections passing through dwellings and then climbs at quite a steep gradient to the Parco del Nobile, with oak and beech trees, where you can stop for a refreshing break if necessary. You have another 4 kilometres of descent left to go, often on narrow carriageways, before you get to Turin. Now you can catch your breath. How? There is no shortage of ideas. You can walk under the arcades and along the boulevards, enjoying the mix of Art Nouveau, medieval and Baroque architecture in Turin. Let be seduced by the mummies of the Egyptian Museum, the second most important in the world dedicated to the ancient civilisation that developed on the banks of the Nile. Or visit the Royal Museums, with the elegant Royal Palace, the Royal Armoury, the Sabauda Gallery and the Museum of Antiquities. Finally, if you have left your heart in Santena, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Museo del Risorgimento, inside Palazzo Carignano, where the unification of Italy was proclaimed.

By the RCS Sport editorial staff