In Italy, local bars should be considered World Heritage sites. Entering the bar to ask for a coffee is one of the first things you do when you get up in the morning, a private moment that is dedicated to a completely personal pleasure, before being disturbed by the infinity of things happening around you. In Italy, we drink coffee standing at the bar, but don’t be fooled: it is rarely a mechanical or hurried action; it is something of a ritual, often consumed with an elbow leaning on the bar while shaking the packet of sugar in the air even before making your order. In the bar, the sound of the coffee machine reactivates the flow of your thoughts, the perfume of the coffee reawakens your senses, but is only after the first sip that everything starts to move, that you regain control of yourself, that the world around you starts to take shape. You start to perceive the tick-tock of the clock on the wall. Roused by the hum of the fridges; you glance at the headlines of the newspapers that are still folded on the tables. Bit by bit, you start to notice the other adventurers, you even manage to exchange a smile, a few words about the weather, about your legs that don’t even want to think about pushing pedals at this hour, about the dawn that is slow to arrive and the dusk that is 200km away and now seems unreachable on two wheels.
Outside, in the square in Gaiole, it is still pitch-dark, the voices of those already passing by on their bikes can be heard; the road is waiting, as are the climbs and the fatigue. There is just time to enjoy the last of the warmth with the last sip of coffee, then the goodbyes, you fix your jersey and off you go.
Monday, 05 February 2018