It is summer time. Time to relax, but also to think about the next randonnèe.

In September, some envisaged events in Campania organized by the association of the Italian randonneurs are very interesting: 1) the ‘Randonnée of the Sirens’, on the divine Amalfi coast (2 September); 2) the one called ‘Via del Grano’ starting from Eboli in the province of Salerno (9 September), 3) the remarkable 600 km from Salerno (15 Septemeber, ‘Randonnée of Tirreno’) 4) the one named ’30 pioli’ from Parete in the province of Caserta (23 September), and finally 5) the Royal Randonée (‘Randonnée Reale’) departing from Castel di Sasso,  a little village in the province of Caserta (30 September).  Overall, the plurality of the offer of these events confirms the excellent state of the Randonnée movement in Campania that is registering a quantitative and qualitative increase.

It is not an easy task to make a choice among equally valuable and different alternatives. Should I participate to one, two, or to all the five events? Of course, it depends on the agenda and training. Probably, my choice will go to the Royal Randonnèe (‘Randonnèe Reale’) as I will not be able to attend to events before the middle of  September. It is not, however, a second choice since the project behind this randonnée has been carefully prepared, and has a lot of attractiveness. By describing, more in details the royal randonnèe, we will bring to the forefront the philosophy of the Randonnée movement in Campania also shared by the other events in September.

The royal randonnée had the first edition last year, thanks to the initiative of Giuseppe Gallina and to the ‘Veloclub Ventocontrario’ Association. The project is becoming more and more defined, and will probably get to be a benchmark for those willing to organise similar events in the Region. The project includes two routes: a short one (95 km) and a longer route (200 km) both having as core content the cycling in some of the most remarkable Bourbons royal sites in the province of Caserta. The ingredients of ‘Randonnée Reale’ are four: a) international openness; b) the beauty of the landscapes; c) cultural significance; c) promotion of wine and foods. The goal of the project is to create a nature-culture symbiosis, by the formula of a non-competitive sports event, that can help in the valorisation of the territories of the Province of Caserta. The first Municipality who has invested in the project, Castel di Sasso, has been recently awarded with a small fund from Regione Campania.

The international openness is guaranteed by the presence of Juliana Buhring, an endurance cyclist who has given her endorsement to the event. Juliana has the Guinness world record as a woman cycling around the world without assistance. She is notably a witness of a way of being an athlete that is not separated by the attention to main social issues, like the fight to gender discrimination and the defence of the right of the childhood. She is intrinsically cosmopolitan, and leaves a mark in everybody meets her.

The beauty of the landscapes is significant. The route starts from Castel di Sasso, goes to Caserta and through Valle di Maddaloni leads by crossing the Volturno River, and then by climbing a steep climb, to Caiazzo. Here, those opting for the complete randonnèe are invited to go to ‘Rocchetta e Croce’  via the other difficult ascent of the route to finally come back through slightly busy roads and special naturalistic areas and woods to Castel di Sasso.

Undoubtedly, its cultural value is unique. The royal randonnée permits to make an exceptional passage inside the Reggia di Caserta, thanks to the sensibility of Mauro Felicori, the director of the monument, and to pedal on the top of the Carolino Aqueduct in Valle di Maddaloni, i.e. the infrastructure that was designed by Vanvitelli to feed the monumental fountains of the ‘Reggia’ gardens. I did it last year, and I had outstanding and touching moments. In both cases, one has an original experience of the history and of the beauty of the sites. While it can be easy to see the ‘Reggia’ from the outside, or from below, in the case of the Carolino Aqueduct; it is quite rare to visit these monuments either ‘from within’ or ‘on the top of it’. These experiences are made possible only by bike, or notably, by the slow model of cycling of the randonnée enacting a space-time for ‘being there’ that is not available in the fast model of the other competitive rides, like ‘gran fondo’, or similar highly competitive events.

Finally, the event testifies a commitment towards the quality of the nutrition, and in particular towards the food and the wine of the Caserta countryside. Participants will find  at the meeting points of refreshment along the route a range of local foods (like ‘mela annurca’, a local apple) and ‘zero-kilometre’ products. The annual surprise of this year, however, will be the stop at the Lisandro Canteens, very well known for the production of wines, as ‘Pallagrello’. It will be hard to get there, and there will be the risk to become seduced by the goodness of the libations. It will be, therefore, ‘a test within the test’ to let emerge a capacity to resist to the temptations, without losing the tension to complete the end of the route (short, or long one depending on the choice).

This randonnée has then the ingredients to be a special event. The ‘Facc’e Bike’ group will be there; similarly the Tranchese Cycling Association, and those subscribing the relative project ‘Io corro leale’ (‘Fair Play Project in Cycling’). Other associations in Campania and from other Italian regions will be attending. Further success of this project, and a wide participation to the envisaged randonnée in September will be important to make visible the slow cycling in Campania, a virtuous assemblage of sport and sustainable tourism. Moreover, it could reinforce the cycling movement, in a time where there is the need for non performative ethics in the cycling countering the neoliberistic ‘gods’ of the results and business in this field. The topic will be discussed also in the opening conference of the Randonnée that will take place at Castel di Sasso the day before the event (29 September). As a matter of fact, the Randonnée movement in Campania, is a small but vital sign of an emerging bottom-up, still scattered, and complex alternative network of practice.

Further information about the ‘Randonnée Reale’ as well as the other randonnée in Campania can be found at ARI site on the Internet.


Paolo Landri
Sociologist on the Bike


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