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Monte Grappa is part of the Grappa massif, 100 km in circumferance, which straddles the provinces of Treviso, Vicenza, and Belluno in the northeast Italy's Veneto region. It rises from the plains to a height of 1775 m (5769 ft). It was a World War 1 battleground and has great significance for the Italian people. It is a wonderland for cyclists, offering nine paved routes to the summit, one of which is considered the third hardest climb in Italy
The Giro has visited Monte Grappa three times. The last was in 1982 in the Comacchio-San Martino di Castrozza stage, won by Vincente Belda of Spain.
In 1974 it was in the Misurina-Bassano stage, won by Eddy Merckx over Moser and Gimondi. On both of these occasions, the race went over the mountain
but did not go up to the summit which is a dead end road. The only time it did so was in the Trento-Monte Grappa stage in 1968, won by Emilio Casalini,
a domestic servant of Eddy Merckx.
There's also an annual race, Bassano-Monte Grappa, which celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2005. It used to be a pro event and was won by Gino Bartali
in 1934. It then became a dilettante race, with Leonardo Piepoli, Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni, and Damiano Cunego adding their names to the list of winners.
It is now reserved for Under 23 category riders.
"Fare il Grappa," to do Grappa, is the obligatory climb and right of passage of every local cyclist. The oldest person to do it is a 90-year-old area resident.
Another local rider, Ginesio Ballan, has ridden up Monte Grappa more than 1000 times, 273 times in 1999 alone! It's the tradition of Paduan cyclists to climb
the mountain on June 13, the day dedicated to their city's patron, St. Anthony. The climb is now included in the Salite del Giro program.
The worst time to climb the mountain is on the weekend, when thousands of cars, motorcycles, scooters, and buses crowd the roads and belch out fumes.
If you climb Grappa by the "classic" route (from Romano d'Ezzelino), you can stop at the inn at Ponte San Lorenzo (on your way down, of course!
and see autographed photos of Gino Bartali and Marco Pantani! Story and pictures by April Pedersen Santinon - www.biciveneto.it
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