By Roberto Meraviglia
Laudato Si’ Animator,  LS  Circle of Canegrate (MI) and member of the FIAB (Italian Federation of  Environment and Bicycle)

Before switching off the lights on the important event of the “March of Peace 2021”, it seems right to remember and give a written testimony of the journey undertaken for the first time by bike from Canegrate to Perugia with the National FIAB project called “PACICLICA” . The aim was to reach Perugia in just 3 days with an average route of over 150 km per day. I was hesitant to tackle such a long journey, but then I said to myself: “Why don’t we  throw the other bikes over the obstacle? And give credence to the life of the Poverello of Assisi with his wonderful examples?

We joined the friends of the Brescia group, already veterans of this event, we had a brief moment of meditation together at the stele in Piazza della Loggia on our way to Ferrara (175 Km). During the trip we stopped for a short time at the beautiful Sanctuary of Grace near Mantua, a place where every year on the occasion of the feast of the Assumption dozens of ‘madonnari’ from all over the world gather and, with their colored chalks, paint large reproductions of great quality dedicated to Our Lady.

The stopover on Friday included Ferrara – Bagno di Romagna (170 Km) and during the step we stopped in Conselice nel Ferrarese, on the edge of the Po Park where we were welcomed by the Catholic Action making us visit the open-air museum dedicated to the “Freedom of the press” and in a display case a “pedalina” was visible, an ancient pedal printer, which during the World War made it possible to clandestinely print communications by the resistance.

From there, after the warm welcome and excellent refreshment offered  us by the local Alpini group, we left in the direction of Bagno di Romagna, passing through Santa Sofia in the Casentini Forest Park. Regardless of the gloomy and cold day, we passed through the deadly pass of the “carnage” (the name itself makes us understand its features !!) which brought us to our destination in the beautiful spa town known since the Roman times.

Saturday 9th of October was the third and last day and the most challenging experience from a physical point of view, with 160 km and many climbs, an almost cold and rainy day that would have led us to Perugia crossing the Verghereto, near the Monte Fumaiolo where you can find the source of the Tiber river. Fortunately, after a hard climb there is always a nice descent to tackle at breakneck speed! From there we went down along the beautiful (fortunately forbidden to cars)  former Tiberina state road that led us to Pieve Santo Stefano.

Here, too, we were welcomed by the Catholic Action which showed us a unique museum of its kind: the “Small Museum of the Diary”, an archive that collects Italian paper documents in the form of diary, letters and autobiographical memoirs. It is a small museum, but “small” is only the name given, considering its vastness and the importance of the works included, now completely digitalized. Among the many memories, I was struck by one in the “terra matta” room, the diary of Vincenzo Rabito, a semi-illiterate man but with great irony and, even more,  the diary written on the wedding sheets by Cecilia Marchi.  In this room you really find a double bed sheet written thickly by Mrs Marchi after her husband’s death, truly a great emotion !!

Once we left, we set off on the Tiber cycle path crossing Città di Castello and, after several kilometers on cycle paths in complete safety, we arrived in Perugia at evening. There we had a meeting with the other groups of cyclists from different parts of Italy (Verona, Turin, Parma, Grosseto, Rome) all converging to participate in the “March of Peace” the next day, Sunday 10th of  October with the honor of opening the immense parade.

What to say? It was a wonderful experience like all the trips we take throughout the year that always leave something to think about; pedaling in this stretch of Italy I understood once again the beauty of being lucky to be surrounded by territories of historical beauty, culturally important to discover with the slowness of the bicycle.  Moreover,our route was also in honor of the Peace and the environment that would give our world, flooded by a thousand conflicts and unbelievably polluted, a different shade, perhaps a more beautiful one?

I would like the powerful men of the Earth to understand this too!