Alfonsina and the Road (Alfonsina y la carretera)

The first woman who took part in the Tour of Italy.

When they reached the finish line, she had overtaken him by a length of an entire bike. She cut the rope with her hands in the air, laughing and crying, free like she had never been. Organizers, little boys, everyone, jumped back and said <<But she is a girl!>>.

Alfonsina Strada was the first woman participating in the Giro de Italia. She was born in 1891 and died in 1959 at the age of 68. In between, there were two world wars. She married twice, the first time at age 14, as a way of running away from home. At home, she was forbidden to ride her bicycle, so she lied and told her parents she was going to church. Her young husband, Luigi Strada, worked as mechanic and bought her a bike. He was a kind man with a fragile physique and died after long and painful years in a mental institution. He sincerely loved her, and she loved him back. She maintained his surname even after the second marriage.

When she was 16, she moved to Torino, were cycling was an important sport, and women cyclists were not a scandal. She started competing, and won the title of Best Italian female cyclist. She met Carlo Messori, who convinced her to go with him to the Saint Petesburg Grand Prix in 1909. There, she received a medal from Tsar Nicholas II. When her first husband died, she married Messori.

In 1917 Alfonsina signed up for the Tour of Lombardia. There was no rule preventing women form racing, so she was registered as an amateur. It was the first time she would participate in a race against men. She was the last one reaching the finish line. However, on her second Tour of Lombardia she finished in the top 20. She felt ready to participate in the Tour of Italy.

In 1924, The Tour of Italy was in danger due to the refusal of the organizers to pay the famous athletes to compete. Some of the greatest champions were missing and the race risked passing unnoticed. So, the organizers accepted the request of a thirty-year-old woman that insisted on being registered for the competition. There she was, Alfonsina Strada, who had already taken part in two Tours of Lombardia. Many people were afraid that this Tour could appear as a farce. During the entire tour, she was not included in the daily classification. But only 30 out of the 90 racers who started managed to complete the tour, and Alfonsina Strada was one of them.


RELEVANT DATA: Alfonsina Strada was the first woman participating in the Tour of Italy. Due to the fact she was a woman, she had to face many obstacles in order to compete. She won more than 36 races against men and the admiration of many cycling champions such as Costante Girardengo.

The author Simona Baldelli received the Calvino Award, the Città di Gubbio Award, the Lugnano Literary Award and the John Fante Award for her literary works.


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: TV Series, Film, Miniserie, TV Movie.

LANGUAGES AVAILABLE: Italian, German, excerpt available in English.

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