It’s the kind of scene that sets a cyclist right at ease. A bunch of other riders, all shapes and sizes and different styles, standing around chatting and laughing, with some bikes on display, some vintage prints, a nod or two to the golden age of Italian cycling, and the unmistakable smell of freshly roasted coffee beans being transformed into restorative little shots of goodness by steam pressure and the steady hand of a good barman. A good cafe doesn’t need to be bike-themed, of course, but it helps.
The first Eroica Caffè sprang up in Brolio a few years ago, bringing life back to an old clubhouse that had been closed for decades and giving like-minded cyclists a place where they could share their common passions and pursuits over some fine espresso or a cold bottle of beer. It’s since become a must-visit for vintage enthusiasts whenever they descend on Chianti for some l’Eroica action. For obvious reasons, a couple of visiting riders, Graciela Nowenstein and Miguel Santalices, liked the idea and decided to bring it home with them to Catalonia, where they’ve just opened the new Eroica Caffè Barcelona. There’s a Sicilian chef and some staff that are super-serious about their coffee, and because they want to promote cycling and Catalonia in general, they even organize weekly rides and events. All of which makes it the perfect starting point for a discerning rider visiting the city.
Describing cycling’s connection to cafe culture, l’Eroica’s founder Giancarlo Brocci said: “L’Eroica was invented in a cafe, a bar, a clubhouse, however you want to call the place where we spent most of our free time after work.
“We cycled to the cafe; we read about and discussed cycling and its mythical heroes who inspired the best Italian writers and journalists of the twentieth century. In the bars, back then, people still discussed the world, exchanging ideas about how to improve it, before hope, joy, culture, and the desire to spend time together was lost, before playing cards, bowls and serious reasons to go out at night were put aside.
“Cycling was the sport in our cafes, at least up until the time of Bartali and Coppi. In the bars, we waited for news on the radio from the Giro or the Tour, challenges were issued and bets taken, we gathered the young children together and put them on bikes, hoping to discover a champion among them. L’Eroica was invented there, amid the passions of a generation that grew up poor in everything but hope and values. They believed in the future, they had simple tastes for real things in a wonderfully peasant Italy, connected to the land and to the cult of fatigue and hard work.”
To find out more about inGamba’s 2019 trip to Catalonia, click here!