What makes a place magic? It’s a question I often ponder while laying in my bed at Borgolecchi, staring out at the Tuscan vineyards, as the sun slowly rises to light the day, in a way that never seems to be the same two mornings in a row.
Like everything here, those sunrises are dichotomic, both constant and ever-changing, and it’s with great wonder I ponder how Tuscany can be so varied, while life there never seems to change.
Inga is busy in the Borgolecchi kitchen, baking, carefully preparing my coffee, and some eggs, just the way I like. All I have to do is ponder how my legs feel ahead of today’s ride. After breakfast, I pull on my kit and wander down through town to the service course. All of the locals say “Buongiorno” as I pass, and it dawns on me: I’m fully decked in my inGamba attire, head-to-toe in figure-hugging kit, and no one is looking at me funny, as if I am an alien from another planet. Here, cycling is part of the culture, and cyclists a part of the community.
“I knew it was special right away. That area was the first place where I truly felt at home.”
— João Correia
I wander into Paolo’s coffee shop, across the street from inGamba HQ, where Paolo himself, donning a Grinta t-shirt, pulls me an espresso shot while smiling at me and talking non-stop in Italian. Paolo and I have known each other long enough for him to realize full well I don’t understand but maybe five words of Italian, but this doesn’t stop him from carrying on as if we’re old friends, engaging in a deep, philosophical conversation about Fausto Coppi and the golden age of Italian cycling.
I could stand here, at the bar, all day, watching as the cars pull up outside, the locals making their way in for one more espresso before heading to work.
I don’t need to know where they come from, or where they’re going. To me, this is a scene from the greatest foreign movie ever made and subtitles would only ruin the film, remove some of the beauty and, almost certainly, all of the magic.
Likewise, the day’s route is of little consequence. There are only two ways out of Lecchi, one is up and the other is down. Both are good. Are we off to Dudda or Panzano or Siena or Castellina? The route choices are almost endless around here, and not a single one of them disappoints. And at the end of the ride, while we’re handing off our bikes to the ever-attentive mechanics, Paolo tends to magically appear with a tray of beers and a pitcher of lemonade. You couldn’t ask for a better finish-line.
After the short walk back up the street and a long, hot shower, all I have to do is hang my laundry on the doorknob for it to miraculously reappear in the morning clean and folded. The afternoon begins with us back at Paolo’s, eating niçoise salad – or nizzarda to our Italian friends – and big bowls of delectable pasta, before rounding it all off with an affogato, that wonderful fusion of coffee and ice-cream that I can never seem to say no to.
With a full stomach, it’s not long before I find myself laying on Raul’s massage table, getting all the ugliness rubbed out of my calves and quads, in preparation for what tomorrow will bring. A short nap later, and I get the call to dinner. Morgaro has prepared enough food for an army and seeing as I am ready to chew my own arm off, this is perfect.
The wine flows and the conversation is animated and I have begun to love my new friends, and as the night flies by, I try to grasp just a little piece that I can hold onto forever. These are halcyon days and I’m right in the middle of them. I know it, everyone does, and we try not to speak of it for fear that the feeling will pass. There’ll be another day like this, but the unchanging magic of Lecchi is that there’ll be countless others, unique, but just as special.