Voyage à vélo : 7000 kilomètres sur les traces du 1er cyclotouriste italien Luigi Masetti

Giulia Baroncini begins today a long bicycle journey of 7,000 kilometers in the footsteps of Luigi Masetti, “the two-wheeled anarchist” and cyclotourist ante litteram, 130 years after his feat. The “Viaggissimo” is the name that Masetti coined to designate an extreme act for the time. In 1892, at the age of 28, he undertook his first major bicycle trip of 3,500 kilometers across Europe. This gives him even more enthusiasm for the “Viaggissimo” of the following year, during which he doubles the distance covered the previous year.

First stage of the Polesine at BAM!

Every month in partnership with the Bikeitalia site, we take you to see what is happening on the other side of the Alps. In June, this Giulia bike trip in the footsteps of Luigi Masetti caught our attention. You can find the original article, in Italian, with our friends at

Giulia is already on her way: this morning, she left San Bellino (Rovigo) from the park that bears the name of Luigi Masetti, before passing through Trecenta, her hometown, for a few institutional appointments and souvenir photos to to seal the historical commemoration.

The first stage of this Viaggissimo 2023 is scheduled for the BAM festival, the European meeting place for bicycle travellers, in Mantua which takes place this weekend (June 9-10-11, 2023). Giulia will arrive after 5 p.m. and will stay all weekend, taking the stage and telling the story of the journey that will occupy her for the next few months.

The cycling exploits of Luigi Masetti

“Masetti was received by the President of the United States”

For the history of cycle tourism, the figure of Masetti verges on myth. In 1900, it left Milan and went to Morocco, then went up Europe to the North Cape and, from there, crossed all of Tsarist Russia, then the Ottoman Empire to its capital Constantinople (today Istanbul), from where he returns to Italy by boat. This bike trip represented no less than 18,000 kilometres.

If Masetti was received by the President of the United States and met several famous people, such as Lev Tolstoy, Giulia will seek in her third millennium adventure the elements that make a bicycle trip an authentic life experience, capturing the sociological aspects that voluntary hospitality can offer and all the unforeseen opportunities that its evolution will not fail to offer.

The reconstruction, 130 years later

Her weekly diary will be sent to social networks: Giulia will tell the anecdotes and stories she has collected along the way. The plane will replace the boat, not to save time, but because today there are no other possibilities on the route which must necessarily pass through New York. Masetti arrived there and left after his trip that took him to Chicago, to follow, as the only Italian correspondent for the Corriere della Serathe World Colombian Exposition (The Great Universal Exposition).

From amateur cyclist to cycle tourist

One of Giulia’s goals is to give confidence to people, with a special thought for women, to undertake their own bicycle journey, even metaphorically, not necessarily so long and demanding; witness how an amateur cyclist can get involved and go beyond the simple journey, adding inspiration, emulation or any other stimulus that will manage to ignite personal passion along the route crossed by bicycle.

The stages of Viaggissimo 2023 by Giulia

Giulia’s Viaggissimo 2023 route foresees an average of 80 kilometers per day, at a pace that allows you to savor the ever-changing territory and landscapes. July 13 will be a new stage, with a flight from London to New York, where she will resume cycling, landing in Albany, Buffalo, Niagara, Lake Erie and Chicago.

It will stop there for a few days before returning to the Expo site, for a kind of tribute to this bicycle anarchist. The return trip to New York will extend to Washington where Masetti met with then-President Grover Cleveland.

The secretariat of current President Joe Biden has been informed of the initiative and, without having any illusions about the reception that will be reserved for him, Giulia will stop all the same at the White House for a new historical reconstruction of the Masetti’s journey. Her return to London is scheduled for September 28, 2023 where, via EuroVelo 8 leading to the Mediterranean, she will begin her return journey.

Bike and travel gear

“At the time, Masetti used a bike that probably weighed around 20 kg empty”

At the time, Masetti was using a bicycle that probably weighed around 20 kg empty and whose passenger load doubled or tripled the weight. Giulia will use a carbon gravel bike, mounted in Shimano GRX single chainring. On the luggage racks, it will fix classic waterproof saddlebags.

The project to trace the long journey of Luigi Masetti was born from the reading of the book “The Anarchico delle due Ruote” (“The Anarchist on Two Wheels“) in full confinement, comments Giulia on the eve of departure: “I thought of something capable of giving people confidence, with a special thought for women, inviting them to undertake a journey, a path, and thus be witnesses to their own experience. With a pinch of inspiration, it is possible to ignite the passion for a new adventure, stepping out of your comfort zone“.

The stories that Giulia will publish on social networks will be postcards from everyday life, spontaneous reflections on what a young woman finds on her way, with an ever-present parallel with the writings of Masetti. Upon his return, the material collected will be used to publish a book and make a docu-film on his Viaggissimo 2023, in the footsteps of the two-wheeled anarchist Luigi Masetti.

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