08 Jun Meeting The Locals: Greeting An Italian Cyclist

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Some Local Italian Cyclists in Tuscany

Some Local Italian Cyclists in Tuscany

Ciao To Our Tuscany Week Tour

We are only three days away from our Tuscany Week Tour which starts on Saturday the 11th of June. With participants coming from as far away as Australia already arriving in Italy, we are almost ready to hit the roads of Chianti and show everyone some of the best road bike riding in the world. On some route research for this trip, we came across the local road bike club pictured above and as the riders streamed past, a series of Italian greetings followed and it occurred to us that although many people assume a simple “ciao” is sufficient, that’s only the beginning…

Getting Some Local Knowledge

One of the best things about coming on an organised bike tour with guides that have spent years getting to know the country and the language of your destination is that you get to meet and interact with locals that other, regular tourists don’t. But what if you find yourself riding your Giant Propel along a beautiful Tuscan road, your guide is up ahead, out of earshot and you pass a local cyclist? You’ll likely want to greet them as a fellow lover of two wheels.

Sometimes They Say Ciao. Sometimes They Don’t

The obvious choice that almost everyone knows is “ciao” but what those people don’t know is that “ciao” is saved for friends and casual acquaintances. A much safer bet would be to issue a “buongiorno” (literally, good day) as you cycle past, changing that to a “buonasera” if it is sometime after mid afternoon – the Italians jump straight to this “good evening” greeting, skipping the good afternoon all together. If, as is often the case on a weekday, the cyclist in question is one of the old school, riding his faithful road bike that qualifies for entry into the Eroica, you could try your hand at the most high-brow of Italian greetings: “salve”. This leftover from the Latin/Roman era continues today, especially in very formal settings and where the person being greeted is senior to the greeter.

Cycling Specific Language

Along with French, Italian and cycling go together and this can be seen in the language. For those so inclined, there are on-line dictionaries full of these terms. Did you know, for instance, that there are at least ten different ways in Italian to describe pedalling style? Out on the road, you are only likely to encounter the occasional “forza” (strength) or perhaps repeated multiple times “vai” (literally, you go). Passing a cyclist or perhaps after a chat at a local espresso spot, you can wish them a “buona pedalata” (a good pedal).

Of course, if you’re at the end of the last hill climb on the longest ride, no one will mind if all you can manage is the briefest “ciao”.

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