At the first floor of Coppi’s house is the “Gazzetta Room”, the place where we can find an impressive amount of pages of Italy’s main sport newspaper, “La Gazzetta dello Sport”, dating back to the years between 1939 and 1960, and with one thing in common: they all speak of Fausto, his life, career and great achievements. Some pages are just hung on the wall, others are “stored” in special books due to lack of space. The pics in this article only belong to pages hung on the wall, just like the one you can see above, featuring a collage of photos always with the same theme: the Heron wearing the “Maglia Rosa”.
"La Prodezza del Campionissimo" (“The Campionissimo’s exploit”): these are the words Gazzetta used to celebrate one of the man’s greatest results: his victory in the 1950 P-R: "Fausto Coppi dominates the field in a fast Parigi - Roubaix. And drops all of his challengers at the decisive moment". Actually Coppi got to the finishing line in Roubaix 3 minutes before France’s Maurice Diot, 5 minutes and a half before Fiorenzo Magni (another excellent Italian rider of the time) and 9 minutes ahead of Van Steenbergen.
At the second floor of the house there’s another room filled with pages featuring similar Coppi-centric articles, but belonging to another sport newspaper, Piedmont-based ”Tuttosport”.
Not just sport newspapers though: pages from other dailies, all of them talking about Coppi and his legend, are in Castellanía’s Museum. This is an extract from the no longer published “Corriere Lombardo”, an edition issued after Fausto’s death: “Coppi is dead”, “Coppi is no longer flying” are the headlines. The paper is hung on the wall, not far from the “Gazzetta’s room”
Back to the “Gazzetta room” now, where we can find not just the pink pages of the Italian newspaper, but also this very unusual bike of the same color, inside a plexiglass case. It seems a REAL bike painted in pink, but actually it’s a 3-hectogram masterpiece, the brainchild of a Milanese artist, made up of paper sheets skilfully combined and stuck together.
A different view of the “Bicicletta Rosa”: the wheels, pedals, handlebars, frame etc … everything is made of paper !!!
As you step outside the Gazzetta room and move to the second floor, you might think of being in a kind of scary movie: couldn’t be more far from the truth. The five “characters” you see in the pic above are nothing else than the reproductions of Coppi and some of his teammates and assistants, inside what is nothing else but the reproduction of Biagio Cavanna’s house.
Mr. Cavanna was Fausto Coppi’s blind soigneur, but also the man who “discovered” the Campionissimo and first realized how talented the tall, slim boy from Castellanía was. Cavanna launched Fausto, and helped him all through his career, constantly staying besides him, even in the most difficult times.
A former boxeur and rider (with modest results), Biagio Cavanna, also known as "the magician of the muscles", got blind at the age of 40. He made the acquaintance of Coppi as he lived near the grocer shop in Novi Ligure where young Fausto got his first job (as shop assistant). Cavanna turned his house in Novi’s Via Castello into a kind of “Cycling Center”, somehow similar to the Belgium-based “school” we talked of in several DP’s articles and rider diaries. It was not reserved for Americans and English-speakers in general, but to local, skilled riders from the Novi Ligure area, who lodged there and were taught “the art of riding a bike”.
Cavanna was also manager of a small Amateur squad. the S.I.O.F., who dominated the local scene both before and right after World War II, and many of its members joined Fausto Coppi in the ranks of the Bianchi professional team since 1946 on. Among these guys are worthy of a mention the likes of Ettore Milano, Andrea Carrea (Fausto’s two most loyal and known domestiques), Serse Coppi himself and Franco Giacchero, all of them from Novi Ligure or the outskirts.
In the room you can see the five “dummies” of Cavanna, Fausto and Serse (the latter standing on his feet) Coppi, Milano and Carrea, around the table, while having supper and talking about race tactics or anything else.
One more view of the “scary” room, taken from the other side. Serse Coppi is not part of this pic, while Fausto is at the center, besides Cavanna (obviously the blind soigneur is the one wearing black glasses). Another former soigneur of the “Campionissimo”, Giannetto Cimurri, passed away a few days ago.
This is the end of Part 3 of the “Fausto Coppi – the Legend” Special Report” on the Daily Peloton. The fourth and final part will be online in a couple of days. Stay tuned !!!
Click on the links below to get access to all previous pages of the report.
Fausto Coppi – The Legend: Part 1
* PAGE 1 (Introduction: Coppi’s life and legend)
* PAGE 2 (Castellanía and the Museum)
Fausto Coppi – The Legend: Part 2
* PAGE 3 (Outside the Museum)
* PAGE 4 (Inside the Museum – Historical Pics)
Fausto Coppi – The Legend: Part 3
* PAGE 5 (Historical Bikes)