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Edinburgh Family Embark 2000 Mile Charity Pedal Back Time To

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

An Edinburgh-based family of Scots-Italians is about to embark on a 2000-mile charity cycle ride back in time.

The Alonzi family - father Lorenzo, and sons Riccardo and Gianluca - will pedal from Edinburgh through France, over the Swiss Alps, and on to the family's historic homeland south of Rome in the Appenine mountain village of Picinsco.

The three cyclists, who plan to cover 100 miles a day and expect to be on the road for around 21 days, are raising funds for the Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres charity.

Their route across the Alps covers a gruelling stage and a half of this year's Tour de France over the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard - a 19 mile climb to a height of 2,469 metres above sea level.

The Alonzis' epic journey will recreate the feat of two Edinburgh brothers, Oresto and Dino Tuzi, who also originated from Picinisco and who embarked on the same challenge in 1950 -  on a tandem. Oresto, now in his 80s, will be there to wish the Alonzis bon voyage on June 27.

Lorenzo (45) is a practising advocate and a member of the Faculty of Advocates. Riccardo (19) is a former pupil and Dux of George Heriot's School, and Gianluca (17) is in 5th year there, presently sitting his Highers.

Lorenzo said: "The Alonzis came to Edinburgh from Picinsco in the 1950s. Like many other Italian families they arrived in a new country with new traditions and through the generations they have embraced, and become part of, the Scottish culture.

"However, we've never forgotten our Italian roots and, like many other Scots-Italians, we try to make an annual trip back to our traditional family home in the Comino Valley. It is amazing just how many families now living and flourishing in Scotland came from this remote area.

"It was while we were cycling around the beautiful and remote winding roads of the mountains surrounding the Comino Valley that the idea of cycling across Europe took hold and, from there, it was an easy step to decide that we should do it for charity.

"We were already aware of the work being done by the Maggie's Centres charity and, after we had visited the Centre at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, were really impressed by the calm homely atmosphere and the sensitive, caring approach of staff.

"Maggie's Centres deal with the emotional and psychological side of living and coping with cancer which, for sufferers and their families, is every bit as important as the medical care. So, we'll be setting off from the Centre at the Western General and, en route to the Dover ferry, we will stop off at the Maggie's Centre in London," he said.

The great adventure is due to begin on Saturday, June 27 and the plan is to arrive in Picinsco some three weeks later. The Alonzis have established a website - www.eurocycle2009.com - with a facility to accept charity donations and on which, through, a daily blog, their adventures can be experienced in 'real time'.

The website also provides some background information about Picinisco as well as slideshows of photographs showing Picinisco and family pictures taken there.