Stage 7: Castrovillari — Alberobello, 224km
Transitional stage. Transition and cultural treasures...
And the profile...
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
Guttarolo Anfora Primitivo dell Colle 2014
From an importer: Cantine Cristiano Guttarolo is located outside the charming town of Gioia del Colle (Jewel of the Colle) in the former stables of an old farmhouse (masseria) constructed entirely of local stone. Situated on the Murge plateau in Puglia, about 400 meters above sea level, the winery was founded in 2004, and is certified organic by Ecocert. Natural principles are followed throughout the entire winemaking process, including the use of vegetable fertilizers in the vineyards. Big, full and rich. For the zin or cab lover. Today's version is made in clay vessels.
Did You Know!
That Alberobello is home to the Trulli, ancient stone houses? Yes? OK...
That the stage passes by Taranto, home to the wolf spider, a/k/a tarantula, whose bite causes you to dance the Tarantella? Yes? Oy, I am running out of ideas. I mean, there must be something interesting to discuss about a bunch of houses made from dry stone so people could avoid... aha! Tax evasion!
It’s fitting that the Trulli were inspired by tax dodgers — the idea was that the houses could be dismantled if the tax authorities came by to collect building taxes, and presumably rebuilt after they left. Italy has a longstanding reputation for being a haven for tax cheats, from ancient stories such as this to modern day newspaper sting operations where they run photos of people who officially declared no income driving around in Ferraris. There is a traditional cultural split between North and South on the issue, with Mezzogiornese resenting handing over money to a government that didn’t care for them (or, before that, a foreign power in control of the region).
Old stories like this or of Berlusconi saying it’s a “God-given right” to cheat on taxes are just that: old stories. Yet as of 2016 Italy still had the highest rate of tax evasion among the big European countries, more than 27% (compared to Sweden at about 1%). But this was actually a slight improvement, as the national conversation in Italy focuses on reducing tax evasion. I found two ideas apparently in practice now: apparently tax cheats are allowed to come in and fix their situation “no questions asked” (as opposed to “ten years in prison”). Also, there’s an iPhone app now that allows people to anonymously tip off the government about possible tax evaders.
Tax evasion sounds a bit like a cat-and-mouse game, and chuckling about Italians and their lively ways is always fun. But the sad reality is that tax evasion is pretty much responsible for all of the government’s revenue shortfalls, which apparently has its own dire consequences that go beyond what we can tuck into a Giro stage preview. I’m sure this counts as a badly truncated summary of a complex situation, at best.
But when you see the spectacular Trulli Friday, take heart in knowing that those tax cheats were sticking it to the Aragonese, not to themselves.
This is the longest stage of the Giro in terms of pure distance (the Bormio stage is two km shorter and far harder), but with the right winds the first 140km will pass in no time, on wide, flat roads bordering the Ionian Sea. Then things get a bit less flat, but I don’t see any major obstacles to a sprint, should the peloton decide to have one. Here is your final few KM:
Only the slightest hint of false flat in the last kilometer. But there is this...
Hmmm... that last right turn is a tough one. Here’s what it looks like in real life:
Pick to Win
I’m going with Greipel. On a straight road, I’d have taken Gaviria, but this trickery at the end makes me think it favors a cagey vet like the Gorilla.