HEROES' WELCOME AFTER EPIC JOURNEY RAISES £11,000.
Advocate Lorenzo Alonzi and sons Riccardo and Gianluca arrived to an unforgettable welcome in their ancestral village home in Italy after a cycle marathon of nearly 3,000 kilometres from Edinburgh.
Supporters and friends have been so impressed by the epic journey that the Alonzis have raised almost £11,000 for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, over double their original £5,000 target.
The whole village of Picinisco turned out to greet them in a day of festivities and the mayor, Giancarlo Ferrera, presented them with medals and a trophy to mark the cycling achievement.
Lorenzo explained: "A giant banner with "Eurocycle 2009 Arrivo" stretched across the piazza, and beneath it the whole village stood to meet us, clapping and cheering like you see in the old black and white footage of soldiers returning from war.
"As we crossed the "line" a band began to play the Italian national anthem and before our bikes had even ground to a halt the crowd had already closed in on us and we were swarmed by relatives and friends. To move a metre was to receive ten kisses, hugs and hand-shakes.
"The town mayor then took to the microphone and some order was restored as we were given a large bouquet of flowers and were presented with a great trophy on behalf of the people of Picinisco.
"The mayor then made a very moving speech, which he started off by reading out the inscription on our trophy: 'To Lorenzo and his sons Riccardo and Gianluca on the occasion of their arrival from Edinburgh by bicycle, the affectionate embrace of the citizens of Picinisco, moved by their heroic undertaking and by the resonance that it has brought to our town.'
"We will never forget the welcome we received when we arrived in Picinisco," Lorenzo said after a 22-day journey of 1,844 miles, 10 punctures and a broken spoke. "To have a 'Picinisco festa' in our honour was incredibly touching.
"We'd like to thank everyone who has donated and everyone who has been reading the blog to follow our progress. We have enjoyed sharing our pictures and stories and we hope you have enjoyed reading them.
"We would also like to thank everyone at Maggie's for helping us with our fundraising and for giving us so much encouragement and a real focus for our trip. Hopefully the money we've raised will make a real difference to the Maggie's Centre in Edinburgh. Now we'll all just have to wait for the next Eurocycle, whenever that might be."
The Alonzi family first arrived in Edinburgh in the 1950s from Picinsico, a medieval hilltop village about 85 miles south of Rome dating back to the 11th century with a population of around 1,200
The starting point of the journey was the Maggie's Centre in Edinburgh, and from there the Alonzis cycled down the east coast of Britain, visiting the Maggie's Centre in London. After the ferry crossing from Dover to Calais they headed south-east through the Champagne region and on to Pontarlier, near the Swiss border.
From there they crossed the Alps, following the route of the entire 15th stage and the first half of the 16th stage of this year's Tour de France. This included the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard - a 19 mile climb to a height of 2,469 metres above sea level - which is the highest climb of the Tour de France.
Their route through Italy included Aosta, Genoa, Pisa and Rome.
Their blog, along with photographs taken en route, can be viewed by visiting their website at www.eurocycle2009.com