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In Novi Ligure, in the Province of Alessandria, the Museo dei Campionissimi (Museum of the Champions) is a tribute to the history of the bicycle and cycling and its protagonists, in particular Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo, who inspired the realization of their ties to the Novi territory. In their memory the Sala dei Campionissimi (Hall of the Champions) is dedicated to them, with memorabilia and unpublished testimonies of their glory days as champions.

Costantino Girardengo, known as Costante (Novi Ligure, March 18, 1893 - Cassano Spinola, February 9, 1978) was the first champion in the history of Italian cycling, collecting countless successes in his career. In fact, he won the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) twice, six times the Milano-Sanremo, three times the Giro of Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy) and three times the Giro of Piemonte (Tour of Piedmont). In addition to the bicycle, Girardengo had an alleged friendship with a well-known Italian bandit of the time, Sante Pollastri, also from Novi. Sante, a fan of the champion, sought after by the police, was ultimately expatriated and then took refuge in Paris, where he met Girardengo on a Sei giorni (Six Day) tour. The meeting between Pollastri and Girardengo was also the subject of a testimony that the Champion released to the trial of the bandit after his capture and extradition. The episode inspired the song by Francesco De Gregori Il bandito e il campione (The bandit and the champion), the RAI television miniseries La leggenda del bandito e del campione (The legend of the bandit and the champion) and the book by Marco Ventura Il Campione e il bandito (The Champion and the bandit), ed. Il Saggiatore 2006.

“Vai Girardengo, vai grande campione
nessuno ti segue su quello stradone
Vai Girardengo, non si vede più Sante
è dietro a quella curva, è sempre più distante”
(Francesco De Gregori, Il bandito e il campione)


Angelo Fausto Coppi, nicknamed the "Campionissimo" (Great Champion) or "l’Airone" (the Heron), was the most famous and winning runner of the golden age of cycling and is now considered one of the greatest and most popular cyclists of all time. He was born in Castellania on September 15, 1919 and died in Tortona on January 2, 1960, at age 40, because he contracted malaria on a trip to the Alto Volta, currently Burkina Faso. His rivalry with Gino Bartali was legendary, who divided Italy in the post-war period, also for the alleged different political positions the two had. His exploits, including the five-time victory of the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Tour de France twice, becoming the first cyclist to win two competitions in the same year, and the tragic circumstances of his death made him an icon in the history of Italian sports and still now decades since his death his popularity seems to be unchanged.