Italy’s One-Legged Cyclist Turned World War I Hero

Enrico Toti, Italian WWI Hero

Enrico Toti may have the most fascinating World War I story I’ve ever read:

Enrico lost his left leg while working for Italian railways, at the age of 24. After his injury he became a cyclist. In 1911, riding on a bicycle with one leg, he cycled to Paris, and then through Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, up to Finland and Lapland. From there, via Russia and Poland, he returned to Italy in June 1912. In January 1913 Toti started cycling again, this time in Egypt; from Alexandria, he reached the border with Sudan where the English authorities, considering the trail too dangerous, ordered him to end the journey, and sent him to Cairo where he came back to Italy. When war broke out between Italy and the Austrian Empire, Toti tried to volunteer for the Italian army but was not accepted due to his injury. Undaunted, he reached the frontline with his bicycle and managed to serve as an unpaid, unregistered, fully non-regulation “civilian volunteer” attached to several units.

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Ancients Doing Modern Things

I posted this silly tweet on my personal account one week ago and people are still retweeting it. Some replied with suggestions that it was Marcus Aurelius attempting a selfie. While quite a few suggested photos like this could become a trend. Is this a meme in search of a hashtag?

Either way, I hope to be doing more of these while I’m in Rome. Stay tuned for photos and musings posted on my personal and italofile twitter accounts. I’ll also be posting more Italy stories, how-tos, and travel news as I get settled.