Race gets under way in Southern Italy's biggest city for only second time ever, 50 years after 1963 start...

Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport have confirmed that next year’s 96th edition of the race will have its Grande Partenza in Naples, the most populous city in Southern Italy. It will be exactly 50 years since the one and only time the city played host to the start of the race, back in 1963.

The Giro last visited Naples in the centenary edition of 2009, when the penultimate stage began there, with Philippe Gilbert taking the victory in Anagni.

While details of the exact format of the start of the 2013 race on Saturday 4 May next year are for now unclear, the Gazzetta dello Sport – ultimately owned, like the Giro, by RCS Media Group – has said that it could involve a sprinter friendly circuit through the city’s streets, with the stage finishing in the late afternoon to enable as many spectators as possible to watch it. It is expected that the start will be in Piazza Vittoria, with the finish line in Via Carracciolo.

Despite only having hosted the actual start of the race on that one occasion nearly 50 years ago, Naples and the Giro have plenty of common history; 36 stages have started there and 41 have finished in the city, including the last stage of the 1968 edition, which saw Eddy Merckx take the first of his five Giro victories. The stage win that day went to Merckx's team mate and fellow Belgian, Guido Reybrouck, winner of 13 Grand Tour stages in his career.

Perhaps Italy’s greatest comic film actor, Totò, born to an impoverished family in Naples, used the race as the backdrop to his 1948 film Totò al Giro d’Italia, which included cameos from Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, among others, as he played a university professor who entered the race in response to a challenge from the woman with whom he has fallen in love.

Passionate crowds are a given; Mario Cipollini, winner of a record 42 Giro d’Italia stages, said of his stage victory in Naples in the 1996 Giro that it was the only time he needed a police escort back to the hotel, such was the enthusiasm of the crowds.

While the details of the successive stages are, like the opener, still to be revealed, rumours are that there will be a team time trial in Ischia on Sunday 5 May, or else a stage that travels along the coast of Campania. After that, it is expected that the race will head south towards Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.