Today in 1914, the birthday of Gino Bartali, a cycling superstar in his native Italy.

He won the Tour de France in 1938, and won it a second time a decade later.

But what was even more impressive was what he did in between those two wins.

Gino Bartali became famous at a time when his country had joined forces with Nazi Germany and persecuting Italian Jews.

Bartali had made his feelings known about the regime when he was asked to dedicate his first Tour de France victory to Italy’s Fascist dictator… and refused.

After being approached by the Catholic Cardinal of Florence, Bartali agreed to be part of an underground organization that was helping Jews flee the country.

Since he was riding long distances for his training, he became a courier.

He took counterfeit paperwork from the underground’s printing press and brought it to families that were trying to escape.

The secret police stopped him from time to time, but because he was famous, he could tell them at these checkpoints not to touch his special, highly calibrated bike – and they’d agree.

The bike, of course, is where he was hiding all the documents.

While all this was happening, Bartali was also hiding a Jewish family in his basement in Florence, and continued to do so until the city was liberated.

In all, researchers believe he helped save as many as 800 Jews from the Holocaust.

But Bartali’s jaw-dropping bravery only came to light in recent times.

He had told his family not to speak publicly about what he’d done.

He said good is something you do, not something you talk about.

Plus, he didn’t think of himself as a hero, saying “I’m just a cyclist.”

The world has decided to disagree: in 2013 Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem named Gino Bartali one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Today in 1995, musical history was made – or technically, found.

Researchers in Slovenia had come across a flute made from the bones of a cave bear, dating back some 50,000 years.

It was the oldest musical instrument ever found.

Gino Bartali (Yad Vashem)

Hear the world’s oldest instrument, the 50,000 year old neanderthal flute (Classic FM)

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Photo by Nicola – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikicommons