Italian swells draw all kinds of surfers, not only from the beautiful little towns perched along the dramatic coastlines, but from all over the world.
Let's be honest. When people visit Italy, they usually don't think to pack surfboards along with their cameras and hiking boots.
A country highly sought after for its rich history, prehistoric architecture and food culture that is world class, walking around Italy with a surfboard nestled under the arm could strike locals and tourists alike as, well, a little odd.
That said, however, Italian swells draw all kinds of board riders, not only from the beautiful little towns perched along the dramatic coastlines, but from all over the world.
Surfers at Levanto with wavy sea in five lands park. Ph: auralaura / Shutterstock.com
Firstly, the Ligurian Sea.
Liguria offers one of the best selections of surf spots that Italy has. Stretching some 350 kilometres (220 miles), surfers of all abilities can find what they are hunting for in Liguria.
Levanto boasts one of the most popular waves in Italy and offers over 500 metres of beautiful coastline. Although almost always crowded, there's waves on offer for all board riders due to the range of peaks that operate at different difficulties when swells hit and the lengthy stretch of beach which facilitates an even spread of surfers.
Heading towards the French border, spots like Sanremo and Varazze emerge. Just as popular as Levanto, these spots offer some more technical waves which challenge those who decide to paddle out. With an extensive reef running along this part of the Ligurian coast, waves tend to stand up brilliantly and offer critical take offs, the odd barrel and ample sections to rip apart underfoot.
A short flight from major cities or a lengthy boat ride from the ports of mainland Italy, Sardegna pleads its case. This island draws most of the available swell moving in from the south all the way around to the north-west of the Mediterranean (and very rarely from the east).
Being a rather exposed part of Italy, Sardegna is extremely prone to wind, which can alter wave quality. It can be said however, that a relentless on-shore gust wouldn't deter surfers just looking to get into the action in some of the lesser-quality spots.
Mini Capo, perhaps one of the most technical waves in Italy, demands perfect conditions; a healthy dose of North West wind to stand the faces up as they emerge from the depths of the reef and a sizeable swell closing in anywhere from the west, down to the south. Adrenaline pumping take offs? You bet. Barrels? Absolutely! Spiky inhabitants? Tonnes of them. So keep an eye out for urchins!
But this is just the tip of the iceberg when discussing Italian surf spots. With hidden gems tucked away in all of the nooks and crannies of coastline, Italy may not come to mind when pondering on perfect barrels and huge walls of water to rip apart, but its quality, power and fun can not be knocked.
These solid swells may be elusive, but as they say, good things come to those who wait. And keep searching.
Quite similarly to Liguria, Tuscany's coast is highly sought after for its postcard-worthy views, delicious cuisine and lively towns, attracting millions of tourists each year. It is due to this that its brilliant surf spots can be overlooked.
Ansedonia is the southern-most surf spot in Tuscany and is surfable with any decent amount of southerly swell. The wave can still operate with onshore winds and offers plenty of space for surfers to avoid crowding each other, making it quite a durable location.
Further north, with swells coming more from the west, Garagolo and Lillatro activate. These spots are less than 10 minutes apart by car, so if there are waves around, there's the possibility to explore your best option in the area. Furthermore, these locations are within close vicinity to Livorno which has 3 quality spots itself, located towards its southern stretches. This means, with a car handy and some time on hand, one could choose from over 5 surf spots, all of which are unique to one another and offer quality and fun for surfers of all abilities. Ph: Stefano Carnevali / Shutterstock.com
Aerial view of Santa Severa
Offering over 15 note worthy locations as well as containing our home city, Lazio has everything a surfer might be looking for. From playful beginner waves to those you might see the professionals slaying in the middle of a competition, it's all here in Lazio.
The closest surf location to Rome is Ostia, just south of the airport. It can get a little crowded here, however the beach is long and surfers tend to spread out. The wave is suitable for beginners making it a great option for someone wanting to have a go whilst staying in or near Rome.
No more than an hour south, Anzio juts out spectacularly and has a couple of the better spots in Lazio. Lido Garda is arguably the most consistent spot in the area and therefore can get crowded. Around the other side of the point, there's some less consistent spots, namely Marinaretti and La Chiesa which can be great alternatives to Lido Garda if it's too busy.
Ringing true to Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, the true pinnacle of perfect waves globally, Banzai in Lazio is quite possibly one of the most popular waves in Italy. It can work with swell coming from the north-west all the way around to the south-east, something not many waves can claim. This feature, in and of itself, is potentially why this wave is so popular. The wave itself is powerful, fast and breaks on a shallow reef, so it might be a spot novice surfers aspire to. Banzai beach is just a short drive North from Rome, close to Santa Marinella and Santa Severa.