Surfing in Italy

A long, thin peninsula bounded on one side by the Adriatic and on the other by the Mediterranean, Italy has 8000 kilometres of coastline upon which good waves can occasionally be found.

The western coast is far more consistent than the Adriatic, with the outside edge of the island of Sardinia producing some of the best surf in the whole of the Med. A pair of reefs known as Capo Manu and Mino Capa can produce tubes of up to eight feet. Contrary to popular belief the rocky south-west facing coast at the bottom of the country, and including Sicily and Sardinia, does receive consistent small to medium waves throughout the year. As usual the best time to go is Autumn and Winter when Atlantic storms cross over Western Europe and manage to push up into the Mediterranean.

Surfing was slow to take off in Italy, although it has been practised by a few pioneering souls (apparently in diving suits and woolly socks) since the 60s. It was not until 1978 that the first surf shop opened, in Viareggio, just north of Pisa. There are now around 50 shops serving around 20 000 surfers, while The Italian Surfing Federation has 30 affiliated clubs and organizes 3-4 annual contests which lead up to an Italian National Championship.

The clean waters, surprisingly good waves and super-friendly vibe make Sardinia an alluring destination, if slightly more tricky to get to than the mainland spots clustered around Livorno and Genoa such as Varazze, a heavy hollow, crowded reef and Levanto, one of Italy's biggest lefts.

Most of Italy's home grown surfers live in and around Rome, where if you can take the unsavoury water you should head to the port of Santa Marinella, which can handle a big swell.