Visiting Italy is a cultural feast! The moment I think about Italy, I can almost smell the garlic and cheese from the delicious pasta and pizzas wafting through the air around me. However, when it comes to surfing, Italy is not the first country that comes to mind. But there are some gems dotted around the Italian coastline.
The Adriatic Sea and Tyrrhenian Seas converge on the Italian coastline and some other minor seas. The union of these bodies of water creates different types of surf spots suitable for surfers of various skill levels. These spots also offer the surfer much more when waves are scarce.
Italy has had some world-class surfers over the years, including Georgio Pietrangeli, Nicola Bresciani, Roberto D’Amico, and Leo Fioravanti, a rookie in the 2017 CT and is still achieving excellent results in current World Championship Tours. Italy has a stunning coastline covering over 4600 miles with many beautiful beaches and surf spots.
Surf Spots In Italy
That there are surf spots in Italy seems to surprise locals and tourists because the Mediterranean Sea has been compared to an oversized, salty lake that is almost entirely landlocked with only the Atlantic ocean flowing in from the Strait of Gibraltar. This influx loses its strength as it moves eastward but still carries a surface movement along the Sicilian channel and the Levant coast.
The Ligurian Sea Surf Spots
Liguria offers some of the best surfing options in Italy. The Ligurian coastline stretches about 220 miles along the country’s northwestern part. Surfers of all levels will enjoy some of these spots.
- Levanto has almost half a mile of beautiful coastline with one of the best waves in the area. It can be crowded because it offers a range of peaks of various difficulty levels, but the long stretch of beach helps to spread the crowds evenly.
- Sanremo and Varazze are two other popular spots closer to the French border. Here surfers can pick up more technical waves that are a bit more challenging. A sizeable reef runs along the coast, causing the waves to stand up magically, rendering great take-offs and even a barrel or two.
A Man-Made Surf Spot In Varazze
In the 1970s, a huge flood in Genoa damaged more than 1000 cars. Back then, environmental management was not as big an issue as it is today, and the vehicles were taken out to sea by boat and disposed of on the seabed. Although it was a horrific act of pollution, it created an artificial reef, which is part of the reason for Varazze’s great waves.
Surfing In Sardegna (Sardinia)
The island of Sardinia is one of the most exposed parts of the country and is prone to a lot of wind, which can affect the quality of the waves. But it doesn’t deter the many surfers looking to catch a wave.
Mini Capo is an exposed reef in Sardinia that needs perfect conditions to work up one of the most technical waves in Italy. A strong north-west wind is critical for the waves to stand up, and a decent-sized swell flowing in anywhere from the south to the west will lure some great waves from this coast, with exciting take-offs, barrels, and spiky surfing companions: watch out for urchins!
Tuscany’s Surf Spots
The Tuscan spots are often overlooked because they have so many other attractions. Some great locations in this area are:
- Ansedonia usually offers some decent waves when it gets some southerly swell. It can even operate with onshore winds and is big enough for surfers not to feel crowded.
- Further north, Garagolo and Lillatro work well with the swells coming from a westerly direction. The distance between these two spots takes less than ten minutes when driving.
- Livorno is within close reach of Garagolo and Lillatro, and there are three more spots in this vicinity, adding up to 5 available locations if you have transport.
Surfing in Lazio
Lazio has several beautiful spots suitable for various surfing skills, from beginner waves to some challenging ones often seen in competitions.
- Ostia, close to Rome, is suitable for beginners wanting to have a little fun. It can be crowded.
- About an hour south, Anzio is home to some of the better surf spots in Lazio.
- Lido Garda must be the most consistent spot, often drawing crowds.
- Marinaretti and La Chiesa are on the other side of the point, and although they may be less consistent, they are good alternatives if Lido Garda is too crowded.
- Banzai (Lazio, not Hawaii!) can operate with swell coming in anywhere between the north-west and the southeast. It’s a fast and powerful wave, breaking on a shallow reef.
- Artiglieria is a great spot for beginners with its short heights and consistent surf breaks.
- Sant’ Agostino has an exposed beach break and is fairly consistent, although it is mostly flat in summer.
The Waves In Italy
Many tourists and local Italians are unaware of the quality of waves that the coastline can produce, so many of the surf spots are well-kept secrets. The crowds storm the beaches in the summertime to cool off and enjoy their vacation time. But this is the time when the waves are small and less powerful, leaving sun worshippers to believe that surfing is a highly unlikely pastime in that area.
However, when the winter arrives, with its wild weather and bigger swells, the crowds stay far away from the beaches, and surfers move in for the best surfing opportunities of the year. November and December are the peak surfing times.
There are too many good surf spots to mention on the Italian mainland, despite the misconception that the Mediterranean Sea only has minor wind swells and is not very powerful. The good quality of these waves is caused by the coast’s exposure to the many swell directions. Perfect conditions are not a rarity on the Italian coast, and waves can sometimes reach up to 12 ft, especially in winter.
Surfboards To Use In Italian Surf Spots
The Italian surf spots have their own drawcards but can’t be compared to the waves in Indonesia and Hawaii. But on the postive side, it means that you don’t have to worry about surfboards breaking and you can comfortably travel with only two and no bigger boards are necessary because the waves are easy to surf in most places.
There are myriad reasons to travel to Italy, or through Italy if you’re a local, but learning that the coastline also sports some beautiful beaches and great surfing spots adds to the attraction of this interesting country. The surfing culture is growing, although many surf spots are still well-kept secrets.