Before moving to Sicily we lived in San Diego for 10+ years. When I moved to San Diego from Michigan I immediately got in the water. Surfing was my daily obsession after work and whenever I had any free time. Eventually I learned how to avoid drowning and then moved onto actually surfing and I was hooked. I was lucky to have a bunch of friends through hockey that were also excellent surfers. They taught me and protected me when I made stupid mistakes with the locals. These are the negative types of experiences that end surfing for a lot of people. To say that surfing became a part of my life is an understatement as it really became part of me. Surfing changes you in ways that are different from all the other sports that I have played throughout my life. Im afraid the more I talk about these changes that surfing made in my life the weirder I will sound. Long story short… surfing is a very spiritual sport. Spiritual is the best adjective that I can think of that implies the internal effects that it has on you.
Okay… refocus… 😎 When I found out about the job opportunity in Sicily I had to find out if there was surfing. Unfortunately everything that I found on the internet wasn’t very positive. Overall the consensus was that there is no surf. I was so convinced of this that I decided to not ship my surf boards with all of our household goods. I have been regretting that decision ever since we arrived on the island.
There is surf here! Its just not well known. And truth be told its definitely not as great as Southern California, but it has its good days. Unfortunately there isn’t a ground swell, but mainly wind swells. This means that surf only shows up when there is a storm brewing or we are in the midst of a storm. The timing and location is super important because of how touchy these swells are. Luckily there are some surfers in the Mediterrean and they have made wave forecasts available online and for your iphone. http://www.sicilsurf.it/previsioni/lamma-onde-italia.html
Although the surf is finicky here, there are 3 things that I love about surfing here:
- One is that a lot of the surfing locations have very cool surroundings. For example as you surf in Aci Trezza you have an ancient castle to view from the water. Its a Norman castle that was built in 1076 in the town of Aci Castello! As you wait for a set, you imagine yourself as a would be invader being peppered with arrows from archer turrets high above…. okay maybe this is just me. 😉
- It is a true surf safari. I imagine this is how the pioneers of surfing felt in Hawaii and California. Barely any of the surf spots are known and/or named in Sicily. Back in the States every little break has a name and a camera watching it 24/7. Here we are looking at general maps and guessing where the swell could hit well and winging it. Often driving and testing out spots for hours. This sense of adventure and the feeling of not knowing what we may find is very fun.
- There are no surfers here! We Americans are usually the only ones in the water. There are a handful of locals that will be in the water with us occasionally, but it is nothing compared to the crowds of California. Its awesome not having to worry about “dropping in” on anybody. Especially the grumpy California surfers that are super touchy about anyone on “their” wave at any point. This makes for a very relaxed and fun vibe in the water.
Just to bring it back down to earth there are a few things that are not so good:
- Its a lot colder than San Diego. A 4/3 is necessary during the winter. I also have booties and a hoodie. For perspective… Sicily is on the same latitude as Delaware.
- Finicky is an understatement. Waves will come and go at a moments notice. i.e. Many dry runs!
- Being at a spot that may have never been surfed before can be risky. Rocks are no friends of mine! As you can see from a picture below of my head after some staples at the hospital. I was surfing Aci Trezza when this happened.
Overall surfing in Sicily is a great experience. And if you are thinking about bringing your boards out here I would definitely consider it. fyi… Winter has more surf here just like California. Below are some local surf websites that I enjoy and some surf shops. Also followed by some pictures for visual proof of waves. 🙂 I will have future posts about surf in Sicily.
http://www.dnashock.com/ – Catania area surf store with some boards on hand
http://www.surfshop.it/component/sobi2/w-point_311.html – W Point in Catania is a surf store but does not have many boards on hand, but you can order boards. I got my board from these guys.
http://www.surfside.it/ – Surf store in Palermo that has a good amount of boards.
My friend Carlo takes some great pictures of the surf and Sicily. Some of his pictures are below and his website has more:
The injury didn’t stop me from returning to Acitrezza for surf many more times, since it’s my favorite spot in Sicily. (helps that its right down the street too!!)