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Chasing waves, wine and women in the Mediterranean
Words and Photos By Jon Steele
"When in Rome!" Three words that quickly became our battle cry, as we slammed back shots of Lemoncello, gorged ourselves on strange seafood, partied like rock stars, and looked for surf every morning.
We had no idea what to expect upon arriving in Italy. But when Sean Taylor, Dane Johnson, Florida's Alek Parker, and I were greeted by Emiliano Cataldi -- local surfer and all-around-badass -- the trip immediately met expectations of the unexpected. Minutes later we were whisked away amid Roman ruins as the cold rain fell. For the next week and a half, the surf was stormy but expected to get better just outside of Rome, and we were thrilled to be there.
My ignorance presumed Italy to be home to a snooty "Euro " scene where everyone hated Americans. But it was far from the case. In our experience, the Italians hatred begins and ends with the French, and new friends quickly came out of the woodwork to meet “Ëthe traveling surfers.”
The first swell was met at a right-hander that had never been photographed before due to the fact that the Mediterranean Sea produces quick and fickle surf. We quickly learned that there are plenty of waves to be discovered in the south, an area most northern surfers don't visit due to the lack of information on wave consistency and short swell periods. Also, what adds to the obscurity of the south is that there just aren’t that many surfers in the area.
After our first session we were welcomed out of the cold with Lemoncello shots, a homemade liquor made out of lemon rinds, the finest wine I have ever had, and a lovely young woman-friend of Emi's prepared homemade spaghetti that was unforgettable.
We surfed waves that were hard to pronounce, but still enjoyed nonetheless. Shorebreaks, cobblestone points, right-handed slabs on top of old roman eel farms, windy, offshore, double ups, and harbor reforms were all versions of our foreign plaground. Shooting off ofË roman ruins, overlooking the waves was beyond comprehension. It was mindblowing. It was easy to see why the Romans considered this place the center of the world.
Candlelit bars with the finest, most stylish women I’ve ever laid eyes on were frequented nightly. In the morning, after a night of partying like European rock stars, we would head to the local cafe for espresso shots and a quick bite before setting off for the day in search of waves.
Sardenia was reachable by a seven-hour ferry ride with lush hillsides and sheep galore. The water temp at the time required a 4 mm wetsuit, but we were told that the surf was good year round, and trunkable during the summer months. After surfing we would shed our jackets and sweaters to enjoy fine beers, Panninis, olives, salami and local music. People watching quickly became an impromptu hobby we enjoyed bested only by the ridiculous amounts of food we put away.
Before departing, we enjoyed looking at the past, the present and discussing the f7uture with friends. It has since been one of my favorite trips with great surf, weather, and some skateboarding thrown in. With so much to take in and explore, it was a history lesson you can't learn in school.