Part One - Surf in North West Italy
I wanted to share two stories with you about an experience I had that involved two very different loves of mine, those being Nebbiolo and surfing. This is part one of the story.
With my love of Nebbiolo wine, a variety that has its home in the north-west part of Italy’s Piedemont region, I set out on a journey, over 10 years ago, to visit and explore this area. Once there, I was determined to meet the winemakers I had written on a list I carried around with me. One of whose wineries was nestled in the heart of Nebbiolo country, in a beautiful medieval village called Barolo.
Being one of Barolos oldest established wineries, I knew I would be exposed to the wealth of knowledge from the wine maker, but what I did not expect was to become privy to another secret connected to the area, although totally unrelated to wine.
Knowing that I was from Australia and that I loved surfing, the winery owner explained that the area was not only renowned for its noble wines, but a rare surf break situated an hours drive south, in a town called Varazze on the Ligurian Sea. While catching a wave in Italy was something I hadn’t thought possible, I found myself heading out of the rolling hills of Barolo and onto the motorway in the hope of doing just that.
As anyone who may have visited a seaside town in Italy might know, there is very little in the way of surf-able waves. Yet in 1970, that changed, when a devastating flood saw the swollen Bisagno River inundate the streets of the port city of Genoa, located not far from Varazze.
While casualties abounded, hundreds of cars were swept through the streets along with tonnes of debris. In the aftermath it was decided to load the vehicles and debris onto huge shipping barges where they were shipped out and duly dumped a few hundred metres off shore of the town of Varazze. Unbeknown to the local townspeople, the regions officials had just created an artificial reef and ultimately, an iconic Italian surf break.
While travelling to Varazze might not be an option right now, I’ve managed to discover another man made wave created at Urbn Surf ( @urbnsurf ) in Melbourne which is one of Australia’s first surf wave pools that allows me to satiate my desire to surf beautiful waves without a bundle of Fiats below me. Even when the memory of surfing an artificial reef combined with being fully immersed in the heart of Nebbiolo country remains a vivid memory, it is one I would one day love to re visit.
Click link to the actual archival footage of the vehicles being taken out to sea at Varazze.
Look out next fortnight for part two.