Nicola is an avid kite-surfer from Italy who enjoys spending his free time on the coasts, harnessing the power of the wind and sea to soar across the water’s surface and connect with some of Italy’s most beautiful natural areas.
How long have you been kite-surfing for? And what’s your favorite place in Italy to get out on the water?
What first drew me to the water was the thrill of windsurfing.
I practiced this sport for 10 years until I perfected my technique, and was naturally drawn to a new, more modern way to use the wind’s energy: kite-surfing. It might sound similar but it’s a different sport from windsurfing altogether – like windsurfing when kite-surfing you stand on a board with a sail but the sail in kite-surfing is attached to it you via a harness, allowing you to use the full force of the wind’s power to propel you over the water and perform incredible high speed maneuvers.
About 6 years ago during a holiday in Fuerteventura I became captivated by kite-surfing, and back in Italy I spent many weekends on Lake Garda at a kite-surfing school in Malcesine.
The most beautiful spot I’ve ever been to and where I’ve spent hours kite-surfing is the WWF preserved oasis of San Felice, in the heart of Maremma. It’s located in the Fiumara area of San Leopoldo, between Castiglione della Pescaia (GR) and Marina di Grosseto.
The beaches are free, and giant, without obstacles (rocks or too many people) and the winds are optimum.
However there are so many beautiful areas across all of Italy’s coast to practice this magnificent sport; such as the North of Sardinia, the Alghero area, and Lo Stagnone (a vast lagoon in the territory of Marsala).
What first drew you to the ocean and kite-surfing? And do you still have the same motivations for surfing today as when you started?
I have a passion for kitesurfing for many reasons!
In addition to the rush of high speed that can be reached in a few feet and the jumps that can be made even without the help of the waves, what I enjoy most is being in an environment in which everyone around you shares the same passion for something.
My desire and the motivation are always growing because it’s adrenaline in its purest state. There’s always some new maneuver to learn, and some limit to overcome. And there are always new people to meet and places to explore around the globe.
As far as the environment is concerned you’re far from residential areas, equipped beaches, and so on. You can find ideal places to kite-surf in areas where you’re completely surrounded by nature that can only be reached on foot or by off-road vehicles.
People come from all over the world to practice this sport in Italy. Even if they often speak different languages, it’s easy to find a way to share the same beaches by practicing the same sport and helping one another. Kite-surfing in such a wonderful environment creates a universal language that we can all speak even if we can’t communicate in our native tongues to each other.
Experienced kite-surfers are always available to give advice and discuss the wind and sea conditions. One important thing for me is that when you are in trouble you always find someone who can help you. We help each other as a community.
How have you seen Italy’s beaches change in your lifetime? Are the oceans getting more crowded, more or less pollution, less/more development of the land, etc.?
During my life, I’ve noticed that the more developed beaches have expanded and the natural ones have been harder to find.
I remember when I was in Sardinia a while back, I was windsurfing on a completely natural beach, just sand and some umbrellas. The year after, the same beach was covered with endless rows of umbrellas and deckchairs for vacationers. Water sports were also forbidden.
That said, there is overcrowding of the beaches and a lack of respect overall for the environment which comes with development.
What do you think is the biggest threat to Italy’s ocean? And why?
The biggest threat is us, humans!
The reason being that we are no longer interested in respecting the sea. We are no longer interested in allowing nature to run its course (see, for example, the construction of dams to contain the tides), we want to change it to our liking and we want to control it. And this only creates problems for the 70% of our planet that’s ocean.
I believe that to respect the sea, you have to know it and live it.
What do you think could be done (if anything) to better protect/manage Italy’s coastlines?
To improve our coasts, leisure areas should be implemented with greater thought of the environment around us. Locals need to show that they want their beaches to be treated well by visitors, and we need to work better together to share the ocean’s incredible resources.
What’s one everyday thing that you think kite-surfers could do better to conserve the marine environment?
Kite-surfers can raise awareness of the needs of the marine environment because they spend hours and hours in close contact with it, know it, listen to it and understand it.
And they can convey this love to the people around them, remembering that a cleaner sea is a healthier sea. And a healthier sea will be more beautiful not only for us, but especially for future generations.
How I Sea is a new effort by The TerraMar Project to dive into the minds of our global ocean community. We highlight opinions on conservation issues such as: marine pollution, overfishing, drilling, climate change, marine protected areas, scientific discoveries, and much more. Stay tuned for more.