When you think of Italy, the first images that spring to mind are probably of rustic Tuscan villas baking in the summer sun, the glistening Mediterranean coast of the Cinque Terre, or the awe-inspiring Roman ruins that litter the country.
Despite these images of ‘la dolce vita’ that have become so closely associated with Italy over the years, Italians are also known to take their recreational activities incredibly seriously. This applies as much to the winter sports activities that the northern Italians get up to, as it does to the wide range of water sports that are practiced throughout the country.
As a country with—quite literally—hundreds of days of sunshine per year, it is little surprise that Italians have taken to water sports with such enthusiasm.
Italy is a country that is spoiled geographically when it comes to water sports, with gorgeous, temperate lakes in the north, as well as 4,900 miles of golden coastline surrounding the country.
When summer rolls around, Italy’s many beaches are packed with throngs of people. Temperatures in some parts of the country will regularly hit one hundred degrees or more, so water sports are the perfect way to cool down.
Here are some of the most popular water sports that Italians and visitors to the country indulge in throughout the year.
One of the more unusual water sports that is popular in Italy—at least, popular amongst spectators—is cliff diving.
Although cliff diving has been practiced by Italians for hundreds of years throughout the country, the development of this adrenaline-filled activity into a competitive sport has been boosted by the support of Red Bull, a company known for its sponsorship of extreme sports.
In fact, you can now even place sportsbook wagers in Pennsylvania on cliff diving events around the world, just as you would on any other spectator sport. This is great news for all you sports betting fans out there.
Red Bull has been holding cliff diving events in Italy for many years, with the Italian round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series having been held in Polignano a Mare since 2009.
These events are quite spectacular, with athletes diving from platforms placed as high as 27 metres above the sea. The combination of the stunning Italian coastline and the sheer technical skill of the divers makes for truly incredible viewing. And when you add into the mix the danger involved in what they are doing, you can’t help but look on in complete awe.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
The Mediterranean Sea is filled with all manner of weird and wonderful aquatic life, so it’s no surprise that scuba diving and snorkelling have exploded in popularity in Italy in recent years.
Scuba diving tends to attract more serious divers, because you need to get various certifications before you can strap on an oxygen tank and go deep under the surface of the ocean. On the other hand, snorkelling is a much simpler activity. The equipment is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, which explains why it has become so popular among both young and old alike.
Italy is a great destination for snorkelling in the summer as the Mediterranean stays relatively warm. It also benefits from being crystal clear, so it’s perfect for those wanting to spot aquatic creatures.
Surfing and Kitesurfing
For those looking for a slightly more physically demanding activity, Italy is a great country for both surfing and kitesurfing. Although Italy is not traditionally listed among the top surfing destinations in the world, places like Levanto on the Ligurian coastline and Ansedonia in Tuscany are gaining reputations as excellent surfing spots.
There are dozens of other beaches spread across the country that are perfect for both surfing and kitesurfing. And perhaps best of all, once you have finished up for the day you can chill on the beach while enjoying an ice-cold beer, a pizza, and maybe even a gelato or two.
So if you fancy taking a break from the cold winters of Pennsylvania, we heartily recommend packing up your surfboard and booking yourself a trip to Italy this spring or summer.
Another water sport that has remained consistently popular over the years is water skiing.
Water skiing was invented in the late 1920s by the adrenaline junkie Ralph Samuelson, who was looking for a way to combine his love of skiing with his love of being on the water.
Although water is quite different to ski on when compared to snow, water skiing requires many of the same physical skills as snow skiing. These include agility, endurance, and balance—all of which get tested when you strap on some skis and grab that tow rope.
Italy has numerous spots across the country that are perfect for water skiing. And if the beaches of the Sardinian coast get too crowded in the summer months, you can always head north to Lake Garda to get a water skiing session in.
Canoeing and Kayaking
In terms of the more traditional water sports that are popular across the country, canoeing and kayaking have both built up a steady following over the years.
This makes perfect sense given the sheer variety of great locations where one can canoe and kayak, from the gorgeous coastline that surrounds the country, to the many lakes and rivers that are dotted around Italy.
Both rigid and inflatable kayaking are popular, with sea kayaking becoming particularly popular in recent years. Stand-up paddleboarding is also drawing new fans across the country.
Canoeing and kayaking are by far the most accessible water sports that are popular in Italy. People of all ages can get started relatively easily, given that no special training is required. You simply need to put on a lifejacket, hop into a boat, and start paddling.
Not only is kayaking a great way to get fit and strong, it is also the perfect way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery that Italy has to offer. And we can think of few things we would rather be doing on a hot summer’s day than lazily paddling along Italy’s endless coastline!