Why did we pick Italy, of all coastlines in the world to take the Seeababes for the 2015 photoshoot? As the homeland of designer Amanda Chinchelli, Italian tile architecture, striped beach umbrellas and colors of red wine were an inspiration, so Sicily and Tuscany felt like the perfect backdrops for the patterns and colors of the new collection.
Capturing the distinct culture of Italy’s historic cobblestone streets and romantic old world countrysides — gorgeous! No problem. Looking for waves, however, made the trip into a crazy mission full of surprises and serendipitous encounters along the way. Come along on our hunt for waves and all the twists and turns that make traveling an addictive experience.
First stop: California Seeababes Mele Saili and Jenayl Peters arrive in Florence! We spent the day taking them to see some of the famous places in Florence and then planned our next move.
The swell in Italy is very dependent on active wind. Supposedly Tuscany had bad weather but waves all summer. When we got there, the weather was finally normal summer loveliness, but no waves.
We checked with the Onde Nostre crew (stylish insiders of the Italian surf scene and filmmakers) and master wind reader Alessandro Ponzanelli aka Nelly and decided to go south. Alessandro is a Bing team rider, our go-to surf guide, wonderful video and photo assistant, plus a cute babysitter for Annabel!
After a night ride in the sketchiest ferry directed to Tunisia we arrived to Palermo and then drove to Catania to check the first spot. It was super windy but no waves. What to do? Like true Italians, we had a wonderful seafood lunch and white wine.
“Italy is a very beautiful culture. Everything is so inspiring whether it was the art, architecture, food, or even the people themselves. Each part holds a stoic sense of pride and quality that I haven't found anywhere else I've traveled,” Mele says of her first time in Italy.
On the way to Siracusa, we stopped at a beautiful beach surrounded by lemon trees. It was made for photos at sunset. Some mini waves were happening and the girls tested the first warm seawater on the Mediterraneo!
Exhausted, we spent the night at the awesome Hotel Gutkowski. and spent the night walking the alleys of Syracusa, a magical experience that felt like stepping back in time.
The next day we woke up with beautiful sunrise of Ortigia and then found some waves in the beach of Noto. With some active wind, it was still fun. No matter what your reason is for being in Italy, sitting down for a meal with friends is a highlight every day, especially tasting all the different foods of each region. After surfing in Noto, we found granita and brioche to snack on!
Next stop, Isola delle Correnti. Too bad it was completely flat, but we found this awesome guy who was selling zucchini out of his Fiat Ape and asked him for a ride. How could he say no to us? :)
Stuffed with the best rice arancini (typical fried rice balls from Sicily) we made to another beach around the corner with some good size messy waves and the girls showed off with style how its done!
After such a long journey, to finally find waves was a blessing. "In Italy, you wait for a windswell and you hope to get lucky when you arrive at the place where the windswell was supposed to hit," Jenayl says.
"The background of the waves were a stunning sight to see, but even if the waves aren't perfect, everyone is stoked to have something to surf. It was fun to feel that stoke out there with the other Italian surfers, who seemed pretty excited that people came from California to surf in Sicily!"
Mele says, "the Italians appreciation for surfing is what was the most inspiring. Traveling about 20 hours down the entire country to find a wave made me appreciate the consistency and variety of waves we have here in California. Italian surfers have a special driven love for the sea, because it takes dedication to pursue this sport in a country with such fickle surfing conditions."
The last day we explored around Syracusa, hung out in the terrace of the hotel and indulged in some more arancini. "The thing I tell people most about the trip was how good the food was. Easily the best I've ever had," Mele says.
Stay tuned for Part II of our Italian Adventure. From Sicily, we head to the Tuscany vineyards! And more food and wine, of course. :)
KEEP TRAVELING WITH US THROUGH ITALY