How would you describe the waves in Italy?
All the best waves are rock bottom — big stones kind of like at Trestles. But the best wave in Italy is in Sardinia, which is this little island off the mainland. Honestly, it has some really, really fun waves sometimes. If the waves were a bit more consistent I think I would always live in Italy.
People trip out that you’re a pro surfer from Italy, while people don’t seem that surprised that there are pro surfers like Kelly and the Hobgoods from Florida. But the surf in Florida sucks, too.
Exactly! [laughs] I was talking to Kelly and he was saying that he would go weeks and weeks without surfing growing up. And Italy is kind of the same thing. I get so many people asking, “Oh, you’re a good surfer, where are you from?” And I’ll say Italy. And they’ll say, “No way!” and then ask, “Where did you learn to surf?” And I’ll tell them, Italy! And people almost always respond with: “But there’s no waves in Italy!” They don’t get it.
When was your first trip to Hawaii? And when did you make the decision that you were going to push yourself at Pipe?
The first time I went to Hawaii I was 9. That was the year Quiksilver sponsored me. I wasn’t surfing Pipe back then, I was surfing rocky lefts and all those little spots, but I surfed Pipe for the first time when I was 12. Then, three years ago, when I was 15, I spent Christmas in Hawaii with my family. And during Christmas you get some days at Backdoor and Pipe with only about five guys out, which is pretty unbelievable. I remember I paddled out when it was a little messy and I got this Backdoor one that was super long and really deep, and it was a proper 6-footer. It was one of my first waves where I was like, “Wow, this is really amazing.” The feeling you get when you catch a bomb at Pipe is unbelievable. You can only feel that in surfing. Your heart is beating, you can’t see straight…I can never remember how my best Pipe tubes look, but I can remember how every one of them feels.