Knowing that that the Lotties video featuring Nick Michel’s breakthrough part was due out any day — and that Nick would soon be fielding offers from SpaceX, the Golden State Warriors and Goldman Sachs — Chris Milic, the eclectic C.E.O. of Frog Skateboards, had to act fast. The window to remind his star teamrider about skateboarding’s humble joys was closing, as he would soon be speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Lamborghini Countach, on the way to his first billion.
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We first met Ruben on a QS family trip to Italy back in 2016. Milan has a tight-knit and friendly skate scene — it feels like a lot of it revolves around Milano Centrale and the Chef Family crew. He and his friends were kind enough to show us around their city when we summoned the willpower to leave an absolutely perfect plaza spot. When a spot is that good, you willfully forget that the whole “exploring the city”-thing is a big part of skate trips. (Colleagues echo our sentiments.)
We visited Milan again a year later. On the train-ride into Centrale (yes, the train from the airport drops you off at Italy’s best skate spot), I remembered out loud, “Oh, I should probably DM Ruben and let him know we’re coming.”
“Don’t worry, he’ll already be there,” a mutual friend replied.
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All product photos courtesy of The Palomino
To an outsider, Sicily feels like a skateboard fairy tale. It is where Mauro Caruso filmed a part in a ghost city once intended to be an eminent destination for art lovers. It is where Jacopo Carozzi et al. found an abandoned post-WWII era seaside resort that seemingly shares ancestral DNA with a skatepark. Almost every spot in Danny Brady’s “Welcome to Palace” part that isn’t British crust is in Sicily. A seasoned Euro T.M. once told me that it’s the best spots/cost/wow-factor combo for a not-obvious skate trip in all of Europe. The Dime guys echoed that sentiment, saying Sicily was maybe the best trip they had ever been on — oh, and, a volcano erupted while they were there.
Except what do any of us know about Sicily’s skate scene? Outside of that Mauro Caruso coverage, practically nothing. The aforementioned T.M. said that you need to pay a guide to drive you around to spots and handle things, because otherwise, you’re pretty much helpless.
Claudio Majorana is an Italian doctor, photographer and skateboarder. Head of the Lion chronicles six years (2011-2017) that he spent photographing a group of young locals in the suburbs of Catania, Sicily. (Catania is Italy’s 10th largest city.) It is the exact opposite of his first skate book, 2015’s The Recent History of Sicilian Skate Tours, which is about just that: foreigners skating Sicily.
The title refers to a cliff from where the crew would jump into the ocean, a rite of passage that signified they were no longer kids. Between a prologue and epilogue of blown-out video grabs, are photos of play-fighting, teenage make-outs, and religious ephemera — staples of any photo book about youth.
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In tune with the QS tradition of taking off to Europe for the first weeks of June, office related tasks have been taking place in Italy for the past half week. The first day brought us to Pisa, from where we drove 45 minutes to the Pietrasanta Skate Plaza, a skatepark where every obstacle is made out of the world’s best marble.
The marble mined in the Apennine Mountains along the Tuscan coast of Italy is the marble they used for The Pantheon, Michelangelo’s David, and what your favorite rapper’s floors are provided that he’s not a liar (i.e. they’re probably from Home Depot.) The city of Pietrasanta, located at the bottom of the Apuan Alps, is half covered with marble studios, each of which have several acres of gated land displaying gigantic cubes of potential ledges.
Pietrasanta is a town of just over 20,000 people, so we’re talking like a regular day at Tompkins when there’s a box. In 2012, they had a measly 50,000 Euros (~$55,000) to build a skatepark, except instead of constructing the 11th worst park ever built, they came up with a creative solution. Through cooperation with the local government and the main staple of the local economy, Marco Morigi, a beacon of hope for forward-thinking skatepark designers, mulled through the marble yards in Pietrasanta, collecting donatable scraps of rock that could yield skateable obstacles. The 50,000 Euros would then only be spent on pouring the concrete for the floor, and for foundations under the marble.
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