Navigating your SUP on the Tiber Tour: A Paddling Odyssey in the Heart of Italy

Embark on an extraordinary adventure with the Tiber Tour, an exhilarating 7-day expedition down the Tiber River, culminating in the historic city of Rome and celebrating this year its 45th edition! Beyond being a mere paddling excursion, the Tiber Tour is a jubilant ode to community, culture, and the stunning Italian outdoors from April 25 to May 1. In this interview with Andrea Ricci, the heart and soul behind the tour, we dive into the stories, the preparations, and the vibrant life that pulses along the banks of the Tiber River. Get ready for a journey that blends the thrill of SUP with the rich, authentic tapestry of Italian life.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

Andrea, you’re at the helm of this incredible event. How did your paddling and outdoor adventure life begin?

I can say that I trained as a paddler and as a lover of outdoor sports through the Discesa del Tevere (ed. “Descent of the Tiber river”, the Italian name for Tiber Tour), which has been a part of my life since 1986. The Discesa is a unique event in the world of paddling: it is a philosophy of life that celebrates being in the great outdoors, surrounded by a community of fellow paddlers. It has given and taught me a lot. From the beginning I have combined paddling in the river with paddling on the sea, and with nautical camping (spending nights along the coastlines and beaches while on kayaking expeditions). Over time I wanted to try various types of paddle boats: open canoes, sit-on tops, outrigger canoes, rafts, packrafts. Eventually, I discovered stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), leading me to become an instructor with a special focus on river paddling. The Discesa del Tevere has been an incredible training ground!

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

The Tiber Tour is hitting a major milestone with its 45th edition. Can you take us back to how the Tiber Tour first came to life?

Launched in 1980 as a modest exploration undertaken by a group of friends, the Tiber Tour has evolved into an event that transcends paddling. It offers a genuine exploration of central Italy’s heart, intertwining with the region’s delicious cuisine, charming villages, and the warm hospitality of its people and their traditions. The tour is as much a cultural odyssey as it is a paddling expedition.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

For those gearing up for the tour, what are your top tips for SUP paddlers to get ready?

Transitioning from river canoeing to SUP on the Tiber requires an understanding of the river’s language – its currents and quirks. For seasoned river kayakers, it’s about adapting to the SUP in open waters. But for novices, I strongly recommend a preliminary river SUP course first, similar to the ones we offer on the Adige River. It’s a crucial stepping stone before diving into the Tiber Tour.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

Walk us through a day in the life of a SUP paddler on the Tiber Tour. What’s the routine like?

Imagine starting your day surrounded by the friendly faces of fellow paddlers in a communal gym accommodation, where mornings begin with everyone gathering for collective breakfast before heading to the river. The day is spent navigating the Tiber, with a lunch break on a scenic  riverside beach. After a day of paddling, evenings are a time for community, enjoying dinners made from local ingredients. The Tiber, with its gentle rapids and challenges, demands proper skills and gear, particularly due to the variable weather in Umbria during April.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

For the international paddlers keen on joining, what kind of support can they expect?

Understanding the Tiber Tour’s worldwide attraction, we’ve tailored our support to accommodate a broad range of participants. This includes communication in multiple languages, comprehensive training in SUP, kayak, and canoe before the event, and detailed online briefings. Although we value the sense of community from staying together, we also respect the desire for private space, with options for independent accommodation just a web search away.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

How many SUP paddlers are you expecting? What’s the typical participant profile? Are they mostly athletes, families, or a mix of various ages?

Although the SUP community is closely-knit, with about twenty regulars before the Rome leg, the appeal of navigating through one of the world’s most iconic cities significantly boosts our numbers. The Rome leg is a magnet for paddlers from across the globe, keen on tackling the unique challenges it presents.

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

Beyond the paddling, what makes the Tiber Tour a cornerstone event?

The Tiber Tour is more than a paddling challenge; it’s a celebration of life, outdoor living, and human connection. It’s where friendships are made, love stories begin, and the spirit of companionship, solidarity, and friendship flourishes, often leading to lifelong bonds and cherished memories, even weddings!

Tiber Tour team Rome SUP

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About the Author

Dóra Hegedűs

Dora is a female grandmaster SUP racer who joined the world of paddling in 2019 and quickly developed an irrepressible passion for the sport. Originally from Hungary, Dora now resides in Aarhus, Denmark, and despite her affinity for flat waters, she loves to participate in international races and is dedicated to making SUP racing an inclusive sport for women over 50 - a vibrant age where, as Dora believes, life truly begins to sparkle with fun and excitement. Fluent in Hungarian, English, Italian, French, and (soon) Danish, she is a polyglot. In her professional life, Dora is a business coach and therapist.