If you thought the hill skating in San Francisco was crusty, wait till you peep this shit.
None of us here at Jenkem HQ had ever heard of the Circumetnea, and frankly, unless you’re severely Italian, we don’t expect you to have heard of it either.
The La Dolce Vita crew know it well, though, and they put together this video of them traveling and skating along it.
The Circumetnea is a train line on Sicily with stops in a bunch of little villages right off the western coast of the island. The route encircles Mount Etna, which is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and produces some of the world’s most fertile soil, helping make Sicily so agriculturally productive. That’s right, you can directly thank this ornery volcano for providing nutrients to a lot of that tasty produce Italy is known for.
Anyway, the villages along the train line are pretty much what you would imagine Italian countryside villages to look like. They’re paved in cobblestone, have quaint central plazas, and are littered with worn plaster and stone infrastructure (that make for some pleasing skate sounds). To top it all off, everything is just ever so slightly downhill, which means these guys are hauling ass and risking getting pitched into that extra fertile Sicilian dirt if they hit a crack or a loose cobblestone.
To learn more about the route these guys took, we hit up mastermind Ale Formenti to bother him with some clueless American tourist questions.
Q&A W/ Creator Ale Formenti
What’s an authentic Italian’s view on chicken parm?
I’ll be honest, I had no idea what a chicken parm was and had to check on the web.
The recipe doesn’t sound bad, it’s nice and hearty. It all depends on the ingredients you get. I’ll say there’s a huge difference between the cheese you can find in Italy and the cheese from the rest of the world. I recommend the original recipe, with eggplant.
It’s also just as much about the passion you put into cooking. As long as we are talking about cooking and not buying something already made, it’s a taste thing. If you cook something that is horrible to look at and tastes like you’re eating cat shit, think about it. If you eat out every day and never cook for yourself you are missing out some of the fun you can have from food. I know it’s easier to just go out and grab the first thing that comes your way but that’s your own damn business.
What do you think of the NYC $1 Pizza slice? Have you ever had it?
When I was on Bedford Avenue [in Brooklyn], I had some 99 cent pizza. The store in front of the subway station made it. It was a simple Margherita and it actually wasn’t bad. The best thing was that they put garlic in the tomato sauce and I liked that a lot.
How much lacquer and rub bricking went into the spots you guys skated?
Actually, not very much. In some spots there was definitely some touching up to make it smoother, but no big work. There’s a lot of marble here, a lot of smooth lava stone. As Doobie said, caught in the midst of untouched white marble in a small town in the middle of nowhere, “How the hell is it possible that in every shit hole in this country there’s a square like this?”
“Except for a couple of world-famous squares, I don’t think anyone has ever skated around here.”
How many of these spots had never been skated before?
Except for a couple of world-famous squares, I don’t think anyone has ever skated around here. There are a lot of unexplored spots on the Island. Every time you go there you find something new, usually in a crazy situation, which can go from Nesima, through Paternó and ending in Pedara. Sicily is a very special area, where you can breathe air you can’t find anywhere else. It’s spoiled air, but not in a bad way. It leaves an acrid taste in your nostrils and an enchantment in your eyes. There are many peculiar subjects around there. Everything was born in these alleys and disasters continue to be created.
Best Italian skater of all time?
Who are better lovers, Italians or the French?
In the early seventies, the French actor, but of Italian descent, Gabriel Pontello began starring in a series of pornographic photo stories entitled Supersex. The main character is an alien from the planet Eros who, after crashing his spaceship on Earth, is forced to occupy the bodies of unsuspecting earthlings and have sex all the time, sex being the only thing that can keep him alive in our atmosphere that is poisonous to him. The interesting thing is that it’s a photo story, a magazine with photographs and comic book-like captions.
Another thing is that every time the alien comes, he shouts the phrase “IFIX TCEN TCEN,” as if it were a liberating battle cry. If you then also put on the plate the fact that a very big Italian hardcore band was named after that scream of joy mixed with pleasure, you can see that an Italian mixed with a Frenchman is one of the best things you can have, along with pasta al pomodoro.
How were locals in their response to you guys skating in their small towns?
I think skateboarding is the least of their problems and so they let you do it. In fact, many times they would stay and watch and are actually happy with what you are doing because they understand that it’s a difficult thing and you are putting so much effort into it.
Of course, even here there’s the little old lady who bugs the crap out of you or the bigot who is annoying, but most of the time it goes smoothly, especially after you show them photo and video cameras and tell them you’re making a “movie.” I have never had any big problems with the police, I think they have other things to think about. The crazy thing is when you meet the local who asks you for a ride on your board. If you catch the wrong people just shut up, turn around, and leave.
“La Dolce Vita is what we strive to do.”
What is La Dolce Vita? Is there anything you guys are selling?
La Dolce Vita is what we strive to do. It’s something we enjoy. Building something that is fun and done with passion. Getting to know people with the same desire to mess around.
The real problem is that I live in Berlin, Germany, and Mauro in Catania, Sicily, so there’s no chance to meet each other on a daily basis. This blocks you on one hand, because you don’t have the day-to-day, but on the other hand it allows you to plan special missions that are not just catching up in the square and filming.
We like to make videos, edit them and, before that, choose what music to use. Since we live in two different countries, we see each other very little and every time Mauro and I meet the adrenaline is high, because we know we have to make the most of the little time we have together. We are starting to make clothing, but talking about selling things still feels a bit early. For now, the important thing is to get to know people with whom we feel good together.
What could us silly Americans do better?
Maybe raise fewer animals for slaughter.
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We hope to skate half as good as these dudes when we are in our 40s.
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Chad did it the way most skateboarders would: independently and without much of a plan.
May 24, 2023 9:16 pm
This was a great article and video! These guys are smooth with it. Pure Italiano steez. Bellissima!
May 25, 2023 6:21 pm
Go to Sicily! I spent 9 nights across three towns on the east side of the island so I’m no expert, but here’s where I went and why I tell everyone how amazing these places are:
Taormina: popular tourist destination and for good reason — incredible views of the coast from up on top of the cliffs where there are most of the hotels, beautiful little seaside places down at sea level, fantastic food, close to Etna, the amphitheater is really cool, definitely recommend if you’re not too crowd-averse (it’s a popular spot, the amphitheater will be full of tourists, etc).
Ragusa: one of the baroque towns of the Val di Noto, we stayed 2 nights in the lower part of town (this the older part, not getting into it here but look into this, it’s fascinating and I do recommend staying in this part of town if you do visit). The absolute best restaurant I’ve been to in my life was here: Locanda Don Serafino. The second best was also here: Duomo Ristorante. Very cool hilltop town with beautiful countryside views. Would recommend to spend an afternoon and a dinner here. Stay 2 nights if you have some time but it is slow paced.
Modica: another such town, spent just an afternoon here and it was super cool. Town known for their chocolate. Very pretty to look at this place when you’re driving towards it actually. And the chocolate is different from any chocolate I’ve had before, almost has sort of an effervescence to it.
Siracusa: highlight of the trip! Very cool and very old city. If you’re interested in ruins you might like this place, I thought the ancient arena ruins I visited here (forget the name) was cooler to me than the Roman colosseum. Obviously less impressive but it was actual ruins, no wood floor boards on the stage or scaffolding all over the place. Very cool to see the influence of all the various conquerors over the centuries here, from those ancient Greek ruins to a late Roman empire castle on Ortigia. I believe this was the first place the Greeks landed in Italy but not sure. I could walk around Ortigia (little island) and window shop and dip into some cafes all day and all night. Also some very cool sea caves worth checking out.
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May 25, 2023 6:32 pm
we need more of alex tsagka those clips were stunning