With a beloved partner and a daughter, filmmaker Simon Kay is not one to stray but, when it comes to matters of the heart, two recent trips to Italy convinced him to make space in his love life.

I have fallen totally in love with Italy and I know for a fact that I will be returning at every given opportunity for the rest of my years. In the past three months I have had the luxury of visiting and fishing her northern regions twice. The first was an impromptu DIY style solo mission through Trentino, Lombardia, Piedmonte and Alto-Adige. The second was focused on Trentino as I joined the Fly Fishing Nation crew and Marina Gibson for the first time on a content creation project for the area’s tourism board. The real beauty of this entire thing is that I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what’s on offer but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Italy has my heart. Here’s why.

Her curves.

Some of the things etched in my memory are the landscapes of Italy. Something magical happens when you approach the Alps or large mountains in general. Especially when you haven’t been close to that sort of environment in a while. The air feels fresher. The eyes explore. Excitement grows. You are reminded in an instant that you are a part of something bigger. In Northern Italy you are constantly surrounded by mountains. All the villages are built within Alpine valleys. The main roads hug the rivers so I spent a lot of time looking out the window while driving, constantly saying to myself out loud, “I should fish that”. The landscape of the area is truly incredible. Mountains covered in greenery (except the higher peaks of course) and dotted with villages. You will often see a building perched on the side of a mountain and surrounded by trees with no perceivable roads leading there and think to yourself: “How the hell did they…?” It’s magical. This beauty is magnified when you are standing in a river high up in a valley with a fly rod in hand. You can’t help but feel as if you have gone back to a simpler time when the modern world’s tech worries had not yet even been invented.

Her personality.

This are by far her most beguiling trait. The Italians have an energy. The way they interact is so full of zest and emotion. The only way I can think to describe it is by reliving my first morning of the first trip…

After a great night’s rest, I walked around to the other side of the BnB and entered the attached cafeteria. These little spots are coffee bars by day, normal bars by night, and they are everywhere. In every village you will find at least one and it is the only way to start each day. Coffee in Italy is delicious and unbelievably affordable. It’s integral to the fabric of life there (accompanied by  super-sweet breakfasts of pastries, jams, and cakes). Top tip: A cappuccino will fly for breakfast, but I’ve heard of people being kicked out of coffee bars for insisting on lattes in the afternoon. After 11am, espresso is the way of life…

While I was looking at my fly box trying to decide what nymph to use next, Mik moved upstream. As I was about to tie on a classic PTN I saw something out of the corner of my eye, a disturbance on the surface of the pool right in the bubble line. Then again, and again. I felt the excitement swell. Dry time! I couldn’t see what the hatch was and I didn’t have time to get too analytical as the light was almost gone. I tied on what I often try first, a little elk hair caddis.  I popped it near the head of the long pool and watched while holding my breath as it approached the area where the rises were. 1… 2…. 3…. Oooooo…. Nada. Fuck. That was underwhelming. I let the fly continue its drift further down the pool for completeness’s sake. Just before I was about to lift my line, GWA! A little piscivorous shit hit my fly hard! YES boooiiiiiii! I admired the way the brown fought and I felt it was going to be a great way to end the day. As I got it closer and could see it in more detail under the surface, I realised something.  This was a bloody marble trout, a fish I had never caught nor seen in the flesh! The mental intensity of the fight increased 10-fold as it went on another run and thoughts of knot failure or tippet breaking suddenly rushed through my mind. Thankfully the Italian fishing goddess smiled upon me, and I landed my first ever marble. Nothing big, some would say small, but for me it was huge in terms of the stoke it generated. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Read the rest here in the ‘gear of the year’ edition – issue 36. It’s free you noob!

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