Renowned for its civilization, cuisine, the spirit of competition that burns within, and the natural Mediterranean splendour that lies under its sea, Italy has definitely become a cut above the rest of its neighbouring European countries – no wonder poker and diving have become extremely popular in the country. Fantastic scuba diving spots and poker halls are scattered all across the country, more particularly, in the coastal region of northwestern Italy.
Being one of Italy’s smaller regions, Liguria forms a thin strip in the northern part of the country that stretches from France’s border on the west to Tuscany on the east. This section also earned the distinction of being the best diving spot in the Mediterranean. Having been protected since 1998, the Portofino Marine Park boasts an abundance of marine life that is hardly ever seen in the Mediterranean. Going around more than 20 dive sites takes about 15-20 minutes, so it’s fairly easy to explore the hidden wonders of Portofino’s ocean. A lot of multi-level dives, caverns, walls, and swim throughs are seen in Portofino, that’s why it’s a fitting spot for both beginner and advanced level divers. Below, sites such as the world famous “The Christ of the Abyss,” “The Haven,” and the World War II wrecks are dispersed from corner to corner of the town’s seabed. From breathtaking yellow cluster anemones, red corals, and purple gorgonian, to stunning giant moon fishes, moray eels, and scorpion fishes; the flourishing marine life of Portofino is arguably the most bio-diverse and distinctive in the Mediterranean region.
The diversity of things-to-do in the region doesn’t stop underwater, as Liguria also hosts an annual poker tournament that pits dangerous card sharks from all over Europe, and the rest of the world. Once a year, the western Ligurian city of San Remo is the venue of the prestigious European Poker Tour; and the superb felt table action has definitely become one for the books. EPT San Remo always draws a huge contingent of poker players and enthusiasts, and last season was no exception. France’s Ludovic Lacay outwitted a tough field of 797 competitors ranging from PartyPoker’s young up-and-comers to seasoned live tournament veterans. By defeating Canadian pro Jason Lavallee heads up, Lacay took home the title and a fat check worth €744,910 – a nice pay day to spend for a warm Ligurian experience.
As young professionals, it’s important that once in a while we go out of the box to break the tedium of our everyday lives and create something worth reminiscing. These days, it’s highly acceptable that we put our hard earned money on fancy outfits, powerful Apple gadgets, or maybe try our luck in a nice game of Texas Hold’em poker; but we should still put a premium on discovering the hidden beauty of the world, and what lies beneath its vast waters. So whether we plan a cross country poker road trip with our mates or an underwater European adventure with the whole family, taking pleasure in the benefits of travelling is really something worth investing.