Hailing from southern Italy, Antonio spent his childhood splashing in the Lao River that gushes through the Pollino — Italy’s largest national park — and exploring its wild canyons, shaping his love for rivers and rafting. Fast forward to today, and the rafting maestro has travelled all over the world, leading expeditions along some of the greatest rivers in Italy, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, USA, Morocco, Nepal and India, and training for many years to become a yoga instructor. In 2016, he returned to his hometown and the Lao River, reclaiming a former landfill area and developing it as the HQ for River Tribe, curating thrilling multi-day adventures in the Pollino.
Tell us about your first adventure.
I went swimming in the Lao River from a very young age — we didn’t wear life jackets or helmets — and I’d raft through its canyon. Spending so much time on the river gave me great respect for water and nature. My first river adventures overseas, though, took me to Argentina and the Mendoza River. I went there with very little knowledge, no Spanish and no money in my early 20s. Going from the Lao to rivers in South America with a huge volume of water was scary. But fear is all part of the thrill.
Where did your adventurous streak come from?
From the values that my parents passed on to me: courage, freedom, respect and love are fundamental pillars in my life. My parents have always encouraged me to live without fear, which has helped me a lot in the adventure field as I don't waste energy worrying. I've always loved being outside and I grew up up with a constant, deep connection to nature, feeding my great love of adventure. Every trip — and everyone I meet along the way — adds to my adventurous streak even more.
Which trips have had the biggest impact?
I could write a book on this question. That first trip to Argentina probably had one of the biggest impacts on me. I was 21 and the call of the river and adventure was strong. I had very little money, but I won a scooter and a phone at a festival in my hometown. I sold the scooter a