Story: A Stand Up Guy

Stand Up Paddling on the Lake Maggiore

Andrea Pirro's job is the stuff of other people's holiday dreams. The beach is his office. The turquoise waters of Lake Maggiore make up his commute. He guides nature lovers through the wild...

Good living on the Lake Maggiore. Andrea Pirro spends the day on the SUP in the wild Ascona Delta, at night prepares cocktails and bbq, when people dance on the beach.


Andrea Pirro, SUP trainer

Andrea Pirro, SUP trainer
I'm fascinated by the Ascona Delta. This borderland between river and lake is pristine, even wild. You're in the middle of nature. The water is still and clear as glass.

Waves lap the shore, while tall trees sway above sunbathers and reggae plays in the background. But then in the distance, a novel sight appears: five stand up paddlers heading toward Ascona Bay. Some of them are unsteady on their boards; they're still beginners. 

We're on the shores of Lake Maggiore, where Pirro created the Wilson SUP (Stand Up Paddling) Center. Growing up not far from here, on the Melezza river, he's always had the outdoors in his blood. During winters he worked as a snowboarding instructor in the Engadine Valley. When it got warm again he'd head to surfing hot spots abroad. 

But the next turning point in his life came at home, when there were no waves to speak of. It was a warm night in the summer of 2011. Andrea was relaxing with some friends on the beach, drinking beer, and chatting about life and surfing. Lake Maggiore lay mirror-smooth that night, without a wave to be seen: No chance for surfing.


Then a friend mentioned a new sport called stand up paddling that he'd tried out abroad. As the name suggests, you stand up on a surfboard and paddle, no waves needed.

Andrea Pirro was taken by the idea. He was so excited that he signed up for instructor training and he got five boards. Today the Wilson SUP Center boasts over 50 boards.

People got it right away, locals as well as tourists.

SUP is a sport that anyone can do, from kids to senior citizens.

It's also a sport with flexibility: you can do it by yourself or with your family, for an hour or a whole afternoon.

People often seem a bit stressed when they come to us. But once they smell the breeze from the lake and feel it on their skin, you can see them start to relax. This is a place to go into vacation mode!
Ascona Delta, the borderland between river and lake.
Pro Tip
Interested in a SUP outing with Andrea Pirro? You will find all information here:
Stand up paddlers can get on their boards to Isole di Brissago, a beautiful area with its own botanical garden.
Even when the weather outside is dreary, it's always delightfully warm in Termali Salini & Spa, in the largest salt baths of Ticino, in nearby Locarno.

Meanwhile SUP is well established on Lake Maggiore. School classes come here for sports practice as well as companies for team building.

Pirro often takes beginners on a tour to the nearby Maggia estuary.

“I'm fascinated by the Ascona delta,” he says. “This borderland between river and lake is pristine, even wild.”

The water is still and clear as glass. Fish dart below the board while ducks and herons can be glimpsed among the reeds. Meanwhile, hikers find their way among the many sandbanks.

"The breeze wafts the scent of the outdoor grill; it's the smell of holiday and relaxation."


At night Andrea starts up the grill. Sometimes a guest will get out a guitar and sing an old Cuban song. People get out of their chairs to dance or just sway to the music with a glass in their hand.

When the last of the guests have gone, Pirro sits down and he gazes out at the lake. What is it that he likes so much about being here? “This place makes you happy.”