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A book celebrates Baglietto’s 160 years of excellence in stylish shipbuilding

by Stefano Salis

The seagull is still flying. Probably the most recognizable symbol and brand of the Italian boat-building sector (together with Riva motorboats), Baglietto is celebrating its 160th anniversary with a book (in Italian and English) about the history of a symbol of Italian excellence, a long time object of pride and envy.

Baglietto’s birthday is also an opportunity for looking back on 160 years of Italian history, going through wars, the economic boom, crisis and triumphs– all the while, the brand manufactured boats characterized by technological innovation, stylishness and high-quality design. This is a story of shipowners, but also of popes, heads of state, musicians, writers (Gabriele D’Annunzio used to own a Baglietto boat called Alcyone), entrepreneurs, or enthusiasts that chose the brand, still a paragon of Italian style, art and beauty.

In the 1920s, the Italian brand gained momentum in Europe – back then the only market for yachts and leisure boats. That was chiefly due to the innovative technology developed in Baglietto’s shipyards, where methods and solutions were adopted that would later be embraced worldwide. In that period , the shipowners’ requests started to evolve and the shipyard churned out extremely elegant motorboats. They were equipped with a compact superstructure that complemented the overall design while offering more protection. It was the germ of the concept of “cabin.” The 11-meter Lyscar boat (1926), is a masterpiece of this type of vessel.

The style of Baglietto boats built in the 1930s was influenced by contemporary aesthetic trends , as their lines became more fluid. The car culture had a huge impact on the design of these motorboats and their pure and absolutely elegant lines echo those of the vehicles being assembled in the big car factories.

Luxurious and refined, these vessels were geared towards the Italian royals, cabinet members and lucky shipowners. The design of bigger boats was not as masterful, even if their appearance was much more appealing than that of the competitors, especially the British.

Today the brand belongs in its entirety to Gruppo Gavio, which did not cave in to the lure of investors willing to inject money , but with short-term objectives.

“World economy is slowly recovering and, while I consider private equities’ investments crucial, mine is a long-run financial and industrial enterprise, as I operate also in other sectors,” said Beniamino Gavio. “In Italy, we have great yacht-building skills, but this sector also requires an efficient, industrial mindset, like in the Netherlands or in Germany.”

One of Beniamino Gavio’s main goals was getting the shipyard in La Spezia to work again. The first ship-launch under the new management was the 44-meter Monokini, in May 2013. Using a pre-existing hull and interiors by Alberto Mancini, the yacht is the third of the 44-meter Fast Line series designed by Francesco Pazkowski, after Apache II and Tatiana Per Sempre.