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“A piece of Italy is gone, with the terrifying rapidity of marine disasters and now lies buried in the deep of the Ocean. It was indeed a piece of the best of Italy, the most serious, brilliant, strong, honest, tenacious, hard-working, intelligent.” So wrote Dino Buzzati in an article which appeared

on the front page of “Il Corriere della Sera” dated 27th July 1956, in the aftermath of the sinking, off the cost of New York, of the Andrea Doria, flagship of the Italian transatlantic fleet, the pride of a nation and considered by many, not only in Italy, one of the most beautiful liners built after the Second World War.

The tragedy which happened to the Italian ship was the first to be transmitted live all over the world through the recent medium of the television; for this reason the name of the Andrea Doria remained fixed in the collective memory and she is still one of the best remembered Ocean liners in history.

In reality, the Andrea Doria had enjoyed a positive fame since her conception. She was born thanks to a tough diplomatic action by the first Italian post-War Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi; he

convinced the U.S. Government to support a rapid reconstruction of the Italian merchant marine which had been devastated by the conflict and which was indispensable for the renaissance of the whole country.

Between the two World Wars, the Italian liners were one of the most prestigious symbols of the economic and technological progress achieved by the country. From mere means of migration (in about a century 29 million Italians left the mother country), the Italian liners had become in just a few decades a symbol of excellence, recognized worldwide for their impeccable service, for their open-air lido areas and swimming pools, for their style, for their cuisine and also for speed: in 1933 the Rex won the coveted Blue Riband of the Atlantic, a recognition which only a few countries could boast.

The original painting by Giovanni Patrone realised in 1952 to illustrate the early posters and postcards devoted to the ship (Paolo Piccione collection, Genoa).

At the end of the Second World War, the Rex and virtually all the other Italian passenger ships had disappeared, swallowed up by the maelstrom of the hostilities, with the few survivors now requisitioned by the Allies.

The shortage of vessels compelled the Italians to use all their inventiveness to recover and repair several wrecks and to purchase many old vessels available on the market; they needed to cope on the one hand with the new huge wave of migrants and, on the other, with the stringent need to carry

to the motherland the many commodities needed by the nation. This botched fleet was very far from the splendour of the Rex, and so to the Ansaldo shipyard of Genoa, which had launched her twenty years before, was given the task of building a worthy successor on the most prestigious of all the routes.

The Andrea Doria was the result of a true national enterprise, the objective demonstration that Italians would not spare any effort to 

TEHNICAL SHEET                                         


KEEL LAYING: 09/02/1950 

LAUNCH: 16/06/1951

MAIDEN VOYAGE: Genoa - New York  14/01/1953

SHIPYARD: Ansaldo Sestri Ponente 


COMPANY: Societa' Italia

FLAG: ltalian



WIDHT: 90ft

GROSS TONNAGE: 29083 tsl

PROPULSION: 4 geared turbines Parsons


TOP SPEED:  25,3 knots

POWER: 50,000 horsepower





CREW: 563

FATE: Rammed on the 25th July 1956 by the Swedish motorship Stockholm off Nantucket

and sunk the following morning.


PIANI GENERALI                                         



present to the world the image of a progressive country; its best engineers, architects, artists, artisans and workers would create a new floating city full of art, technology and good taste representing a strong message of hope as a good omen for the rebirth of the nation.

According to Gio Ponti, the famous architect who made a substantial contribution to the design of the Andrea Doria, she was to represent “The Legend of Italy”, containing its best contemporary arts, crafts, splendid ceramics, attractive glasses, iridescent enamels, wonderful fabrics... the Andrea Doria, in short, had to recall the image of her country as a World heritage site, with its famous gardens and architectural landmarks, emphasising the role of the country as a cradle of history and art, dispelling the bad memories of the conflict, catering again for the tourists from abroad.




1949 December: contract placed; registered by public act by the Genoese notary Luigi Cassanello on the 28th February 1950.

1950, February 9th: the first plates of the keel are laid on the slipway without ceremony because of the many union strikes of the time.

1951 June 16th: launching ceremony performed by the ship's godmother, Donna Giuseppina

Saragat, wife of the Minister of the Merchant Marine in the De Gasperi government.

1952, November 5th: first outing at sea for the preliminary tests and the calibration of marine instruments.

1952, December 3rd: preliminary sea trials of 54 hours, during which the ship headed towards

Corsica for the shake-down of her machinery and the measurement of vibration and noise.

1952, December 6th: drydocked in the port of Genoa, for the weighing, the inclining test (for the stability control), the cleaning and final painting of the hull.

1952, December 9th: at 7 am the Andrea Doria sailed for her speed and delivery trials; on board there were Federico Barbieri and Giuseppe Rosini (respectively President and CEO of Ansaldo), Carlo Linch (President of the Italian Line) and the surveyors of the Italian, British and American classification societies. The ship exceeded 62,200 HP with an average speed of 26.44 knots over the measured mile.

1952, December 23th: the Andrea Doria sailed for her shake-down cruise from Genoa to

Casablanca, Las Palmas, Funchal, Lisbon, Cadiz, Palma de Mallorca and Cannes before returning to her home port on the following 7th of January.

1953 January 14th: at 11 am the Andrea Doria set sail for her first crossing of the Atlantic bound for New York, saluted by a large crowd, by the whistles of all the ships in the port and the sprays of the tugboats; she would call on her way at Cannes, then at Naples and Gibraltar.

1953 January 30th: at noon the vessel sailed from New York on a 2-week Caribbean cruise.

1953 February 18th: back from her cruise, the Andrea Doria sailed from New York on her first eastbound crossing to Gibraltar, Naples, Cannes and Genoa, where she arrived in the afternoon of the 27th of February.

1953, December 16th: the Andrea Doria makes the first of a few calls at Lisbon while outbound to the United States.

1956 July 17th: sailed from Genoa for what would prove to be her last voyage stopping en-route at

Cannes, Naples and Gibraltar, from where she left at13:45 on the 20th July;

1956 July 25th: at 11:11 pm, local time, in position LAT40°30'N, LONG69°53'W she was rammed off Nantucket by the Swedish liner Stockholm and sank at 10:09 am on the next day.





The newsreels of the time show, with great enthusiasm, the footage of the first sailing from Genoa of the new flagship Andrea Doria on the 23th December 1952 for her first cruise ever, saluted by a large crowd.

About a thousand tickets had been sold for the cruise, including 400 in Tourist Class offered at a reduced price by ENAL (the Italian state institute for the after-work activities) to those who had contributed to the construction of the ship; there were also sixty special reporters of the International press. Among the distinguished guests on board there were also the ship's godmother, Mrs Saragat, the Marquis Andrea Doria and his wife and a number of executives of the shipping industry, including the president of the French Line, M. Jean Marie.


At 3:30 pm the tugs approached the Andrea Doria which, with three long blasts of her siren, warned visitors and friends of the passengers to disembark the brand-new vessel, which was freshly painted, pervaded by the typical smells of a new ship and dressed overall for the occasion.

Christmas on board was a remarkably hot day that had populated the three pools; it seemed incredible that just two days at sea from Genoa, heading towards the south-western area of the Mediterranean, the climate was virtually summer. After the gala dinner, for which the ladies joyfully paraded for the first time in their evening dresses, just before midnight passengers gathered on the open decks to admire the lights of the African and European coasts approaching and almost

touching each other at the Pillars of Hercules. Leaving behind the rock of Gibraltar, on the morning of St. Stephen the Andrea Doria made its first call at Casablanca.

During New Year’s Eve, the younger passengers, eager to experience a little storm after an exceptionally mild Mediterranean, were duly satisfied, with an entire day of sea force 6 and winds up to 65 miles per hour during which the ship coped very well with the heavy seas. At 8:15 am on the 7th January, the Andrea Doria was back in Genoa where, while waiting for her first departure for New York, she was open for visits by the authorities and citizens.

On the 14th January 1953, the Andrea Doria sailed from Genoa for her first Atlantic crossing, to the same festive fanfare of sounds and images which had taken place on the previous 23rd December when she departed for her shake down cruise; fortunately this was also a nice and warm sunny day, with a blue sky and a sea which anticipated the spring time. After a brief call at Cannes, the same afternoon she arrived in Naples, again enthusiastically and warmly welcomed by the town.

The crossing then proceeded without any problems and was accompanied by good weather, a key ingredient to its success.

The shore excursion programme during the first cruise of the Andrea Doria.

On the 23th January, the Andrea Doria made her triumphant first arrival in New York, after covering the 3278 miles from Gibraltar at an average speed of 22.95 knots; it was more than 20 years and the first arrivals of the Rex and the Conte di

Savoia, since a new Italian liner had been celebrated in New York.

On the 30th January 1953, amid a tangle of streamers, the toasts of the guests on the open decks and the alternating music of the ship's band and the one on pier 84, a large crowd waved “arrivederci” to the lucky 559 passengers of what would prove the Andrea Doria’s only Caribbean cruise. Actually, on board there were an extra 10 guests, relatives and friends of passengers who declared that, in the din of the festivities, they could not hear the siren and the loudspeakers inviting visitors to disembark; their cruise proved to be far too short, however, as a tug brought them back ashore before the Andrea Doria left the harbour.

Among the distinguished guests on this unique voyage there were the spouses of the mayor of New York and of the Italian ambassador in the United States, but, above all, many wealthy and middle- aged New Yorkers, often aficionados and repeaters who had been habitués of the pre-War Italian Line cruises.

A brochure in English to promote the first cruise of the Andrea Doria.

After steaming 1420 nautical miles southward in only two days, the vessel visited some of what are

still today's most popular tropical resorts among Americans, calling first at Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, then at San Juan de Puerto Rico and at Fort de France in Martinique; in the early morning of the 6th February, the Andrea Doria entered the port of Willemstad, Curaçao, the Dutch colony. The following ports visited were Cartagena, Colombia, and Cristobal Colon, at the mouth of the Panama Canal, places rich in historical monuments and landmarks of the Spanish colonial age.

A day in Jamaica, with plenty of rivers, waterfalls, lush vegetation and white beaches, allowed the Andrea Doria passengers to spend a few hours of total relaxation before reaching, on the 12th February, for a 48 hours stopover to visit and enjoy the Cuban capital.

Steaming at an average of over 23 knots, the Andrea Doria then made her way back to New York, where she arrived at dawn on the 16th February, two days before her first eastbound crossing back to Italy.

The career of the Italian flagship would unfold over the following years with extreme regularity and

the Andrea Doria became a favourite with the International transatlantic travellers until the tragic evening of the 25th July 1956 when, just a few hours from her arrival in New York, the Italian liner was rammed and sunk by the Swedish ship Stockholm which, owing to an error of her commanding officer, was travelling at full speed at night in the fog in the wrong direction, occupying the lane reserved for westbound ships.


PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN                                                                  


During the years immediately after the Second World War, there was a distinct change in the way ocean liners and sea travel were advertised as a result of many factors, mainly related to the changes brought about by the hostilities, which, in some ways, cut the twentieth century in two. The re-start of migration caused by the shortages of the postwar period, the loss of many of the great and magnificent liners in service in the 'Thirties and of their public of aficionados, brought about a change of style in the art of publicity. In addition, the rapid development of photographic art, especially in colour, led to the gradual extinction of a profession, the illustrators and portraitists of passenger liners; before the conflict virtually all the advertising material published by shipping companies was characterised by impressive illustrations of the ship, not only from outside, but also inside, with evocative and usually exaggerated perspectives of public rooms and cabins as well as idyllic scenes of life on board.



In line with the voracity of "modern times", inexorably devouring budgets and production times of the shipping companies’ publicity offices, colour photography proposed itself as a valid alternative to those artists preparing hand-made drawings and paintings to illustrate the promotional material, such as brochures and folders. Only in the sector of posters, would painters and illustrators still be a protagonist in the 'Fifties.

Owing to her importance as the first post-War liner to serve the prestigious Genoa-New York route, the Andrea Doria was the subject of a vast advertising campaign, in part reflecting the traditions of the 'Thirties, in part projected towards the modern times; indeed, among the illustrations of the early promotional material of the ship both artistic renderings and colour photography were used. The coexistence of these two "illustrative systems" is well depicted by the publicity campaign organised in the United States and titled "These men have built a ship" where, before for the liner was completed and therefore "photographable", the hand-made illustrations depict various craftsmen at work on the outfitting of the ship; weavers, potters, cabinet makers, glass blowers… In the same campaign there is also an aerial stern-view of the Andrea Doria, dressed overall and crossing an enchanted bay flanked by gardens full of flowers recalling a corner of the Riviera. The view point

of this pre-maiden voyage portrait of the vessel is no coincidence; for the first time a transatlantic liner on the New York route was fitted with three large swimming pools, all arranged at the stern, each on a large tiered lido terrace, and this shot emphasised this innovation. Bearing in mind that the Italian nation had only recently been freed from dictatorship, this seems a particularly "democratic" rendering of the vessel, where all three classes seem to enjoy the same treatment. The change of the name of the classes seems to confirm this intent; Second and Third Classes were replaced by Cabin and Tourist Classes.

As soon as the Andrea Doria was completed, the Italian Line office in New York organised with a local photographic agency a full colour service of the ship, producing large-size transparencies of the interiors of the lounges, both with and without models, and of the life on board. As a result, the paintings of the early advertising were replaced by beautiful photographs, manually enhanced and touched up, lavishly focusing on the food, lido life and artworks on board.




The first formal portrait of the Andrea Doria, needed for posters and postcards, was entrusted to Giovanni Patrone, by the 'Fifties an established collaborator of the Italian Line, who had recently also contributed similar acrylic paintings on panel of the Conte Biancamano, Conte Grande, Giulio Cesare and Augustus.

The cover of the first brochure, in a modern and minimalist style, was entrusted to another renowned artist, Enrico Ciuti, while a poster and a 3D colour display of the ship was also the work of Patrone. In both he used a classic but always beautiful theme, very popular in the 'Thirties: the great bow, tall and tapering, challenging the skyscrapers of Manhattan.



ON BOARD                                                                                          


The architectural assignment for furnishing the Andrea Doria was determined by a competition between designers invited by the Italian Line, similarly to what happened with other post-War liners

First Class


Among those invited to submit their projects for the public lounges of the ship there were Gio Ponti with Nino Zoncada, Matteo Longoni, Gustavo Pulitzer Finali, Antonio Cassi Ramelli (associated with Ettore Rossi and Enrico Parenti) and Giulio Minoletti. The final choice of the shipping company was to distribute the First Class public spaces of the Andrea Doria between all those who had participated to the competition.

Among those invited to submit their projects for the public lounges of the ship there were Gio Ponti with Nino Zoncada, Matteo Longoni, Gustavo Pulitzer Finali, Antonio Cassi Ramelli (associated with Ettore Rossi and Enrico Parenti) and Giulio Minoletti. The final choice of the shipping company was to distribute the First Class public spaces of the Andrea Doria between all those who had participated to the competition.

Ponti and Zoncada were awarded the group of lounges on the promenade deck; Pulitzer Finali the boat deck; Antonio Cassi Ramelli (assisted by his colleagues Ettore Rossi and Enrico Parenti) the vestibule, staircases and dining room; Giulio Minoletti the lidos with swimming pool of all three classes. More homogeneous was the design of the Cabin Class, entirely designed by Matteo Longoni, and of the Tourist Class, realised by architect Ratti and by the ANUA studio of Genoa, headed by architect Angelo Crippa.

The most representative rooms on board were the lounges of the two upper classes, located on the promenade deck, designed so that they could be used together when the ship was sailing on a cruise as a one-class vessel.

The cover of a First Class passenger list; the portrait of Admiral Andrea Doria was by Mario Vellani Marchi.

The First Class main lounge, the work of Ponti and Zoncada, was the heart of the interiors: no more sculptures and paintings "hanging from the walls", but the wall itself transformed into a work of art, thanks to the mural painting by Salvatore Fiume, 

The cover of a booklet containing the passenger deck plans; the illustration was by Giovanni Patrone.

"The Legend of Italy", which

covered almost entirely the fore and aft sides of the room. The work was perfectly integrated into the space and it was painted to enhance the perspective and the brightness of the lounge. The artist, a native of Sicily, had worked closely with Ponti in order to achieve a seamless integration between art and architecture.

On the aft bulkhead the painting covered an alcove in the wall, showing splayed perspectives of arches and stairways of the Renaissance times and acting as a backdrop to a large bronze statue by the sculptor Giovanni Paganin, a formal effigy of the admiral after which the ship was named. Adjacent to this space was located the ballroom, dominated by another large mural: "The Feast of Neptune" by Piero Zuffi. The lounge, at the forward end of the ship was surrounded by the Winter Garden with its large ceramic panels by Guido Gambone.

Through the First Class stairwell, placed between the main lounge and the ballroom, it was possible to reach other public lounges located one deck up (boat deck) designed by Pulitzer, the reading room, having as its focal point a large tapestry manufactured by the Manifattura Italiana Tessuti e Affini (MITA) of Genoa Nervi, woven after a cartoon by Michael Rachlis. The neighbouring spaces (writing room, card room and veranda Belvedere) had a similar style and the division between them was made of large glass doors which at night could be all opened to use the whole area as a night club.

The difference between the public lounges of First and Second Class was almost imperceptible, as well as their dimensions. On the aft part of the promenade deck, after the similar spaces devoted to the First Class, were fitted the public rooms of Cabin 

Class, all designed by Longoni; the main lounge had walls lined in pickled cherry with vertical insets in polished maple and elements in gold-zed aluminium. The ballroom, on the other hand, had walls made of square parchment panels and a dance floor in walnut parquet; the main artwork was a large mural painting by Felicita Frai.

The walls of the card room were characterised by vertical panels in vinyl leather (a new material at the time), the ceramic legs of the tables were the work of Fausto Melotti while the walls featured a large panel in embossed copper by Ettore Calvelli and Attilio Nani; a second similar artwork was placed in the adjoining library, on the sliding door that covered the bookshelves.

The Andrea Doria featured four luxury suites, each entrusted to a different architect: Carlo Pouchain, Giulio Minoletti, Gio Ponti and Nino Zoncada. That by Ponti was certainly the most extravagant; his "Zodiac Suite", decorated by Piero Fornasetti, was well received by the American public. There was no element in the room (including telephone and toilet lid) that was not covered by the signs of the zodiac.

The dining rooms, of all three classes, were placed low down in the ship, on the vestibule deck. Other fine examples of stylistic continuity and applied art to be found on board the Andrea Doria were the three swimming pools with their adjoining verandahs, bars and lidos. In order to give a homogeneous and coordinated appearance to the aft area of the ship, the pool areas of all three classes were entrusted entirely to the well-known Milanese architect Minoletti, who enlisted the famous painter Lucio Fontana to design the mosaics covering the pool tanks and beach areas.

Three examples of the music programme for the First and Cabin Class by the ship's orchestra conducted by Ettore Bandel.

In addition to the verandah lido, the 700 Tourist Class guests had at their disposal another five public rooms, all located in the aft area of the vessel: the dining room, the card room, the reading

and writing room, the Main Lounge and the ballroom. The importance assumed by the cheapest class in the transatlantic tourist traffic since the 'Thirties led on the Andrea Doria to simple, but fully-fledged and comfortable facilities; indeed many cabins had such a high standard that they were interchangeable and could be sold as Cabin Class in case of need.

Other Classes


FOOD EXPERIENCE ON BOARD                                                                                          

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On the first anniversary of the Andrea Doria's entry into service, the Italian Line and the shipbuilders Ansaldo published a large monograph dedicated to the great liner. In 320 pages it describes every aspect of the ship with an abundance of detail. More than half the pages are concerned with the passenger quarters and the services on board which made her such an outstanding example of the latest trends in the hospitality industry.

The Andrea Doria was, in truth, a work of perfection, a wonderful combination of great ocean liner and luxurious grand hotel. The service on board was the best which one could possibly expect at that time, thanks to almost perfect organisation, among the best in the international world of hospitality, overseen by the hotel director. Under him there was a long list of heads of department, butlers, head waiters, stewards, cabin stewards, chefs and bar staff, all trained to satisfy the different demands of the diverse passengers in all classes of accommodation.

The loading of fresh vegetables on the Andrea Doria during one of her calls; the passenger ship was an economic resource for the many suppliers and chandlers required to refill her food provisions journey after journey.

It was perhaps during her time in port that one could best gain an impression of the sheer scope and efficiency of the organisation involved. For instance, a small convoy of lorries would welcome her arrival. They would be laden with about 90 tons of provisions which would be taken on board before each voyage.


VIPS ON BOARD                                                                                                          


The first two round crossings of the Andrea Doria were not significant in determining the success of the ship with the most prominent transatlantic travellers; as had happened previously, the celebrities of the time did not patronise the early crossings, when the ship still needed to “shake down” and to be set up, and the crew still had to fully familiarise themselves with the vessel; VIPs were often looking for tranquillity and privacy while on board and abhorred the confusion generated by crowds which were typical of maiden voyages. Fortunately, as the shipowners eagerly hoped, from the sixth crossing of the Andrea Doria onward famous names began to appear in the list of the First Class passengers, a key factor to intrigue the press and obtain good (and free) advertising which would attract the general public and potential travellers.

In April 1953 Anna Magnani embarked at Naples, John Ford at Cannes and Clare Boothe Luce (the new US ambassador to Rome) with her husband Henry Luce (the powerful publisher of "Life", "Fortune" and "Time") in New York. For the Italian company this was a welcome revival of the glamorous days of their pre-War splendour, marked by legendary liners such as Rex or the Conte di Savoia

Anna Magnagni took the Andrea Doria again in April 1954 when she was bound for New York accompanied by her great friend Tennessee Williams to shoot "The Rose Tattoo", the film that confirmed the international reputation of the Italian star bringing her the Oscar as best actress. During the same eastbound crossing in April 1954, during which the controversial US ambassador was travelling to Italy, Geraldine Brooks was also on board; she was particularly known to the Italian public for having starred in “Challenge to Lassie” with Vittorio Gasman. Amongst the stars from Hollywood who chose the Italian flagship there were Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Richard Widmark, Ramon Novarro, Tyrone Power with his wife Linda Christian, Kim Novak and Joan Crawford; other famous passengers of the ship included Orson Welles and his wife Paola Mori. 

A certificate signed by Captain Calamai and recording the participation in the maiden cruise of the Andrea Doria; it was given to the passengers at the end of the voyage.

Other well-known characters in both Europe and the United States who should be mentioned are the famous soprano Renata Tebaldi; the conductors Victor de Sabata, Guido Cantelli, Nicolai Sokoloff, Leopold Stokowski; writers such as John Steinbeck and Archibald Cronin; heads or former heads of state, for instance Nicholas De Kallay, Miklos Horthy, the Crown Prince of Afghanistan and the Turkish President Celal Bayar; and diplomats such as Robert Guggenheim.

General George C. Marshall cannot be omitted amongst the list of the personalities who chose the Andrea Doria; thanks to the famous plan that bore his name providing American aid to war-torn Europe, the beautiful ocean liner on which he was now travelling had had her birth and the famous General chose her to travel to Europe for what would prove to be his last public engagement: he was going to Oslo to receive the Nobel Prize for peace.



ITALIAN LINERS                                                                

ITALIAN LINES                                                                     

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