Boating in a Portrait |Giuseppe Di Capua: “As a child, I was always on the beach and I saw the shipyards building skiffs. Skiffs from Lavagna were famous throughout Liguria.”
Giuseppe Di Capua began his career in boat construction working as an errand boy in Lavagna, until he became a master craftsman, caretaker of the knowledge and traditions of the trade
Giuseppe Di Capua was born in 1939 in Lavagna. He is an important master craftsman. He began his career in boat construction working as an errand boy. In 1958, in Genoa, he passed his exam to become a master craftsman and completed his diploma for the construction of wooden boats up to 180 tonnes.
He began by building fishing skiffs, he registered as a tradesman in the Chamber of Commerce in 1963. Clients came from all over Liguria. In 1983 he opened the Cantiere nautico Di Capua Giuseppe, in which he maintained some well known vessels like the “Lady Metra”, the 22 metre Rose la Vie regatta boat, and the “Argolide”, a 33 metre boat.
In 2012 the shipyard was sold to Cantieri Castagnola di Lavagna. Di Capua is one of the people in Liguria who acts as a caretaker for the knowledge and traditions of master craftsmen.
Di Capua, from errand boy to master craftsman. How did you fall in love with this job?
I was a boy, practically born on the beach, we were always in the water. In those days they told me: we have to take this boy away from the beach and send him off to learn the trade. At the age of 14 they sent me off to learn the craft for free.
Thank God that the artisans at the time were teaching for free. In the evenings I went to design school, and this was also important. This is a trade you have to learn from a young age.
How did you discover boating and the sea?
.I was born in Via Devoti in Lavagna. There were a number of shipyards building skiffs. As a child, I was always on the beach and I saw the shipyards building skiffs. Skiffs from Lavagna were famous throughout Liguria. I was born into the sea.
What is the first thing that needs to be kept in mind when building a boat?
You start with the keel and the stems, to the bow and to the stern. Then you make the frame. Fishermen had certain needs. You always start with a wooden model, made from a one centimetre board, then you develop the design.
What has changed in all these years of business about how one goes out to sea?
A lot has changed. First and foremost, with fibreglass, the boats are different. Now boats are no longer pulled up onto shore, they remain in the marina. Even skiffs have become faster. Also some of those boats that were once made in wood are now made lighter using metal.
I used to go out to Monterosso to fix boats. I went under the bridge, where the fishermen came in, and I fixed the boats, under the church portico or under the bridge. It was a beautiful time, also because I was young.
You have half a day off and decide to go out to sea. What boat would you use and where would you go?
I now have a 12 metre boat, I have a resin motorboat with two engines, with a cabin. I go out with that. I used to have skiffs. I had an 8 metre one with a lateen sail. I don’t go out very much now, it is a big boat, and it is hard to navigate on my own.
Photos by Claudio Colombo
BOATING IN A PORTRAIT A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.
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