Facts and history about the Italian shipbuilding industry from the archives of Fondazione Ansaldo

A voyage in discovering the treasures of the Italian shipbuilding industry from the archives of Fondazione Ansaldo

In Villa Cattaneo dell’Olmo in Genova Campi, Fondazione Ansaldo has, for decades, been collecting documents, publications, artefacts and many other testaments on the technological and organisational evolution of Genoese businesses and their culture and relationships with society.

Fondazione Ansaldo was founded in 1980 as an internal archive for Ansaldo and, after a number of changes, in 2000 it became a Foundation as well as an “economics archive” collecting, preserving and protecting the archives created by companies and industries in different sectors, including mechanics, electromechanics, steel and shipbuilding, which over time have developed in the Ligurian area, and in particular in Genova.

Founded by Finmeccanica (now Leonardo), by the City of Genova, the Province of Genova (now Metropolitan City) and Regione Liguria, the Fondazione is a non profit organisation placed between culture and business, collecting and protecting precious heritage for the study of history, the transformation of the system and industrial policies, as well as the markets.

Often the omission in company archives – explains Claudia Cerioli, the historical archives and library manager for Fondazione Ansaldo – are filled by pieces we receive from private citizens. These are often loans for use where the property belongs to the benefactor”.


Fondazione Ansaldo has over 100 archives for over 60 thousand archival units and papers – notes Claudia Cerioli – over 800 thousand images in different formats (negatives, glass slides, film, loose prints, albums in black and white and colour…) and more than 300 thousand films. The archives cover a period of time from the first half of the 19th century with the Nossardi archive for sailing, through to the 2000s with the most recent.”

Villa Cattaneo dell”Olmo contains the archives of large businesses including Ansaldo, Costa, Ilva/Italsider, the archives of sole traders like Francesco Manzitti, the chairman for Consorzio Autonomo del Porto di Genova and those tied to business in general like the family archives of Giovanni Ansaldo, founder of Ansaldo, and of his heirs including Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo, master mariner.


After having briefly described the historical and cultural heritage held by Fondazione Ansaldo and the beginnings of the Genoese shipbuilding industry, we shall begin our voyage, discovering together the treasures about the Italian shipbuilding industry kept by the foundation.

In this new feature, created through the contribution of Amer Yachts, we will share the adventurous exploits of master mariner, Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo and his voyages across the seas discovering the East and the Americas. Thanks to logs, manuscripts, drawings, photographs and much more, we will follow the evolution of the sailing techniques and methods, and will discover what it was like to live on board the large ships that travelled the seas of the entire world.

We will look at trading routes, the evolution of vessels and engines, and will share facts and untold tales on the famous transatlantic ships Rex and Andrea Doria. This and much more is collected in the documents held in this very important archive, created to protect, preserve and promote the historical and cultural heritage of Ligurian, and Italian, industry.


  • Giovanni Battista Ansaldo Archive
  • Ansaldo Archive
  • Perrone Archive
  • Costa Archive
  • Giovanni Zoncada Archive
  • Historical Newspapers
  • De Giovanni Fund, manager Italia di Navigazione


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