Historic tall ship to bring touch of Italy to foreign shores

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) - The Amerigo Vespucci, which Italians call the world's most beautiful ship, is taking a taste of its homeland on a round-the-world tour, with temporary expositions at several stops showcasing Italian products and heritage, authorities said.

Tall ship Vespucci, named after the explorer who gave his name to America, is a navy boat that entered service in 1931. Some 2,700 square metres (29,000 square feet) of sails are tied to its three masts, and it has a crew of over 260 sailors, supplemented by trainees.

It set off from Genoa in northern Italy last July for its first world tour in 20 years, which will take it to over 30 ports in five continents to help provide training for those onboard.

The national expos, dubbed Italy villages, will be established in eight ports and the first is to be set up in Los Angeles next week, the defence ministry said on Monday.

"We managed to link the history of the Vespucci to Italy, to turn an ancient thing into something that can be a driving force for the present," Minister Guido Crosetto told a news conference.

Other events will be staged in cities including Tokyo, Singapore, Mumbai and Darwin, in Australia.

Pavilions will overlook the main square of the Italy villages, where visitors will be able to watch cooking shows, conferences and exhibitions, while also getting onboard the Vespucci.

The Los Angeles expo will also feature a show by the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatics team of the Italian air force, the ministry said.

The Vespucci has completed about half of the tour stops and is expected to return to Italian waters in March 2025. In April, it passed through Cape Horn, the closest land mass to Antarctica at the tip of South America, for the first time in its history.

Ship commander Giuseppe Lai, who was connected via a video link from the vessel currently sailing off Mexico, said the Vespucci was receiving particular attention from people of Italian origins living around the world.

"We have what it takes to represent Italy," he said.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Mark Potter)