Angra Too yacht in motion

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Credit: Ocean Independence

On board 38m Angra Too with shipping magnate Paolo d’Amico

31 August 2023 • Written by Rachel Ingram

He’s spent more than 50 years in the commercial maritime world, but this shipping magnate has never tired of the sea. He tells Rachel Ingram why he spends every spring and summer day he can on board his 38-metre Angra Too.

“My father put me on a tanker when I was seven,” says Paolo d'Amico, owner of the 38-metre Castagnola Angra Too, and third-generation ship owner. “I was on board for a month. We had an old master running the ship who was extremely worried about where I was going, because having a seven-year-old kid running around the ship is not exactly the safest thing to do, but it was fun because I was living with the crew. I learned about what a ship is, what a commercial ship is, and what life on board is like. It was a great experience.”

The Rome-based businessman has spent his professional life building his way up to executive chairman of his father’s shipping company, d'Amico International Shipping, where he’s worked since 1971. As one of the most powerful executives in Italian shipping, he’s also vice-chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERANKO) and a member of the council of the Italian Shipowners’ Association. So far, so commercial.

The d’Amicos’ 38m Angra Too is the largest wooden yacht Castagnola has built
Credit: Ocean Independence

Despite growing up in the landlocked capital of Rome, the Italian developed a passion for yachting thanks to his father, who was passionate about it. “My father was a yachtsman in the 1950s,” he says. “Few people had vacations on yachts in those days, but I grew up going on holidays every summer with my father. I basically spent my life on a yacht – at least during vacation.”

During d'Amico’s childhood, his father owned three yachts, including a Baglietto that Paolo inherited when he passed away. “It was 20 metres, which at the time was a big thing,” he says. “I ran it for a few years and then sold it and started buying my own open boats. Later on, I moved to bigger yachts; my first was a 32-metre – and then my current yacht, which is 40 metres. I built them both from scratch.”

Rome in the 1950s, a time when Paolo began spending his holidays on yachts
Credit: Getty Images

His favourite childhood memories revolve around family sailing holidays spent in the Mediterranean. Greece holds a particularly special place in his heart. “My father used to sail a lot in Greece; it was a fantastic way of spending my teenage years,” he says. “In those days, it was very basic because yachting was not an industry as it is today. The ports were mainly for fishermen and fishing vessels. One thing I remember well was that in those days, you didn’t have a desalination plant, so you had to not only refuel the boat but also to resupply it with freshwater, which was not easy on the islands. So we did a lot of planning. It was always an adventure.

“We were one of the few boats going around and I remember we had very nice reactions because the boat was flying the Italian flag, which was something totally new for the fishermen in the 1960s,” he says.

When d’Amico built his own yachts, he started small with an open sailing boat. “It was a lot of work because I had only one crewman. I had to do all the manoeuvring myself, which is fine once, but when you have to do it for a month, it becomes a bit tiring,” he says.

Credit: Ocean Independence

When he decided to upgrade to a larger, less demanding vessel, he spoke to his cousin, another keen yachtsman. “He was building a 32-metre in a shipyard up in Liguria close to Genoa. So, I built the sister vessel,” he says.

From there, d'Amico moved up in size again to Angra Too which, at 38 metres, was “like the first one, but bigger”.

Angra Too was custom-built at Italian shipyard Costruzioni Navali Tigullio – Castagnola and delivered in 2015. She’s been carefully preserved since, with a fresh refit in 2021. The 38-metre yacht accommodates up to 10 guests in five cabins, plus six crew, and is currently available for charter for €110,000 (£97,400) per week. She’s also for sale with Ocean Independence at an asking price of €8 million. D'Amico jokes that if someone wants to buy her, they must commit to taking her back to Greece every year. “It’s where you get the maximum out of her.”

Credit: Ocean Independence

Unlike many wooden-hulled boats, she’s been outfitted with jets rather than propellers, at the request of her strong-willed owner. “A lot of people told me you can’t put jets on a wooden hull, but I said, ‘Why not?’” d'Amico says. “We wanted jets because, firstly, you gain a lot of space internally when the engines are hidden back in the aft. Secondly, the draught is lower than a metre. This means that when I go to Greece, I can moor on an island one metre from shore because I essentially have no draught restriction.”

“This is one of the things that I’m very proud of,” he adds. “You are sitting on a 40-metre boat but using it like a speedboat. This makes everybody happy because usually these boats stop outside in the middle of the sea, and you have to swim a lot to get to shore.”

Paolo and Noemia at their Villa Tirrena, set among 31 hectares of Umbrian vineyard
Credit: Collection D'Amico

The sophisticated, spacious interior was designed by d’Amico’s wife, Noemia. “She did a fantastic job,” he says. “It’s very simple. It’s all wood. Even the floor is wood – we have no carpets. We used a beautiful Brazilian wood that gives you a very nice feeling underfoot when you’re barefoot.”

It’s a theme that’s reflected in the office, which features wooden panelling and framed photographs of, you guessed it, yachts.

Outside of boats, the Italian is passionate about wine. He owns a countryside house and vineyard in Italy where they make their own vintage. “You don’t make money out of it; you become more poor than rich, but it is fun anyway.” Just like yachting, I joke, to which he laughs deeply with a knowing nod. “Exactly,” he says. “I have to be careful to not to run the two things together.”

The Bay of Naples is Angra Too’s July base, as d’Amico commutes to Rome for work
Credit: Getty Images

Each year, d’Amico and Noemia follow a well-trodden but beloved route through the Mediterranean, getting the most use of the yacht during spring and summer after she’s spent winter in a hangar. “I go on the water in the middle of April. From there to the middle of July, I stay in the Bay of Naples because it’s easy for me to get there from Rome during the weekends. In the second half of July, she starts going south, and we do one or two weekends in Sicily. We then take the whole month of August in Greece,” he says.

When he talks about the country, his eyes light up and a smile stretches across his face. “Greece is always a new experience because of the colours and the light, especially if you go to the Cyclades where you have light that is unique in the world. It’s beautiful and the sea is absolutely gorgeous. It’s unlike anywhere else,” he says. “For me, the Caribbean and the Maldives doesn’t exist. For me, Greece is the top.”

Milos, a volcanic island awash with colour, has a rich history, excellent seafood restaurants and some of the best beaches of all the islands
Credit: Aleh Varanishcha via Getty Images

He also praises the country with its many islands and (if you pick the right time of year) lack of tourists; he admits overcrowding has driven him away from one of his former favourite sailing destinations, Sardinia. “I cannot go to Sardinia anymore because it’s too crowded; it’s impossible,” he says with a sigh.

The feeling of space and freedom is important to d’Amico and is one of the key forces behind his passion for sailing. “What drives me a lot is that sense of freedom, because if you sail to a place and get fed up, you can just move on. There is no limit on where you are going and what you are doing. It’s fantastic,” he says.

Hydra, one of Paolo d’Amico’s favourite islands in his top sailing destinations
Credit: Konstantinos via Getty Images

“Freedom is very much in me, even on the business side, too. Ships are an element of freedom – they go everywhere. I’m very lucky.  I could never have enough of the sea.”

Next on d’Amico’s travel list is Macedonia and Montenegro, both of which he’s hoping to visit this year. “I think they have not been spoiled yet which, for me, is very important.” He also plans to stop in Venice on the way home to Rome as it’s “a good way of finishing the holidays”.

Spetses, a beautiful island with rich vegetation and many pine trees, it has wonderful sandy beaches, lovely secluded bays and scenic authentic villages
Credit: Constantinos Iliopoulos via Getty Images

And then there’s the annual celebration of Noemia’s birthday, which takes place on board on 20 August every year. “We put all the  flags on and do a big party and everyone joins in, even the crew. It’s a moment of great happiness,” he says.

Not one to rest on his laurels, d’Amico is already looking into his next yacht project. “I’m not building just yet, but I’m looking at some projects. This time we are going with something slow – likely a displacement boat,” he says. “In a perfect world, I would sail a boat with the same dimension as Angra Too, and the interior would be exactly the same because you should never leave a winning game.”

In fact, d’Amico admits he’d be very happy to replicate Angra Too, only as a displacement yacht. “It is exactly the type of yacht I wanted. I would rebuild the same thing again,” he says. “My only wish is to use it far more than I am today.” Perhaps he’ll even get to spend as much time on board as he did as a seven-year-old, falling in love with the ocean for the first time.

First published in the June 2023 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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