Magnificent Italian ship praises city welcome

THE captain of the ‘gem of the Italian navy’ has thanked Portsmouth for its warm welcome of his ship and crew.

Captain Roberto Recchia, commanding officer of magnificent Italian tall ship Amerigo Vespucci, has lavished praise on the city after a brief weekend stay.

The Italian tall ship, Amerigo Vespucci in Portsmouth.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180824-1)

The Italian tall ship, Amerigo Vespucci in Portsmouth.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180824-1)

The sailing vessel – which houses 134 Italian navy officer cadets and a further 270 ship’s company – first arrived at Portsmouth Naval Base on Friday morning for its 11th visit to the city’s historic harbour since 1953.

Speaking of the welcome by the city for his crew, Capt Recchia said: ‘It has been very good. We felt this atmosphere of friendship and welcome. It really was a warm welcome.’

The vessel arrived from Hamburg and has since left the city for its next port of call at La Rochelle in France.

During her stay, she hosted a number of civic events and parties and even opened her doors to visitors on Sunday – although numbers were hampered by the rain.

The main part of the trip was to improve international links with Britain and the Royal Navy.

Commodore Jim Higham, commander of Porstmouth Naval Base,  said: ‘Italy is a great ally of ours and it’s just been wonderful to be able to host them here in Portsmouth, exchange ideas, the opportunity for our teams to meet their teams.

‘And she is just a beautiful ship, she’s just stunning, so it’s fantastic to welcome her here.