Italian Seaport: American History

1 Jul

One day, we decided to take a trip to the sea. After all, it’s what Italians do in the summer whenever they can. We headed west to a seaport town, destination Porto Santo Stefano, with an overnight bag in the trunk. Every town has a story, as did this one.

As we walked along the sea wall, we saw a number of large sailing vessels. It turns out there was an international regatta that weekend, and the yachts were arriving that day. I saw one with an American flag and took this picture.


During lunch, we began talking to a couple at the next table and learned that they owned one of the yachts. Although they live in Switzerland, they dock their boat in Barcelona and had sailed from Barcelona themselves. Each boat, we learned, was built before 1950 and all were over 50 feet long.



For the regatta, each yacht requires a fairly large crew for racing and the crew members were beginning to fill the town.



Porto Santo Stefano is what I would call a salty seaport, more rugged than lovely. We found a small B&B for the night, and although the ceiling in our room was quite low, we were on the top floor and had the roof top deck to ourselves, giving me a great vantage point for evening photos.





IMG_0016_2And now for the rest of the story…

The name of the yacht with the American flag is Manitou, registered in Newport, RI. It turns out that this yawl once belonged to none other than…

John F. Kennedy Material released by the National Archives in Washington


(The photos and following are taken from the article cited below, well worth a click.)

Manitou was launched in 1937 and promptly won the 1938 Chicago Mac Race in the cruising division (on corrected time), beating all previous records. After these successes, she was donated to the US Coast Guard in 1955 to be used as a training vessel. It was while she was at Annapolis that Manitou was first spotted by a young Senator Kennedy. After elected, and being a keen sailor, President Kennedy sent naval aide Captain Tazewell Shepard Jr. to search out a suitable sailing yacht that could accommodate the equipment needed for him to keep in touch with the White House, and even the Kremlin.

The yacht is now owned by a syndicate of keen Med racers. ( Photo below by Nigel Pert.)


The people we met told us that supposedly on the boat, there is a picture of Marilyn Monroe in a bath tub, but they had not seen it. Then, when I did a little research on the yacht history, the article cited below includes this info:

During his (JFK) time he not only used her as a presidential yacht, but also invited a bevy of stars and starlets aboard as guests, due to his fascination with Hollywood. The bathtub in the aft cabin, sunken under the cabin sole, is said to have been host to, among others, Marilyn Monroe.

So there you have it. A bit of American history in a colorful Italian seaport. Very colorful in all respects!



8 Responses to “Italian Seaport: American History”

  1. Mike Gingerella July 1, 2013 at 8:34 AM #

    Both the Manitou and dad were launched in 1937, and both are now classics! Great photos. I have a love of sailboats and am very envious of you beng able to see that many great vessals together in one place. As far as the B&B goes, if YOU thought the ceilings were a bit low, that speaks volumes! lol Enjoy the remainder of your stay. I look forward to hearing much more about your trip when I see you later this Summer.


    • blogginginitaly July 2, 2013 at 9:24 AM #

      Yes, they are, as well as all those cars. Never knew you liked sailboats so much…we’ll go see some this summer at the harbors.


  2. annagrassini July 1, 2013 at 8:42 AM #

    Ah, you brought back memories. My brother, my cousins, my uncle, and my second-cousin (Massimo Bartolozzi, the Florence antique dealer) all were part of one of those crews and even won some of those races in Tuscany and even further afield!!! Of course, we should not forget that Pisa was one of the original Repubbliche Marinare, duking it out for supremacy with Genova, Venezia and Amalfi! So the sailing tradition goes back a while!


    • blogginginitaly July 2, 2013 at 9:25 AM #

      Thanks for the history lesson. We were just talking about you and wondering when you were returning here…the weather has finally turned sunny and warm.


  3. Deborah Capraro July 1, 2013 at 2:48 PM #

    Cousin Judy, I am a new arrival to your blog. I love it. Can’t wait to have dinner with you, Len, Alexis & Paul. Wish I was there!!

    Cousin Deb

    Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2013 12:58:17 +0000 To:


  4. Florence C. Connelly July 1, 2013 at 6:29 PM #

    This is fabulous Judy ! I have missed you very much !! Can’t wait to see you 😉 love, Me xo

    Florence C. Connelly


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