This Italian City Makes the World’s Most Expensive Boats

Viareggio is at the heart of the superyacht industry.

July 24, 2017 12:42 pm

Italy’s Viareggio may look like a holiday resort, but it is where some of the world’s biggest and most exclusive ships are made. Their speciality? The superyacht, a giant vessel that runs about the length of an average swimming pool — though the biggest can be four or five times that size.

Only 370 superyachts — made of metal and fiberglass — were sold around the globe last year, but the combined sales were worth about $3.96 billion. The most expensive yacht sold for about $180 million, according to Boat International.

About a fifth of these vessels are made in Viareggio. Viareggio’s mayor calls the city the “cradle of shipbuilding,” according to BBCViareggio started to build large, wooden ships to transport marble from the region’s famous quarries almost 200 years ago. The first dock was built in 1819, and laid the foundations for the city to become an international shipping industry.

Members of the Benetti family at their shipyard in Viareggio, Tuscany. (Vittoriano Rastelli/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

Vincenzo Poerio, the chief executive of shipbuilding firm Benetti, which is headquartered in Viareggio, credits some of the Italian region’s success to their artistic roots, writes BBC. He also said that the transactions are much more personal than businesslike. Oftentimes, the boats are made from scratch, so the client is building a product. Poerio says that it is not always easy to manage those requests and that the most important attribute to have in the industry is good people skills.

Some companies, including Benetti and Perini Navi, are starting to build smaller yachts that will be ready on-demand.

Viareggio is well-equipped to cope with the changes in the superyacht industry because the city is so specialized. Even when the world economy fluctuates, the extreme wealth of the clientele often means they are more cushioned from the impact of world events.

However, the industry is facing competition from rivals in Europe and China. But Poerio, from Benetti, isn’t worried, because the brand means something. He believes that Viareggio companies offer better customer relations and a certain level of quality.

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