Cavour's journey, the one who "to no one second"

(To Marina Militare)

Italy, having emerged from the first victorious world war, was powerless to witness the sabotage of what had been the legitimate ambitions promised by the allies in case of victory. Victory that had involved an enormous economic effort and, above all, the sacrifice of entire young generations who for their country sacrificed themselves to the extreme sacrifice.

In this context of disappointment and social unrest, it was necessary to restore confidence to an entire people. A new nationalistic feeling that led to that redemption that was claimed in several parts.

Also, it was essential to resume relations, of cordial friendship and commercial, already existing with friendly countries and to create new ones, taking care, in those countries, to give a real image of the value of Italy and of the countrymen who in those countries, together with their families, came and worked and at the same time revived in these love for the distant homeland.

Therefore, it was decided to use what, yesterday as today, is the instrument that most symbolizes the prestige and cultural development of a country: the warship. At 8 am, on 23 July 1919, the direct ship from La Spezia Count of Cavour sails to America, under the command of Under Admiral commander Ugo Conz.

The purpose of the mission is to carry out propaganda in order to strengthen existing friendships, cultivate new ones and increase the prestige of the Italian nation.

The mission left La Spezia, as this city, unlike Taranto, offered the possibility of supplying the ship with new industrial and scientific material as well as new uniforms and food supplies; this thanks to the proximity of La Spezia to the industrial centers of Turin, Genoa and Milan. The first leg of the journey was Gibraltar, which was reached by passing south of the Balearics because the northern coasts of the latter were poorly lit.

After replenishing the ship with naphtha, they left for the Azores islands and specifically stopped at Fayal and Punta Delgada. Subsequently from Fayal they went to Halifax where in the same period the Prince of Wales stopped. The latter treated Commander Conz well and this meant that the Italian ship enjoyed greater visibility.

As the fourth leg of the voyage, the ship went to Boston but on the way it found a thick fog and a storm. Despite this, they arrived a day early, so they had to stop eight miles offshore to be able to reach the port on the day when the ceremony dedicated to them was scheduled. Further refueling was made at New Port; later they arrived in New York where they had to delay their departure by one day due to the imminent arrival of the Belgian royalty.

The seventh stop was Philadelphia (photo on the right) in which they were forced to change navigation from sea to river even if they encountered difficulties in crossing the Delaware River as the ship was too big to pass easily. They also had to sail at night (thanks to the excellent American lighting) due to the presence of haze which prevented visibility during the day.

After crossing the river they arrived in Annapolis; here the crew needed to get supplies of fresh water to clean the hull of the ship but since the reserves of the city were not sufficient they had to resort to the bourgeois cisterns of Baltimore. The last stop was Norfolk, where the last refueling took place before embarking on the return journey.

The return journey began from Norfolk to Fayal (Azores). Commander Conz attempted to shorten the route to avoid inconveniences such as rough seas and disturbances. The local authorities also created problems when it came to refueling with food, fuel oil and coal since the island didn't have enough. Once the obstacles were resolved, they left for Gibraltar where they stopped a short time without refueling. The journey ended with the arrival in Taranto, characterized by a "coarse" sea and consequently rolled up to 28 degrees per side.

The Campaign in North America, started to restore the legitimate prestige of the exhausted country, achieved its objectives; strengthening the weak ties that had been created with the distant Italian communities of America and redeeming the image of a good and generous country.

A success achieved, as always in difficult moments, thanks to the active contribution of the navy and its men, who yesterday as today, without saving energy and with the pride of being Italian, wield our flag on all the seas of the world.

(photo: MM / web)

This article is the result of the training course of school-work alternation for young students of the Higher Education Institute "G. De Sanctis" in Rome with the Historical Office of the Navy.