The Luise Group is celebrating their 170th anniversary this year. Yes, now let’s just pause for a moment and think about that for a second. That means they have been in operation longer than the iconic Italian automobile company FIAT (founded in 1899); they are older than those Gucci loafers you have in the back of your closet (founded in 1921); they have been around longer than that box of DeCecco pasta, a staple in every Italian household (founded in 1886).
It’s really quite an accomplishment for any business to be able to say they have been operating for 170 years, however for one operating in the yachting industry, is a mammoth feat. The Luise Group was founded by Joseph Luise who is known as one of the forefathers of the industry having established J. Luise & Sons, as the company was then known, in Naples in 1847. He started working in the harbour office working alongside his brothers Paolo, Luigi and Vincenzo. Together, under the guidance of their father, they worked in all facets of the Mercantile Port of Naples, at a particular time in history when elite tourism and the popularity of the Grand Tour was flourishing. Members of the British noble class started to travel to the area of Naples at that time to enjoy the mild winter climate, to study art and music, and to visit the latest discoveries in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The adventurous climbed Mount Vesuvius and later on in the 19th century, many started to realize the best way to explore the area was by sea.
The boom in high-level tourism brought with it an urgent need to develop professional marine services in the area, and the brothers became involved in the development of the region’s marine infrastructure. They had a hand in developing professional services for the industry and as a consequence were able to lobby for cruising friendly legislation to support this burgeoning industry. In fact, when the Ministry for Maritime Defence arrived to organize the logistical services and the installation of fuel lines for the upcoming Olympic Games in 1960, you can guess who they called.
Despite all of the history and rich heritage, captains will tell you that they will still see Francesco Luise waiting for them on them docks as they are pulling into Marina Molo Luise. “I have a full view of the Bay of Naples and Marina Mergellina outside my office window where our headquarters is located. I wish I could do it more, but when I can, I like to join our team down on the docks to personally greet the captains and crew as they arrive. During peak cruising times, sometimes it feels like I am down there all day, saying hello and working the phones,” Francesco Luise, Managing Partner of the Luise Group told us. “No matter how big we are now, covering so many ports and marinas along the entire coast of Italy, Naples is still very much the heart of the company and the captains and crew are part of our family. We take great pride in making sure that every detail of their cruise is executed perfectly,” Francesco continued.
While he politely declined to tell us who the most recent ultra-famous visitors to the area were, he did tell us about some famous clients from years past, mostly notably Sir Winston Churchill, who was a frequent guest and trusted client for many years.
Today, while Naples continues to serve as the heart of the company, the Luise Group has expanded to assist superyachts along the entire coastline. From Sanremo in the north to Sardinia to Sicily in the south, and this year now in the Adriatic with a new head office in Venice, they are extending their agency services to support vessels in what seems like every port and marina in Italy. From berth reservations to careful itinerary planning, they take care of it all. But it’s those “hard to imagine”, unbelievable one-of-a-kind requests that they are especially known for being able to pull off, time and time again. Need to organize a private candlelit tour of the Blue Grotto? Have an owner who wants a private concert with Andrea Bocelli in the San Carlo Opera House? How about a customized treasure hunt in Castel dell’Ovo for the owner’s kids? Francesco is too humble to share those details with us, but we did manage to wrangle a few of these great tidbits from some of his staff.