Video: Two Divers Discover Rare 16th-Century Wreck Near Genoa

Comune di Camogli / Facebook

Published Jun 21, 2020 8:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two commercial divers recently discovered a wooden shipwreck off Camogli, Genoa which could well be the remains of the Santo Spirito e Santa Maria de Loreto, a storied ragusa-style galleon that went down in 1579.

Two divers from an underwater construction company, Edoardo Sbaraini and Gabriele Succi, encountered a set of wooden timbers at a depth of about 150 feet in the vicinity of Punta Chiappa, south of Camogli. They reported the finding to the Archaeological Superintendency of Liguria, which launched an investigation in collaboration with Italian cultural protection authorities.

Wreck finds from the early modern era are rare in the Mediterranean, and the discovery presents an unusual opportunity for archaeologists to learn more about regional ship construction methods of the period. "Certainly the wooden comb elements, a double skeleton, are a rare find: [there are] only five ships of this type in the Mediterranean, the only one in Italy [is]  that of Punta Chiappa," said Luca Trigona, an underwater archaeologist with the superintendency, speaking to local media. "We will need time for the organization and execution of the investigations, but the new wreck Camogli 1 will certainly be a mine of information for the history of the Mediterranean."

Scoperto un nuovo, sensazionale relitto nel mare di Camogli Un nuovo relitto è stato scoperto negli abissi di Camogli...

Posted by Comune di Camogli on Friday, June 19, 2020

The story of the Santo Spirito e Santa Maria de Loreto is well-known in the region. Thanks to abundant historical records, it is known that she went onto the rocks in a storm off Punta Chiappa on October 29, 1579. The local inhabitants pitched in to rescue the crew, despite the risk of plague (an epidemic was under way in Genoa, her last port of call). Salvage efforts managed to recover a portion of her cargo, but much of it went down with the ship. 

Over the past 50 years, many attempts have been launched to find the Santo Spirito's site, and while the identity of the wreck at Punta Chiappa has not yet been confirmed, it is the strongest potential find yet. An examination of the site is in progress and the superintendency is developing a large-research project with international partners, including an attempt to identify the vessel.