Posted on Friday, October 19, 2012 by Martin Cox
In late September 1932, the celebrated Italian liner REX sailed on her maiden voyage from Genoa to New York. Despite the first crossing being marred by a technical breakdown, the vessel proved to be the fastest on the Atlantic, taking the Blue Riband from the German liner BREMEN in August, 1933 (later in May, 1935, the NORMANDIE took the record).
It was 20 years ago that a book was published on the REX, the greyhound of the seas. It was the first book devoted to an Italian ocean liner and the first for Maurizio Eliseo Printed in an edition of 1,500, it is now a rare collector’s piece.
An exhibition is being held in Izola, the closest village to the Istrian coast where the ship was sunk by Allied planes in September 1944.
Photographs taken from Eliseo’s book are accompanied by others recently taken from the wreck site. Few people may be aware that about half of the hull, from stem to stern remains, as can be seen by the hydrographic survey (see picture above) specially made by Harpha Sea, a specialized scuba company from Koper, Slovenjia. Even one of the four huge bronze propellers of the mammoth ship and its shaft remain visible.
Some items from the debris field have been recovered and put on display at the exhibit… Many pieces which once adorned the vessel are still with us (even some parts of the first class furniture!), such as the ones reproduced in the pictures (a piece of the funnel where there was the green band of the Italian Line livery and a section of decorative wrought iron realized by the renowned Italian artist Mazzucotelli for the first class entrance staircase).
From April to August 2013, the Port Authority of Genoa will hold at their beautiful Palazzo San Giorgio headquarters a large exhibit on the ship. Amongst the curators are Paolo Piccione, the well know maritime historian and Maurizio Eliseo, himself. The latter will also announce a brand new book on the liner, published by Hoepli of Milan, containing a great deal of new material on the REX. Thanks to the efforts of the two Italian maritime historians, amazing treasures are emerging from the basement of Italian museums and archives, such as the tank test hull model of the REX and some other large preliminary reproductions of the intended ship. Thanks to previously unknown vintage documents, it is now ascertained that originally there were to be two sister ships, the REX and the DUX, and there is a 1928 model of them. Provided sufficient interest warrants and sponsorship can also be raised in the US, the Port Authority of Genoa would like to move the exhibit to New York City in September 2013.
If you wish to get more details or support the initiative, please, contact : SSREX2013@transatlantici.com