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In contrast, women loom large in the family’s more recent involvement in shipping, in particular Amelia Lauro, the daughter of Gioacchino and sister of Achille, who married Giovanni Grimaldi.
In the second half of the 19th century, Gioacchino Lauro, a shipowner from Sorrento, founded a steamboat shipping enterprise, one of the first joint-stock companies in the Italian shipping industry.
Gioacchino’s son Achille inherited his father’s passion for the sea and business acumen, and in the 1960s and 70s became the owner of Europe’s most important privately owned fleet.
Giovanni Grimaldi, on the other hand, was a lawyer and property owner. He was a man of culture, but did not have the seafaring spirit of his forebears. Hence, it was his wife Amelia who introduced their sons to the sea by asking her brother Achille to take Guido under his stern but wise guidance.
In 1947 Guido and his brothers Luigi, Mario, Aldo and Ugo Grimaldi set up their own business by purchasing a Liberty vessel, a type of cargo ship used by the U.S. fleet during the Second World War that gave rise to the most important privately owned European fleets.
Post-war immigration was at its peak and Grimaldi’s shipping services focused on the Mediterranean/South America route. In the years that followed, as the passengers’ demands for comfort and quality increased, the fleet was upgraded to include new, modern liners.
In the 1960s the Group began to strengthen its freight operations with bulk freighters and tankers. The expansion in the Ro/Ro sector and, more specifically, in the transport of vehicles came in 1969, when the Group started operating regular liner services linking Italy and the United Kingdom. The Grimaldi Group’s car carrier services rapidly won the trust of the major vehicle manufacturers, who needed to ship their vehicles between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
This development marks the beginning of the Group’s modern period: over the last forty years the focus on the Ro/Ro sector has in fact been the driving factor for growth. At the same time, the Group expanded its service network to serve not only the Mediterranean/Northern Europe trades, but also the routes between Northern Europe and West Africa and between Northern Europe and South America.