Giancarlo Pasquini

A master mariner capable of sailing where art, experience, and drive are still important values.
Silvia Colombini

Giancarlo Pasquini has long navigated the sea of institutions, politics and even the Cavazza Institute. President of Legacoop, Senator of the Republic, and a member of the Cavazza Board of Directors for decades, he has contributed his careful and competent work to improve the lives of so many people, inside and outside the Institute. Retired to private life, he now dedicates himself to his great lifelong passions: the sea and model ship building.


When did you arrive at the Istituto Cavazza?

In 1996, during the election campaign, I visited as a Senator. I was not familiar with the Institute, but I found a warm, welcoming environment that won me over because of the people who were there and still are. When I was offered to join the Board of Directors, I eagerly accepted. I remained for years and provided input during the change of bylaws to transition it into a non-profit organization. Because I studied the relevant legislation, I am specialized in tax and financial matters, and I have always been pleased to contribute even serving as an auditor.


And how did your passion for the sea and for sailing begin?

I was born in 1937, and when I was three years old, in 1940, as soon as the war began, with my father off to the army, I told my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to be a naval engineer. To think that I had never been to the sea. The first time I saw it I was 11 years old, and it was such a thrill to contemplate all that beauty. I used to go to harbours to examine the boats, to admire the first cutters with trapezoidal sails, and maybe that’s how it all began.


Giancarlo Pasquini - picture by Massimo Gennari

What has your experience sailing and at sea taught you in your career?

The thing that navigation teaches is not to overdo things because it is always a huge risk. I am a technician and perhaps I applied this expertise when I began sailing. Modelling also requires patience, precision, and passion.


When did you begin model ship building?

I was always bored at the beach. So even before I bought a small boat, I had started with modelling, an activity to which I dedicated myself with enthusiasm when I retired as a Senator in 2006. I had more time on my hands.


Which of the completed sailing ships are you most proud of?

The Amerigo Vespucci, the Spanish San Felipe and the Wasa, a Swedish ship. Each ship has its own story and that is the criteria by which I choose them. I read many books about ships and the sea that are a great source of inspiration. But it takes a long time to complete a project. For example, finishing the Amerigo Vespucci took me 12 years with a total of 75,000 hours of work. Creating something beautiful gives me great pleasure, but when I realize that I have done something wrong, I just tear everything apart and start over.


Detail of the Swedish sailing ship Wasa - picture by Massimo Gennari


Do young people share this passion?

Unfortunately, it is a world that is disappearing. Not many stores sell the building kits anymore. The few young people interested in model ship building buy the ships already built, with the engine, and everything already done. The pleasure of working with one’s hands on wood has been lost. Sometimes there are thousands of pieces of lath to be hot bent, or electrical gears. I am now building the Bismark battleship which interests me from a technical point of view. It is made of metal, it is very large, and underneath it has a complex electrical system that you turn on, many small details that require time, application, and dedication.


What is the sailing ship you still have not done? 

Nelson’s Victory that won at Trafalgar, but I won’t get into that because it is very difficult. You need to be skilled in woodcarving. I started when I was 27 years old, so I have been doing this activity for sixty years now. To say it is solitary work is an understatement. I have never exhibited too much. There are model ship shows that I don’t attend because I don’t like to boast too much about my work.


Amerigo Vespucci - picture by Massimo Gennari

So, there you have it. Let us thank Giancarlo Pasquini for the privilege of admiring his wonderful miniature masterpieces and for letting us set sail in a wonderful world where art, experience and dedication are still important values.


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