Italian expeditions to Antarctica




 TAKE NOTE: this section is under updating, so you can see only a draft copy, to be implemented also   with some  information already avalilable in the Italian version of this web site.  Many of the covers illustrating the National Italian Plan 1985-2004 are ALREADY available. Click on the active links, choosing the appropriate expedition year, in the following. We invite the readers to contact the web master (from the HOME page) if they want to send other information or corrections.

 We must thanks Mark Jurisich and Fabio Vaccarezza who are developing this section.

 Mark Jurisich has  completed a detailed monograph on "Italian Antarctic Expeditions 1957-1995". Now it is available,  click HERE to read a short comment and how to order it. (We suggest to use your BACK button to come back to this page, after the vision of the Monograph announcement). 


 If you wish to read some basic information on Antarctica click HERE.

If you wish to see the photos of some ships which were used in Italian expeditions, click HERE.


 First Italian expedition to Antarctica was made during IGY 1957-58 by the Institute of Polar Geography under Professor Silvio Zavotti. (An article by Zavotti in UK Polar Post No.85 lists the expeditions). Since 1957, and prior to their first logistically independent expedition in the 1985-86 summer, support for Italian activities in Antarctica was largely provided by NZ with expeditions centered at Scott Base. The links are between Italy’s Alpine Club & National Research Council (CNR) and the Antarctic Division DSIR of NZ.



Franco Faggioni commenced seismological measurements and observations at Scott Base for 12 months during IGY.  Mail is not recorded.


1958/59 (link is active)

Istituto Geografico Polare Missione Antartica

A reconnaissance party of two scientists, Professor Silvio Zavotti & Commander Georgio Costango. Vessel departed Italy in December 58 (covers are known cancelled Civita Nova Marche 16 Dec & 27 Dec 58); expedition went to Bouvet Island on a fishing boat named CM VI.

They looked for a site for a permanent base, but after bad weather they only stayed one day. 1500 covers were produced.


1967/68 (link is active)

Carlo Mauri visited the Dry Valleys and Scott Base as a guest of NZ, whilst there he climbed Mt Terror.  He also took part in the ascent of Mt Erebus with several New Zealanders.


1968/69 (link is active)

Club Alpino Italiano (Alpine Club of Italy) Antarctic Expedition

Four members were invited to work at Scott Base:

  Carlo Marui leader Alessie Ollier mountaineer  Ignazio Piussi mountaineer, Dr Marcello Manzoni geologist

Mauri & Ollier worked with the Victoria University of Wellington and the NZ Geological Survey parties in the Boomerang Range, while Manzoni & Piussi worked at NZ Vanda Station in the Dry Valleys.

First Italian Antarctic Expedition of the National Research Council

Two members from the Genoa Institute of Oceanography also undertook an expedition that year.

Professor AG Segre             geologist, leader

C Stocchino                    meteorologist



San Giuseppe Due Expedition

Organized by entrepreneur Giovanni Aimone Cat, who also built the 16m length sailing vessel MV San Giuseppe Due with the help of the Italian Navy.  The expedition had six members, 3 crew and 3 expeditioners:

G Martuscelli navigator, F Di Jorio sailor, PG Airoldi alpinist

San Giuseppe Due departed Anzio (Rome) on 27 Jun 69 and sailed via Gibraltar, Las Palmas, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Mar Del Plata, Puerto Madrin, Port Stanley and Ushuaia finally arriving at Decepcion Island on 31 Dec 69 where they met up with US research vessel RV Hero.

San Giuseppe Due then departed Decepcion Island on 19 Jan 70 for Argentine Antarctic base Almirante Brown where she stayed 22-25 Jan, then she went to USA Palmer Station 25-28 Jan and returned to Almirante Brown to wait for good weather to cross the Drake Passage. Some of the crew abandoned ship at Almirante Brown and flew home. The Italian Navy then provided two navigators F Zarattini & S Di Mauro and aircraft pilot D Trentin who all arrived on the icebreaker ARA General San Martin on 19 Feb and were transferred aboard. San Giuseppe  Due then sailed into Port Stanley on 4 Mar 70 and finally returned to Anzio on 21 Nov 70.

The only known covers from the voyage (perhaps 10 according to the commander of the vessel) are on light grey paper impressed in maroon with “S.Giuseppe Due / Roma”.



Dr M Manzoni and Prof Carlo Stocchino of the Institute of Oceanography at Genoa returned to Scott Base to prepare for future activities.



Second Italian Antarctic Expedition of the National Research Council

Five members departed Italy on 22 Nov 73 on board San Giuseppe Due, bound for NZ:

Professor Aldo Segre leader, geologist, Messina University

Dr Marcello Manzoni paleomagnetist, CNR Marine Geology Laboratory

Dr Carlo Stocchino meteorologist, CNR Physical Atmosphere Institute

Clemente Maffei mountaineer

Ignazio Piussi mountaineer, Club Alpino Italiano


They arrived at Lyttelton on  ………., departed on  ………….. and arrived at Scott Base on …………. where they were joined by Colin Monteath from the NZ Dept of Scientific & Industrial Research. The party undertook research in South Victoria Land around Vanda Station in the Dry Valleys. About 1000 covers were produced.

Naval Institute of Naples Antarctic Expedition

That same year there was another voyage of the San Giuseppe Due. Master was Captain Giovanni Aimone Cat plus a crew of 4 sub officers from the Italian Navy:

Mario Camilli                 2nd Chief Engineer

Giovanni Federici            Sergeant Engineer

Tito Mancini                  Sergeant Navigator

Ginacarlo Fede              Sergeant Radioman

Dario Trentin                 aircraft pilot joined at Port Stanley


They undertook research for the Naval Institute of Naples and the Italian Shipping Institute. Vessel departed Torre del Greco Naples on 1 Jul 73, visited La Maddalena Italy, Gibraltar, Las Palmas Spain, Salt Island Portugal, Recife, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires 7 Nov, Mar Del Plata Argentine, Puerto Madryn Argentine, Port Stanley Falklands 27 Nov (late mail cancelled Port Stanley 19 Dec 73), Ushuaia 25-31 Dec, Decepcion Island 4 Jan 74, Port Lockroy 12 Jan, USA Palmer Station 14 Jan, BAT Argentine Islands 17-25 Jan, Almirante Brown 25 Jan, Decepcion Island 1 Feb, Orcadas 9 Feb, Signy Island 11 Feb, South Orkneys, Grytviken South Georgia 21 Feb where they met up with RRS Bransfield, departed South Georgia 18 Mar, South Sandwich Is, Cape Town, St Helena 14 April, Ascension, Cape Verde Portugal, Mauritania, Las Palmas Spain, Gibraltar, returning to Anzio Rome on 27 June 74.     Possibly 1500 covers were produced.


1975/76 (link is active)

there was a 15 man expedition led by Professor Renato Cepparo in the Norwegian vessel Rig Mate.  Party was made up of climbers and scientists; one group stayed on King George Island, another group landed on Wiencke Island to climb mountains.


1976/77  (link is active)         

Third Italian Antarctic Expedition of the National Research Council

The 3rd CNR team operated in the Trans Antarctic Mountains during November and December 1976. The party comprised four Italian and one NZ DSIR members:

            Prof Carlo Stocchino  leader, I di Menno Italian Navy, E Rossi  Italian Navy,

  W  Bonatti field assistant, G Ball  NZ DSIR, field assistant.

The party were in the Wright Valley near Vanda Station.  

1977-78 ANTARCTICA  2 (link is active)

A party of five lead by Cdr.Flavio Barbiero aboard an inflatable boat attempted to cross the Drake Passage to gain King George Island. They were unable to cross the passage and were rescued by a chilean tug.

Flavio Barbiero was deputy leader with Cepparo expedition and discovered, on the King George Is.  remains of a fossilized forest.

No mail is recorded from this travel. But in Milan on the february 17,1978 was used a special souvenir postmark (JPEG: BARBIERO)

No further details are available about this expedition.


In Nov 82 Dr M Manoni and Professor Carlo Stocchino visited Scott Base to prepare for future activities.



Dr M Manoni and Professor Carlo Stocchino visited Hallett Station to prepare for future activities.


1985/86  1° expedition:  (LINK IS ACTIVE)    

See also the photos and maps of Baya Terra Nova Base and Dome C, clicking HERE.     

Helicopters NZ provided support for MV Polar Queen, under Capt M Aklestad.


flight Terra Nova Bay to Cape Washington on 28 Dec 85

flight Terra Nova Bay to Mt Melbourne on 31 Dec 85

flight Terra Nova Bay to Miller Nunatak on 1 Jan 86


Vessel returned to Lyttelton on 27 Feb 86.


1986/87   2° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

Vessel MS Finnpolaris departed Genoa on 15 Oct 86 to locate a site for a permanent station in Antarctica. The vessel visited Lyttelton 3 Dec 86 then went to Scott Base. Mail with Finnpolaris date cachets 19 Dec 86 or 21 Dec 86 may be the dates of arrival and departure at Scott Base. Finnpolaris was then in Lyttelton port on 5 Jan 87. Helicopters NZ provided support for transit of team from Scott Base to Terra Nova Bay camp site where the base was established and for further exploration.

flight Gerlache Bay to Priestley Glacier on 25 Dec 86

flight Gerlache Bay to Mt Melbourne on 25 Dec 86

flight Terra Nova to Cape King on 11 Jan 87


About 200 items were flown to Scott Base on 20 Jan 87 and mailed from there that day. Some mail with date cachet MS Finnpolaris 26 Feb 87 has an arrival cancel Lyttelton 26 Feb 87, possibly brought back on Soviet vessel Profesor Vize, or Operation Deep Freeze vessel MV Green Wave.


Two researchers from the Instituto di Fisica dell ’Atmosfera, Dall ‘Oglio de Bernardis, left the Terra Nova base camp in November 86 for 3 months searching for station sites for erection of an astronomical telescope. No mail is recorded from the journey.

There was a large quantity of mail posted at Lyttelton on 2 & 3 March 87, shortly after MS Finnpolaris reached there. Vessel arrived back in Genoa port on 8 April 87.


1987/88   3° expedition:   (LINK IS ACTIVE)     

MS Finnpolaris arrived in Lyttelton on 7 Dec 87. Vessel arrived at Scott Base on 21 Dec 87. Helicopters NZ provided support.  MS Finnpolaris was at Lyttelton on 6 Jan 88.  Finnpolaris departed Terra Nova Bay on 19 Feb 88 and returned to Lyttelton on 29 Feb 88.


flight MS Finnpolaris to Cape Hallett on 16 Dec 87

flight MS Finnpolaris 72°S 179°W for Ice Reece (reconnaissance) on 18 Dec 87

flight MS Finnpolaris for Ice Reece (reconnaissance)72°S on 19 Dec 87


flight MV Polar Queen to Terra Nova on 12 Jan 88


1988/89   4° expedition:   (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

SPV Barken arrived at Lyttelton on 1 Dec 88. SPV Barken was at Terra Nova Bay on 12 Dec 88.  Helicopters NZ provided support. 

flight Terra Nova Bay to Tucker Glacier on 7 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Priestley Glacier on 7 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Calfee Nunatak on 11 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Larson Glacier on 12 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Cape Hallett on 14 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Aviator Glacier on 15 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to Priestley Glacier on 17 Jan 89

flight Terra Nova Bay to David Glacier on 18 Jan 89


Mail with MV Barken  cachets is cancelled at Lyttelton on 24 Jan 89, it may be the return date for the vessel.


NR Ogs Explora returned to Lyttelton on 28 Feb 89. Most mail is cancelled Lyttelton 1-3 Mar 89. Some cacheted covers are known cancelled San Francisco 9 Mar 89, so it may have also transited there on the way back.


1989/90    5° expedition:   (LINK IS ACTIVE)    

MV Cariboo arrived Lyttelton 23 Nov 89. Some MV Cariboo cacheted covers are known cancelled Christchurch 7 Feb 90.


Some SPV Barken covers are cancelled at Scott Base on 6 Feb 90.



Some Ogs Explora cacheted covers are known cancelled Christchurch 16 Feb 90. Vessel returned to Lyttelton 1 Mar 90.


1990/91   6° expedition:         (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

M/n Italica arrived at Scott Base on 28 Jan 91.  Vessel returned to Lyttelton 4 Mar 91.


Helicopters NZ provided support.

flight McMurdo to Terra Nova Bay “First Landing at Italian Station on 13 Nov 1990.



1991/92    7° expedition:    (LINK IS ACTIVE)        

M/n Italica arrived at Scott Base on 10 Jan 92.  Vessel returned to Lyttelton


1992/93  8° expedition:        (LINK IS ACTIVE)    

M/n Italica (?)           Vessel returned to Lyttelton on 16 Mar 93.


1993/94  9° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 


1994/95   10° expedition:         (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

M/n Italica was at Lyttelton on 4 Jan 95.


1995/96   11° expedition:       (LINK IS ACTIVE)  

M/n Italica was at Lyttelton 20 Feb 96.

Il Capo Spedizione Antonino Cucinotta

Terra Nova Bay Penguin Post

1996/1997   12°expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

1997/1998  13° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

1998/1999  14° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

1999/2000  15° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) 

2000/2001  16° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From 23rd of October 2000 to 27th February 2001.


2001/2002  17° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From the 15th of October 2001 to the 28th of February 2002.

2002/2003  18° expedition(LINK IS ACTIVE) From October 2002 to February 2003

2003/2004 19° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From October 2003 to 15th March 2004 then to Italy (foreseen 18th May 2004).

2004/2005 20° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From October 2004 to 27th February 2005 then to Italy 

2005/2006 21° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From the 13 of October 2005 to 9th  November 2006, in two different periods. 

2006/2007 22° expedition: (LINK IS ACTIVE) From the 16 of October 2005 to 3 February 2007, in two different periods and loctions: M. Zucchelli base and Concordia dome C. 




Marenga, A. News from Italy; Ice Cap News, p163, Sept-Oct 1973.

Marenga, A. The Second Italian Antarctic Expedition of the National Research Council; Ice Cap News, Vol .., p30, 1974.

Marenga, A. The Antarctic Voyages of the Motor Vessel ‘San Giuseppe Due’; Ice Cap News Vol 21, pp97-98, pp142-143, p165, 1976.


We thank very much Mr. Steven McLachlan who gave us the possibility to show his web sites:

on the Mario Zucchelli Station (ex baia TerraNova) at: 

on Italian-French joint station Concordia at:  

on Italian vessel ITALICA at: 


Useful links:

We invite the collctors and Atarctica lovers to visit a very nice web site on the Ross Dependency (New Zealand), full of  interesting covers:  

See also the Italian section of his website at: 

and Italian Philatelic FORUM: topic on Antarctic base: 


last update  on the 19th of Septemebr 2007



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