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Italy - Houseflags of Italian Maritime Companies (La-Le)

Last modified: 2023-01-07 by rob raeside
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La Columbia

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 July 2008

At the 1940 Spanish source at (fourth of third complete row): House flag of Soc[ietà] “La Columbia”, Genoa - White cross throughout defining four fields: upper fields red (hoist) and green (fly), lower fields green (hoist) and red (fly); on the cross are placed seven five-pointed stars, five on the horizontal arms and two on the vertical arms
When compared to the funnel on the left, which is partly black, the stars seem to be dark blue. This flag with blue stars would then be a combination of the national colours with the alternative Italian colour.
According to (mostly a place holder, as yet), the complete company name was ‘"La Columbia" Società Marittima per Trasporto di Petrolio e Derivati’: i.e. “The Columbian”, Shipping Co. for the Transportation of Oil and Derivates’.
It is difficult to find coherent information on a firm mentioned in the 1940 source. On the internet a few tankers are mentioned for instance ‘Esso Venezia’ (built 1955), ‘Esso Napoli’ (built 1961), and ‘Pleiades’ (operated from 1969 on). Luckily a web file (in Italian) celebrating 115 years of Esso’s presence in Italy gives the dates: founded 1917 to help with wartime oil transportation, integrated into Esso Italiana in 1973.  
Jan Mertens, 6 March 2008

La Creola

image by Jarig Bakker, 19 February 2005

La Creola Soc. Anon., Genoa - Green-red-white-red-green burgee; on white: black "LA CREOLA".
Source: Brown's Flags and Funnels of British and Foreign Steamship Companies, compiled by F.J.N. Wedge, Glasgow, 1926 [wed26]
Jarig Bakker, 19 February 2005

See also: Alta Italia

La Sicania

image by Jarig Bakker, 18 December 2004

Societá Anonima di Navigazione "La Sicania", Trapani - blue flag, over all white diamond charged with red "S"; in all corners a white 6-pointed star.
Source: Brown's Flags and Funnels of British and Foreign Steamship Companies, compiled by F.J.N. Wedge, Glasgow, 1926 [wed26]
Jarig Bakker, 18 December 2004

La Veloce

image by Miles Li, 2 July 2016

The history of this shipping company here (with image of house flag) at "La Veloce Linea di Navigazione Italiana a Vapore was founded in 1884 to run services between Italy and South America (...). The company was taken over in 1883 by M. Bruzzi & Co who formed La Veloce. (...)  The firm of Fratelli Lavarello (...) was taken over together with their fleet in 1891. In 1900 Italian banks and Navigazione Generale Italiana commenced buying out German shareholders and by 1901 the company was effectively controlled by NGI and the official name became La Veloce Navigazione Italiana a Vapore. La Veloce was absorbed into NGI in 1924 and was liquidated as a seperate company." A slightly bigger picture (is this St George slaying the dragon on this Genoan firm's flag?) here: and lower on the same page, another poster showing it.
Jan Mertens, 22 December 2003

Acording to Mystic Seaport: Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels at, I believe I can confirm tha this is St George slaying the dragon, although the design is still rather small (a line drawing, not coloured). It's flag no. 1249 on p. 61 of chapter "House Flags and Funnels of Steam Vessels".
Jan Mertens, 22 December 2003

There is a good image on the Maritime Timetable Images website, showing a poster dating from 1913.  St George and the dragon are quite clear, and although the drawing is uncoloured the shield has a red cross of Genoa.  
On above poster, other symbols are also shown: the five-pointed red star as painted on the funnels and the company seal featuring the house flag.
Jan Mertens, 15 April 2007

Lauro Lines (Flotta Lauro)

image by Jarig Bakker, 14 July 2004

From Flotta Lauro (or Lauro Lines), Naples: a blue swallowtail bearing a white five-pointed star.
At, More blue swallowtails here, together with a short history (in Italian: I understand the firm began business as a cargo shipper in 1912 and, going bankrupt in 1980, was sold off to the Mediterranean Shipping Company).
From "Il "Comandante" morň nel 1978 e due anni dopo la Lauro Lines entrň in fallimento. Fu venduta alla MSC (o Mediterranean Shipping Company che chiamň la flotta acquistata prima Starlauro e poi Mediterranean Shipping Company", meaning that two years after the Commander's death in 1978 Lauro Lines went bankrupt and was sold to MSC which company first called its acquisition Starlauro and later imposed its own name.
All white stars on these pages, sometimes on a tapering flag (drawn not photographed).
Jan Mertens, 14 July 2004 and 22 February 2007

Brown (author: F. J. N. Wedge, 1951) [wed51] list this as "Achille Lauro, Naples".
Jarig Bakker, 14 July 2004

image by Jarig Bakker, 21 February 2007

image by Jarig Bakker, 21 February 2007

Post card collection [] shows a a blue swallowtail flag with a large yellow star on it. According to, and (among many other sources on line), this star should be white, but the star is not dense and much larger than in [wed51].
At, the company logo shows a tappering flagoid. Was it so?
At, it says that "Lauro Lines merged with the Chandris Line in 1985" and that "in 1987 (…) the Lauro Line became Star Lauro". In our page Jan Mertens says that the company went "bankrupt in 1980" and "was sold off to the Mediterranean Shipping Company". At, it says that it was sold "to the Mediterranean Shipping Company in 1987, with its subsequent renaming as StarLauro, then MSC". The original company name (or nickname) was apparently Flotta Lauro.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 February 2007

At the 1940 page at "Achille Lauro", Naples - A different shade of blue (not significant in this case, I believe) and a white star which is small and not fat. The swallowtail is indeed not tapered.
Jan Mertens, 8 January 2008

See also: Mediterranean Shipping Company

Lauro & Montella

image by Jarig Bakker, 14 July 2004

From Brown (1951) - Lauro & Montella, Naples - I guess this is related: blue with a yellow diamond, charged with blue letters turned L - M - L.
Jarig Bakker, 14 July 2004


image by Jarig Bakker, 1 September 2005

Rimorchiatori Laziali S.p.A., Rome - white flag, blue fly-diagonal; in top hoist blue "R", in fly bottom blue "L".
Source: Brown's Flags and Funnels Shipping Companies of the World, compiled by J.L. Loughran, Glasgow, 1995.
Jarig Bakker, 1 September 2005

"Rimorchiatori" are tugboats (in French, "remorqueurs"). "Laziali" might be the adjective form of "Lazio", Latium.
Ivan Sache, 2 September 2005

Lega Navale Italiana

image by Jarig Bakker, 11 July 2004

image from

From the Maritime Timetable Images, this 1933 poster of the Lega Navale Italiana showing a flag or pennant with a cross throughout and an emblem centrally on that cross, featuring a crowned anchor, a star, a fasces, an ornamental letter L and a band bearing the words 'Mare Nostrum' (Our Sea, as the Romans said).  The flag's field may have been blue and the cross white as in the picture.  Apparently this last entity still exists, only the emblem has understandably been changed with the words 'Lega Navale Italiana' on the band and ornamental letters LNI on a disk.  Anchor, stars and letters yellow (or gold), band white with dark blue letters and disk light blue.
As a bonus, what appears to be the LNI's burgee: dark blue pennant with white cross throughout and the emblem centrally on the cross (in white, blue and gold).
LNI history (in Italian) at Founded in 1897.  Left of text, a 1938 picture (pennant).  This chief site's emblem has gold letters and a rather dark blue disk.
Jan Mertens, 29 December 2003