The story of the Cantiere Cadenazzi boatyard began in 1890 when Raimondo Cadenazzi moved to the Tremezzina area after working for the Taroni boatyards.
In 1907, after he was granted a licence in respect of public land in Tremezzo 4 to set up a boatyard, Raimondo made changes to the area around his family property, a lovely meadow with fruit trees which led down to the lake and laid the foundations for a well organised boatyard.
Raimondo would run the boatyard with his sons. Two of them soon emigrated to Argentina where they set up a boatyard In the Tigre area, a boatyard which would go on to supply the Argentine navy. Giuseppe however stayed with his father and followed in his footsteps.
Over the years the Cadenazzis specialised In the construction of motorboats in the Taroni style, but especially oared lancias for their wealthy English customers. The lancias Raimondo built were like elegant horse-drawn carriages for the lake, with a backrest, canopy and green cushions with white fringes.
These inglesinas could carry three passengers seated in comfort on the seat at the stern, two oarsmen in the centre, and another passenger at the bow. Six passengers in all. Today it would be unthinkable to set off in an oared lancia with six people on board and take a trip to the other side of the lake.
The skill of the Cadenazzis can be seen from the many design drawings now conserved in the Museo Barca Lariana. These provide accurate details of lines, weights and measurements.
The Cadenazzis were not merely boatbuilders but also skilled designers and draughtsmen.
After Raimondo, it was Giuseppe who would go on to manage the family business which would continue to concentrate on inglesina pleasure boats as well as stars, beccaccinos, dinghies and, before the outbreak of the war, even some competition motorboats.
Giuseppe married a Lenno girl by the name of Fanny, they had 4 children.
Giuseppe died during the Second World War and the boatyard were forced to halt production.
After the death of Giuseppe Cadenazzi, the boatyard premises was rented out. Giuseppe’s son Aldo was still too young to run the business on his own.
So Aldo went to work for Guido Abbate where he learned the trade.
Those were the years when Abbate were building inboard motorboats and young Aldo learned the secrets of the most sophisticated construction techniques.
In 1959, Aldo was now grown up and decided to leave Abbate. He was ready to relaunch the Cadenazzi boatyard.
The first inboard motorboats built by Aldo were called Holiday and these were inspired by the Abbate style. In his first series, Aldo also built luxury seven and eight-metre boats for the sea.
In 1961, an encounter with a Belgian client marked a turning point for the Cadenazzi boatyard.
He bought an outboard motorboat and took it to Belgium to sell it on. It was a success and many other motorboats were ordered. Aldo built five motorboats a year to send to Belgium, fitted with outboard engines and designed for water skiing.
Even though inboard engines were all the rage, Aldo Cadenazzi would put all his energy into developing the technology for outboard motorboats and subsequently, driven by innovation in America, would also concentrate on building sterndrive boats.
His first sterndrive motorboat with a wooden hull was the Gran Lasco 660
The motorboats sold in Belgium bore the names of towns around the lake. It so happens that the most popular of them was the Bellagio. Then there was the Dongo, the Nesso, the SuperComo…
Their friendship and business dealings with Belgium would be decisive for the future of the Cadenazzi boatyard, and here, Maria Teresa, Aldo’s wife, played a fundamental role as far as sales were concerned.
Antonia, Aldo’s daughter says that while her father dealt with construction, her mother was in charge of Public Relations with foreign clients.
The Bellagio motorboat was particularly popular with the Germans. Some of them would come to their boatyard in the winter to watch and film the first stages of construction of their motorboat.
Antonia, says that her first memories date back to that period when she was 4/6 years old. The Germans would arrive in winter to see the first stages of construction of their motorboat. She recalled that there was also a professor of architecture from the University of Baviera.
One autumn some clients came to discuss the purchase of their motorboats. They were all sitting around the table, all smoking, a cloud of smoke over the table, whisky, Cognac … and all of them discussing the motorboat, contract, payments. It was another world compared with the way things are done nowadays….
There were always Cadenazzi boats at the Brussels trade fair thanks to the dedication and efficiency of their Belgian friend who by that stage had become the importer and representative for the brand.
The role he played was crucial. Every year he would attend the trade fairs where he exhibited their motorboats. They would leave by train in wooden crates and when they got there he would polish them up and exhibit them in style.
In the 1970s the boatyard was relocated to the new premises in Lenno and Cadenazzi employed 15 boatbuilders. The old boatyard in Tremezzo would continue to operate as administration office and nautical service where clients could see the boats and try them out before buying.
In the 1970s Cadenazzi began to work with Pirelli, supplying dunnage and wooden sterns for their rubber dinghies. But this was a period which saw profound changes in the market with the arrival of fibreglass and a steady fall in demand for wooden hulls.
According to his daughter Aldo had expected to be building wooden hulls for the rest of his days the way he had learned to at Abbate, but in the 1970s nobody wanted them any more. These were years marked by constant technological innovation, one new idea after another, and he had to try to keep up. So he took the Bellagio motorboat which had been so popular with the Germans and used it as the template for making a fibreglass mould.
Antonia recalls her father coming up with a number of different new designs for the bow and in the end he chose the on she liked best. She chose the name as well, PortoFelice.
So the origin of the PortoFelice 530 was the Bellagio motorboat. It had all that was needed to satisfy water skiing enthusiasts: a powerful engine, storage space for the skis, and space for the towline and handles.
Aldo Cadenazzi also designed a canvas hood.
The PortoFelice was a great success: in all, 60 of these boats would be built.
In those years Cadenazzi focused on production of the Gran Lasco 660 in wood and the Portofelice 530 in fibreglass.
In that period, Aldo shortened the Gran Lasco 660 to produce the XL 620 which was also made of wood.
This marked the birth of the true Cadenazzi style, the look and design which would be a trademark of the entire production line from there on.
Aldo Cadenazzi liked the XL 620 so much that he decided to produce it in fibreglass too, giving it the name SUMMER.
Along came the Nineties and Cantiere Cadenazzi specialised in certifications. There was more red tape from here on in and Aldo, who was well-known for his attention to detail and organisation, became a point of reference for many boatyards.
In 1999 Aldo decided to retire and the last boat he made had to be a wooden one, an XL Summer 620. He left the boatyard, converted to winter storage, to his nephew Michele who is still in business today.