Ah, the Italian Mediterranean! That glamorous place of blue skies and calm seas that we know so well. Or think we do, just as we think we know the look of the boats, products of a languid and storied playground for Dolce Vita types. As in the myth of Athena, all Italian boats are always stepping out of Zeus' forehead like full-grown goddesses. It's 'in the blood,' people say.
But just as it is not always summer in Italy (take my word for it), there are also beautiful boats that are hard-fought elaborations and evolutions of classic design campaigns. That was the situation when I went to La Spezia for a sea trial on the latest product from Ferretti. La Spezia itself is a good example of the 'real' Italy: Certainly not the world's most beautiful port, having been developed around a naval base and a commercial harbor, its working area is modern and brash. But nearby there are some beautiful seaside villages, steeped in history, where it is easy to see what attracted the Roman Legions here and why they built massive forts to defend the place. Take this beauty amid raw industrial power, supplement it with the presence of many wonderful restaurants, and you arrive at just the ambience for which this new Ferretti was designed.
Like the evolving character of La Spezia, the design of the Ferretti 731 has moved on from the builder's earlier conservative approach. The classic styling that was so much a part of the Ferretti legend has now evolved a more modern sporting look. There are also a number of innovations in this landmark design that bring the 731 into the forefront of modern yacht styling.
Notable among these is the way that the flybridge helm has been moved from its traditional position at the front of the fly to a more central position. Here there is a control console with its own wind deflector. This position makes so much sense. First it gives the driver more chance to stay in contact with the rest of the guests because they will tend to be in front rather than behind him. Also, the visibility aft is much better, which makes docking stern-to easier. With this layout, the flybridge has in fact been reversed so that the sun bed is forward of the helm and the dining/seating area is behind. An electrically powered Bimini comes out from the arch mast to provide a very effective sunshade; finally, there is a bar and barbecue cabinet.
The 731 has very large side windows in the hull. These have become a feature of larger yachts; this is one of the smallest yachts that I have come across to have these windows, which bring a huge amount of light to the amidships master stateroom. There is even a panoramic view from the bed, although it is restricted on the port side by the en suite bathroom. However, the bathroom itself gains a view, though in port you would probably pull the blinds most of the time.
Other highlights show how the Ferretti team is moving forward. There is a lighter look to the interior, thanks to teak with a tactile matte finish that has replaced the heavily lacquered cherry wood paneling of old. Lighter colors are also used for the leather settees; overall, darkness has been replaced by light to give a sharper, more modern feel to the interior.