The Italian Arctic expedition 1899–1900: What happened to the first support party?
Journal article, 2021

Beginning in the seventeenth century, numerous attempts were made to reach a very high latitude or even the North Pole. One of the more successful of these was the Italian Arctic expedition of 1899–1900, led by Luigi Amedeo di Savoia (Duke of the Abruzzi). Using two successively returning support parties, di Savoia’s second-in-command, Captain Umberto Cagni’s party eventually reached 86°34’N north of their base in the Franz Josef Land archipelago before retreating due to lack of supplies. The second support party also returned safely to the base from 83°16’N. However, the first support party, led by Lieutenant Francesco Querini, disappeared without a trace after returning southwards from 82°32’N. Although previous studies have cited starvation from lack of food supplies or accidents as the potential causes of their disappearance, the extant literature does not provide any deeper analyses to explain these events. This study explores the hypothesis that the first support party in fact turned back from a much more westerly position than they thought. This, in combination with an untimely blizzard that prevented travelling for several days, most likely made it impossible for Querini and his two men to return to base before their limited supplies ran out.

Luigi Amedeo di Savoia

Arctic exploration

Italian Arctic expedition

Umberto Cagni

Arctic ice drift


Björn Lantz

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

Polar Record

0032-2474 (ISSN) 1475-3057 (eISSN)

Vol. 57 3 e36

Subject Categories

History of Technology




More information

Latest update

4/5/2022 6