Our Story

The beginnings, the development, the future on the horizon

It was 1950 when Giuseppe Franza, an engineer, started the first operations in the real estate sector, building several of the most important real estate complexes in Messina, shopping centres and hotels.

The first stage of a journey which, a few years later, prompted the Group to take an enthusiastic plunge into the shipping sector, initially by setting up Tourist & Ferry Boat S.p.A. for the private ferry service in the Strait of Messina, and later by increasing the number of routes from Sicily to Italy and from Sicily to the smaller islands, Sardinia, the island of Elba and other tourist destinations, becoming the most important ship owner in the Mediterranean for short shipping over the years, covering 30 ports with 30 ships.

Grand Hotel Timeo Belmond - Luxury Hotel Taormina

Grand Hotel Timeo Belmond – Luxury Hotel Taormina

The circle widens

Over time, the growing development of the shipping sector enabled the Group to develop its activities further, directing its investments towards the creation of the Framon Hotels chain and new business areas ranging from the industrial/environmental sector to telecommunications.

A new beginning

A new beginning

One of the most important operations for the Group’s growth was the creation of Caronte & Tourist S.p.A., a private shipping company resulting from the merger of the two historical leading players in maritime transport in Calabria and Sicily: Caronte S.p.A., owned by the Maracena family, and Tourist Ferry Boat S.p.A. owned by the Franza family.


Foundation of Gruppo Franza. The construction and building company from Messina created buildings, shopping centres, offices, hotels and residences.


Gruppo Franza entered the maritime transport sector.


Foundation of Tourist Ferry Boat: the first private shipping company between Messina and Villa San Giovanni.


Foundation of L’Ancora, the official refreshment point for all the Group’s boats sailing the Strait.


Foundation of NGI – Navigazione Generale Italiana, offering connections between Sicily and the Aeolian Islands.


Foundation of  Framon Hotel Group, the first Sicilian hotel chain to manage luxury hotels throughout the country.

Starting with two hotels and a residence in Messina, within a few years, Framon succeeded in building, converting and developing 24 hotels throughout Italy, with no fewer than 13 in Sicily and the rest in Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Milan, Padua, Rapallo and Venice.


Foundation of ESI – Ecological Scrap Industry S.p.A.: a company specialising in the recovery and resale of pure lead from the annual treatment of more than 20,000 spent batteries.


The partnership between Caronte and Tourist Ferry Boat led to the foundation of Cartour S.p.A., a maritime company that started the Messina/Salerno coastal navigation line, linking Sicily and Campania twice a day.

A shipping line capable of improving the logistics and distribution aspect of many sectors, such as the Sicilian food industry.


Gruppo Franza acquired 100% of the football club F.C. Messina Peloro and took it into Serie A for three years.


The merger of the historic maritime transport companies Caronte and Tourist Ferry Boat led to the foundation of Caronte & Tourist S.p.A., a company which over the years would go on to develop its entire shipping business as a joint venture with the Caronte Group.


Building on expertise gained in the real estate sector since the 1960s, the Neptunia S.p.A. real estate group was set up in 2004 following a corporate reorganisation. The company manages commercial properties, courts, care homes, shopping centres, banks, supermarkets, car dealerships and car parks.


The joint venture between Gruppo Franza and the renowned Spanish chain NH Hotels led first to the establishment of NH Framon and later NH Italia, the largest Italian company offering 80 hotels.


Joint venture with the Eden Viaggi Group, Italy’s leading company with 40 holiday villages and a turnover of €350 billion, to create a 218-room resort in the sandy dunes of Marina di Butera.


In March 2008 Mandarin was born, a radio telecommunications operator that won the tender for the BWA WiMax frequency for the Sicily region.


La Caronte & Tourist Isole Minori acquired the historic Sicilian shipping company Siremar, thus offering maritime connections between Sicily and five distinct areas, namely the Aeolian islands, Naples, Ustica, Pantelleria, the Aegadian islands and the Pelagie islands.


The prestigious British fund Basalt became a shareholder in Caronte & Tourist, enlarging the fleet with five new ships.