Commercial ports are among the biggest ports in Italy. But their respective sizes do not depend on the ground surface they cover nor on the length of their docks. They depend on the volume of cargo they handle. So there are two common criteria for calculating the size of a port.
Annual tonnes and TEU: two important parametres
The most obvious measurement to quantify the size of a commercial port is undoubtedly the amount of tonnage that passes through it every year. It is the standard used to rank the largest national and international ports. But this is not the only way to do it. In fact, in many cases it is not the amount of tonnage but rather the number of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) that pass through a port’s docks. A TEU is the standard size of ISO containers: 20 feet long (just over 6 metres) to reach an external volume of 1,360 cubic volumes, equivalent to 38.5 cubic meters.
The largest ports in the world
So the ranking of the largest ports can be drawn up both on the basis of annual tonnes or on the basis of TEUs that pass through a port in a year. The TEU is usually used to identify the largest international ports.
In a ranking that has always been dominated by Asia, especially China, the largest freight port in the world in 2018 was Shanghai with 42.01 million TEUs.
In second place was Singapore (with 36.60 million TEU), and Shenzhen in third with 27.74 million TEU.
To identify the biggest European port in the ranking of the largest ports at the international level, you need to go down to 11th place, where Rotterdam is found with 14.5 million TEUs.
The ranking of the 15 largest Italian ports
To draw up the ranking of the 15 largest Italian ports, the number of tonnes that pass through each port every year is what is taken into consideration. It is a figure that, at the level of medium-sized ports, is more significant. The numbers used and published by Assoporti are up to 2018. So let's find out which is the largest port in Italy.
Port of Trieste - Trieste is the leader in freight traffic, with a total of 62.68 million tonnes of goods per year. The official history of this Adriatic port begins in 1719 with the concession of a free port given by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The importance of this commercial port increased significantly with the opening of the Suez Canal. This led to an expansion of the port’s facilities.
Port of Genoa - Second place in the ranking of the 15 largest Italian ports is the port of Genoa, another historic port on the Italian peninsula. In 2014, it saw the passage of 54.26 million tonnes of goods. With its 700 square metres of surface area on land and 500 square metres of surface area on water, it is the largest among Italian ports.
Port of Livorno – Third on the list among the 15 largest Italian ports is the Port of Livorno, which handles 36.56 million tonnes of goods per year. It has returned to being one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean after a few years of crisis.
Port of Cagliari – A former Punic and then Roman port, the Port of Cagliari handles 35.92 million tonnes per year, not much different from the numbers handled by the Port of Livorno (it is not by chance that in 2017 it was in third place among the largest Italian ports).
Port of Gioia Tauro - In this ranking dedicated to the largest ports in Italy by annual tonnage, the port of Gioia Tauro ranks fifth. If the ranking was based on the TEU, the Calabrian facility would deserve a higher ranking. If in 2018 there were “only” 29.16 million tonnes of goods, in the same year the port boasted 2.32 million TEUs against 725,000 TEUs in Trieste and 2.6 million TEUs in Genoa.
Port of Ravenna - The Emilian port, in 2018, saw the passage of 26.68 million tonnes of goods.
Port of Venice - Among the largest ports in the Mediterranean regarding the cruise sector, the Port of Venice is the seventh Italian port for cargo traffic, with 26.49 million tonnes per year.
Port of Messina - This is the first of Sicily's ports. The data of Assoporti, which bring together the numbers related to Messina and Milazzo, speak of 24.43 million tonnes of goods.
Port of Augusta - Another Sicilian port, this time in the province of Syracuse. In addition to being an important base for the Italian Navy, the port of Augusta registered a flow of 24.19 million tonnes of goods in 2018.
Port of Taranto - In 10th position we find the port of Taranto. It had 20.43 million tonnes of goods per year.
Port of Naples - The port of Naples occupies the 35th position in world rankings for tourist cruises. In 2018, it handled 17.68 million tonnes of goods.
Port of La Spezia - We return to Liguria with another commercial port. Always among the main Italian ports with regard to TEU flows, the Port of La Spezia in 2018 experienced a traffic of 15.78 million tonnes of goods.
Port of Salerno - In 2018, the port of Salerno handled 14.91 million tonnes of goods.
Port of Savona - The third commercial port of Liguria, active since the Middle Ages, in 2018 handled 14.89 million tonnes of goods.
Port of Civitavecchia - To close the ranking of the 15 largest Italian ports is the Port of Civitavecchia, founded by Trajan in 108 A.D., which has become the main trading centre of Mare Nostrum. In 2018, 11.41 million tonnes of goods passed through its docks.