The SS Italia seems to be a bit of mystery ship. During the time of this cargo vessel, there were three other registered steam ships with the name of SS Italia registered in France, Norway, a ferry in Greece and a sailing barque in Italy (see The Hera for what a barque looked like). After searching extensively in various archives, not much could be found about her.
She was built in 1891 as the Gulf of Florida by Hawthorn Leslie & Co in Hebburn-on-Tyne. Her measurements at 99m x 12.8m x 7.2m and 2,792 grt made her typical steel hulled cargo ship of the late 19th century. No reference to her engine, which is likely to have been a triple-extension-engine producing somewhere between 250 nhp and 350 nhp (next time diving on her, we will need to spend a bit of time investigating the engine). We now from the salvage in 1966, that she had a stern gun mounted, a normal occurrence for cargo vessels operating in WW I.
Between 1891 and 1895, 6 cargo ships were build with approx. the same configuration, equipped with triple expansion engines from the wharf itself and two single boilers. Of all the six cargo ships on the SS Novillo has a photograph in its archives.
No information could be found on who her Italian owners are and when she was registered in Italy. On her last voyage, she was carrying her crew of 63 and a full load of welsh coal from Cardiff to Toronto. On 11/05/1917 (or 14/05/1917 - two references found) in heavy fog, the Lady Charlotte had run aground a 3 miles away on St. Mary's. The SS Italia hit the Wingletang Ledges on St. Agnes and started to take on water immediately. The crew were signalling for help, but the local inhabitants on St. Agnes thought that the noise was coming from Lady Charlotte.
No reference can be found what happened to the crew, according to the ship registry no records could be found of any casualties (as it is not an English registered vessel, the records could also be missing)