Lt. Cdr Giovan Battista Magnaghi - who directed the Italian Hydrographic Office (in 1899 renamed "Institute") from its foundation in 1872 until 1888, commanding the annual campaigns of the hydrographic vessel "Washington" - actively started surveying the Italian territorial waters. By 1903 the whole Italian coast was surveyed and 229 charts and harbour plans were published, including the first national chart of the port of Genoa.
Meanwhile, in 1880 surveys were extended to the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, and to the coasts of Libya after 1911, so that by 1914 provisional charts of the Libyan coasts were published together with about thirty charts of the Horn of Africa.
Surveys in the overseas colonies were resumed in 1923 with an expedition to Eritrea, to Libya in 1927-29, to the Red Sea in 1928-29 - where research was carried out on local currents and tides still fundamental today - and again in Libya and Somalia in 1930-31. Surveys in Eritrea were completed in 1933-36, and were extended in 1935-39 to Somalia, which resulted in several small and medium-scale charts, and many anchorage plans.
After the war, surveying was resumed off shore and on the high sea, extended to the main lakes, so that over a period of thirty years several hundred charts were published on different scales with a total circulation of over two million copies, associated to the pertinent nautical documents.
Since 1986 the Italian Hydrographic Institute has been participating in the "National Programme of Antarctic Research", and has produced bathymetric maps 1:50,000 1:500,000 of the Ross Sea, where the representation of the land was developed from satellite imagery.
Today, a primary goal is the production of electronic charts, equivalent to the traditional paper-charts that the law requires mariners to have on board. The Italian Hydrographic Institute is working on a portfolio of charts 1:100,000, 1:250,000, 1:1,000,000, and large scale plans of major ports, thus ensuring the availability of the most commonly used charts. Recently the production was also launched of a chart portfolio for yachting 1:100,000, together with the relevant pilot books.