Rural and industrial archaelogy

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Rural and industrial archaelogy

Many are the vestiges witnessing the ancient world of work: old “cascine” (country houses), mills, factories, workers’ villages, power stations, museums containing working objects and tools, they all deserve a visit to appreciate with the same amazement we pay to the most renowned and celebrated masterpieces of our artistic heritage, because they are  a clear evidence of the complex history and morphology of this territory. The farmhouse architecture is still very present in our landscape. You will easily run into cascine, courtyards and farmhouses, of breathtaking majesty, such as the Cascina Superba also called “Faretta” in Fara Olivana or the Cascina Ravaiola in Arzago, often modified according to the time’s needs, but still offering a key to interpret the evolution of the territory. Several initiatives of collection of antique objects from farmers’ life and work were started in the middle 60s, probably due to a sudden process of transformation of the area and the need to preserve a culture. In fact, then the countryside started receding while industry and urban spaces were taking over. Secular elements of the agricultural landscape, such as the lines of mulberry trees (called “murù” by local people), were disappearing, mills and cascine were being abandoned, and so were tools, words and signs of the old times.  In the area along the Adda river, the transformation from home industry to the capitalist industry happened very quickly and ahead of times due to the availability of resources:  power sources, woods and rivers. North of the Adda river, processing factories and cotton industry plants, obviously requiring a lot of power, were built.

The Adda, a turbulent river that Leonardo da Vinci had already known in his time, allowed the building of several power stations on its shores between late 1800 and early 1900: Bertini, Esterle, Taccani, Crespi, Rusca etc. These power plants still amaze the visitors with their beautiful design and architecture: the main example is the Taccani power plant, in Renaissance style with Liberty wrought iron ornaments. The plant was designed by eng. Moretti, taking into account the ancient monumental architecture mixed with modern motifs, but caring every detail so as not to spoil the wonderful environmental and historical context of the area.  The plants include innovative turbine systems ( Riva Monneret & C. from Milan) of beautiful design. The turbines installed in the Bertini plant were second only to those of the Niagara falls. Walking beside the shore, you will see the plumbing structures built to exploit the river’s flow. In Trezzo, on the opposite shore, you can visit the factory and workers’ village of Crespi D'Adda, part of the Unesco World heritage since 1995, the ultimate monument of industrial archaeology; a must-see to fully dive into the atmosphere of the industrial revolution in Italy.