Industrial archaeology in the Bolognese lowlands

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The lowlands of Bologna have long been closely associated with industry, particularly the silk one, which was a leading sector of the local economy between the 15th and 18th centuries. 

This itinerary explores some of the most significant manufacturing sites in the area, focusing on the importance of water as a necessary component for the growth of the region's thriving economy.

  • Length
    48 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - Chiusa di Casalecchio di Reno Casalecchio di Reno

    Our itinerary begins at the Casalecchio di Reno sluice, the oldest waterworks still in use in Europe. 

    This artificial barrage built in the Middle Ages along the Reno River's path supplied the hydraulic energy required to power mills, wheels for spinning silk, and other diverse industrial activities. Previously, they fed the Reno Canal as well. 

    2010 saw UNESCO add the Casalecchio di Reno sluice to its list of Heritage Messengers Programme, honouring it as a representation of a peaceful culture that benefits youth. At present, organised tours and appointments are required to access the sluice.  

  • Second stop - Ex Filanda – Casa della Pace Casalecchio di Reno Casalecchio di Reno

    Our next destination is the Ex Filanda, a former spinning mill that was one of the biggest industrial facilities in Italy when it was constructed in the middle of the 19th century. 

    Originally, the factory was dependent on the hydraulic force supplied by the Reno River, but the steam engine helped it become autonomous at the start of the 20th century. 

    Today, the facility houses a hydroelectric power plant in operation since 2014, a museum area and the headquarters of Casa della Pace 'La Filanda', a non-profit organisation that works to raise awareness of several topics, including peace, non-violence, and social solidarity. 

  • Third stop - The Navile Canal and the support of Castel Maggiore Castel Maggiore

    We then move on to the Navile Canal, which served as the area’s main waterway from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 20th century. 

    Once connecting Bologna to the Po Valley, the 10-kilometer canal was mostly used for the transportation of goods, particularly silk. At the end of the 15th century, work began on building supports: in 1497 a support was built close to Castel Maggiore, and its remnants can still be seen today. 

    Today, along the Navile cycle path that runs along the canal, you can admire the ruins of paper mills, wash houses, bridges, old farm buildings and a hydroelectric power station dating back to 1901.

  • Fourth stop - The Mill of Bentivoglio Bentivoglio

    The fourth stop on our tour is the Pizzardi Mill in Bentivoglio, with its long and fascinating history. 

    Built in 1352 by Guido Lambertini, the owner of the Bentivoglio territory at the time, during the 15th century the mill passed under the ownership of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, lord of Bologna, and was finally acquired by the Pizzardi family in 1817. 

    The mill was in continuous operation for almost 600 years before it was finally closed in the 1970s, following a brief term of leasing. 
    The mill has only recently reopened and can now be visited through guided tours that allow visitors to admire the historic machinery of this nearly intact example of industrial archaeology. 

  • Fifth stop - The Water Towers of Budrio Budrio

    The Water Towers in Budrio mark the end of our tour. This historic aqueduct was built in 1912 and underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2009, following the municipality of Budrio’s victory in the Centocittà Award competition. 

    Thanks to this renovation, this landmark of industrial archaeology is now a multipurpose centre with areas dedicated to reading, music, art and town events. 

Last update 04/12/2023

Information offices

Semplice - Sportello Polifunzionale per il cittadino di Casalecchio di Reno
Via dei Mille, 9 - Casalecchio di Reno (BO)
+ 39 051 598111
Ufficio Relazioni con il pubblico di Castel Maggiore
Piazza della Pace - Castel Maggiore (BO)
+ 39 051 6386874

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