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Home » Podcast » Crespi d'Adda village: history, how to get there and what to see. Let the podcast tell you about it E-VAI!

The Village of Crespi d'Adda is certainly the most important testimony in Italy to the phenomenon of workers' villages: it constituted one of the most complete and original creations in the world and has been preserved perfectly intact - keeping its urban and architectural aspect almost intact. Crespi d'Adda is an authentic model of an ideal city; a very interesting, almost perfect, self-sufficient microcosm where the lives of the employees, together with those of their families and the entire community, revolved - in an ideal plan of order and harmony - around the factory; a garden city on a human scale, on the border between the rural world and the industrial world.

Do you want to hear about it and have a laugh with the adventures of Alfonso and Emanuela's friendly family? Listen to the episode on the podcast E-VAI!

Crespi d'Adda village: how to get there

How to get there, with E-VAI, it's very easy: just rent a car E-VAI in one of the over 150 stations in Lombardy, the electric charging will be complete and included in the price.

Once you jump aboard E-VAI, from the A4 Turin-Trieste motorway, take the Capriate San Gervasio exit in the province of Bergamo. After passing the motorway toll booth, you come across a roundabout and you must take the third exit. Immediately afterwards you arrive at another roundabout where you take the first exit on the right with signs for Trezzo sull'Adda and Milan. You reach a traffic light: turn left onto via Crespi. Continuing along a descent with the indication of the start of Crespi d'Adda.

Crespi d'Adda village: history of the Crespi brothers

The architect of this village was two brothers, entrepreneurial geniuses, Cristoforo and Benigno Crespi: their initial idea was to find the ideal place to create a textile factory capable of producing the best cotton in the entire world.

The spark came in the mid-800th century, when Christopher went to Manchester, where he saw the first factory-cities, in which workers livedevano and they worked in the same place: small towns dedicated entirely to work as an integral part of life.

With decidedly clearer ideas, Cristoforo returned to Italy with the intention of replicating the model, while offering a dignified, peaceful and serene life for the people who every day, for many years, exchanged the 8 hours around which it revolved for money. their day.

The first step was to build the factory, making the 85 hectares of the municipalities of Capriate San Gervasio and Canonica D'adda its own and delegating the architectural construction to Ernesto Pirovano and Pietro Brunati.

The earth was there, but two other elements were missing, which would have been able to close the fire triangle and start the combustion: a watercourse and manpower.

For the first there were no major problems: the land was gently resting on the left bank of the Adda, essential for the generation of hydromechanical energy, first, and then hydroelectric, to make the factory work. At the same time, in the immediate vicinity, another very important waterway, the Martesana canal, proved essential as a means of moving the goods leaving the factory.

If the waterways were available, it was not so easy to find the right workers.

Cristoforo promised people more comfortable living conditions, an adequate salary and services that were decidedly more competitive than all the other businesses in the area.

Create a workers' village where families canevano to live close to their loved ones who, every day, went to the factory which was a few tens of meters away from their home.

Thus was born a complete, self-contained and almost self-sufficient model in which the worker is able to find anything to lead a normal life without being forced to leave the boundaries created ad hoc by Cristoforo Crespi: houses, churches, schools, cemetery, hospital, trattorias, shops... there was everything a person from the early and mid-900th century could ever ask for.

The idea was born in Christopher's head in 1876, grew until 1920, when the village took on its definitive form, but remained operational at full capacity only until 1929. 50 years in which history was made, but which failed to gain a lot of traction to defend itself both from the strength of the Lira, which did not help exports to foreign customers, and obviously from the famous 1929, a disastrous year for the economy of the whole world.

The work continued with great difficulties, but in 1952 the company was placed under controlled administration. In the following 20 years, an alternation of owners began who, however, failed to achieve the success they deserved: over the years the Rossari and Varzi factories followed one another, the Legler family with their Denim production and finally, in 1989 the company ended to the Polli Group.

In 1995 the village was ideologically detached from its productive hemisphere, it became a UNESCO heritage site and in 2003 the factory finally closed its doors, no longer being able to provide work to anyone. Useless for the economy, but instead useful for tourism and as a historical testimony, as an example of Italian ingenuity, hosting many visitors every year.

Crespi d'Adda village: the “palasocc”

At the entrance to the village there are 3 buildings, “palasocc” in dialect, which mark the entry point.
These large barracks, of different floors, square and without the slightest soul, avevanot an objective of efficiency and effectiveness. Initially their task was to host workers with a lot of experience, who however would have to teach the work to the farmers who had recently accepted industrial life.
Cristoforo realized that the system of building large, multi-storey houses capable of containing ten to twenty families was a mistake.

So he thought that individual houses could give greater tranquility and above all rest to the workers, who were due the next dayevano going back to the factory.

Crespi d'Adda village: hotel, after-work club, church

Once past the buildings, turning the corner, you see a hotel on the left, which was built to accommodate all the suppliers and large customers who went to the village to visit the factory and make new commercial agreements.

To keep the hotel company, there was the "after work" club. A building that hadeva the task of helping people in sewing bonds between all the hard-working families of the village trying to stimulate a collective life in harmony. The headquarters of the club was a real tourist office, which was responsible for organizing leisure activities, including cultural moments, sports days and much more.

This 3-storey building represented a real meeting place to pass the time: it transformed the individual families of the workers into a real community of people who couldevanot find a full and lively social life.

The church was built in the image and likeness starting from the memories and origins of the Crespi family, originally from Busto Arsizio, in whose main square the beautiful church of Santa Maria stands out. The construction of the village church was an idea of ​​Pia Travelli, wife of Cristoforo Crespi.

Crespi d'Adda village: doctor's and parish priest's house

Turning your back on the church, two imposing buildings stand out: the homes of the parish doctor, one next to the other. They were the two "super partes" figures, with the task of ensuring the physical health of the entire community and maintaining a spiritual approach to life.
The private gardens of these two villas unfolded from the hill which allowedevano to the doctor and the doctor to go quickly to the center of the village in case of emergencies, a connection that is both physical and ideological.

The chaplain had a fundamental function, that is, he represented the spiritual guide for the workers of Crespi d'Adda, acting as a social glue capable of maintaining a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
On the other side of the hill the doctor did not arrive at that timeeva not an easy life at all, the average health and hygiene conditions were decidedly low in that period.

From a small endless bridge, you can see the view of the entire village. Descending the hill, we begin the journey that leads around the houses that allowed the workers to live there for decades in close contact with the workplace.

Crespi d'Adda village: common housing

All "common" homes, i.e. those in which I liveevano the workers, they were built along the lines of semi-detached houses, with one family on the ground floor and the other on the first floor. The assignment of houses almost always took place at the time of hiring and adveva a duration contextual to the working relationship with the factory.
Having a house, however, did not represent a guaranteed luxury, nor even a free one: a monthly fee was deducted from each worker's salary, which also served to pay for the external maintenance of the house and common areas.

All the houses appear totally the same on the outside, but in reality on the inside each house was totally separate, unique, to make people feel at ease, according to their needs.

Crespi d'Adda village: foremen's houses and managers

At the end of the complex of common houses, there are the villas of the department heads: decidedly larger villas, embellished with valuable architectural elements and built with the aim of allowing up to 3 families to live.

In total, there are 4 department heads' homes, they frame a relaxing tree-lined garden, a triumvirate where you can meet among the elite families.

About 40 meters from the workers' and department managers' villas, there are 9 splendid executive villas.

The manager's gigantic office was located in the classic company buildings, with kilometer-long aquariums and golf courses.

These single-family detached villas were so large that they could accommodate, in some cases, butlers and service staff.

Terraces with hanging gardens, verandas and wonderful tree-lined gardens, climbing plants and beautiful benches where you can spend Sunday afternoons having fun and relaxing.

Crespi d'Adda village: factory

The beating heart around which all the arteries were then built is the Crespi d'Adda factory, born from the brilliant mind of Cristoforo and Benigno Crespi in 1876, and remained in operation, more or less, until 2003. It came to provide jobs up to 4.000 total employees supporting approximately 10.000 people.

Ernesto Pirovano and Gaetano Moretti, broad-minded architects, were commissioned to create this work of art which was supposed to give life to the entrepreneurial perspective of the Crespi family.
In the center stands a large chimney. At the base of the chimney, a clock was placed, for many the true symbol of the industrial revolution: an artifice capable of connoting and marking time for people.

The clock has been stopped for years now, and marks a very specific time, namely 16pm, the time in which, for the last time, the factory gates closed.

The factory, located to the south, covers a large part of the entire village, and is spread over a single floor, to facilitate the movement of goods and people inside.

Crespi d'Adda village: hydroelectric power plant

At the beginning the factory was totally managed by the hydromechanical power plant. But if at the beginning it couldeva enough, after a short time, given the growth of the village and the numerous annexations to the original production plant, in 1909, a new hydroelectric power plant was added to it capable of satisfying the new energy needs. Its Liberty style, the parquet still present today in its original form together with the turbine head and the control panel, make it a jewel that time has not been able to take.

After falling into disuse in 2009, therefore 6 years after the closure in 2003, it is only thanks to the Adda Energi company that it has survived with its great splendor.

Crespi d'Adda village: villa Crespi

On the same embankment of the hydroelectric power plant, going up the river, you come across a fairy-tale, magical place, steeped in history and austerity.

It is a real castle, with a beautiful tower and several turrets, spiers, battlements, loggias and walks on the walls, all in full neo-medieval style.evale, with exposed red bricks.

Numerous coats of arms and friezes are there to give the idea of ​​wealth and power, the interior is made up of 44 rooms and three balconies that overlook the atrium. Rooms which, in addition to the family, also housed cooks, servants, maids, coachmen, wet nurses and a doorman.

As soon as you enter you find yourself in a gigantic 100 square meter atrium which allows you to see all 3 floors of the villa. The blue living room, the white living room, the master study, the green living room with a large fireplace, the red room with an enchanting glass door overlooking the garden, a dining room and a room dedicated to the game of billiards, a classic pastime of the time.

On the second floor there were all the rooms and master bedrooms, connected to the ground floor with a staircase as unforgettable as it was scary, made entirely of Italian marble. The third floor culminates with a glass room that was located at the top of the main tower.

Crespi d'Adda village: cemetery

The end of the village route corresponds with the internal cemetery, created to be available to the workers, their families and, obviously, the Crespi family.

To get there, just follow the tree-lined avenue that culminates in a rectangular-shaped lawn in which a pyramid stands out, which consists of the funerary monument created for the Crespi family, which dominates and watches over all the people who gave their lives for the factory .

At the foot of the monument the memorial stones are arranged in orderly lines and all on the same level, to remember equality both in life and in death. But this solution was intended only for deceased people who were buried and whose costs were supported by the Crespi family, for all the others however, there were spaces set aside along the perimeter.

And it is precisely these engravings that restart Crespi d'Adda's journey and make it an upward spiral, because what for many is the end of the journey is now reinvigorated by bringing to mind all the lives of the people who walked on the roads of the village and who still have much to remember and to keep in memory for and with the community. All the carvings in the cemetery help to mentally retrace the history of the village, giving new life and new life to this architectural and social work that characterized Italian entrepreneurial history.

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