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explosives factory / Aulla / 1916 - 1996 / 2007, 2010 / MONTECATINI SGEM Taino


Due to its strategic location between the middle Po Plain and the Ligurian sea, the Lunigiana valley used to be a favorite site for explosives manufacturing and military storage activities since the 17th century. A milestone in modern explosives industry is represented by the powder factory of Pallerone, founded in 1916 by Società Italiana Esplosivi e Munizioni. Precisely, the purpose of this site was to manufacture solenite, a smokeless gunpowder composed by 61% nitrocellulose, 36% nitroglycerin and 3% mineral oil. Despite being ready in early 1918, the factory never went in operation as the war ceased and the need of explosives quickly decreased. After a storage-only period, the factory was restarted in 1924. Ten years later it became part of SGEM-Società Generale Esplosivi e Munizioni, a company founded by Montecatini group and supported by the fascist government, which aimed to concentrate national strategic assets in matter of explosives and ordnance manufacturing. During the wartime the plant employed more than 1400 people. Between september 1943 and april 1945 it was occupied by German forces. The factory escaped without damages from the conflict thanks to the petty officer of the Wehrmacht Josef Schiffer, who did not execute the order to destroy the whole site before the withdrawal.



In 1955 the powder factory was sold to BPD, a Rome-based company specialized in ordnance manufacturing, which developed here the production of special powders for military purposes. Twenty years later the site was demilitarized and acquired by SNIA Viscosa group. Main activities of this period concerned rocket assembling and howitzer charge. In late 1980s SNIA and Oto-Melara created a joint-venture to set up "Milan" guided missiles manufacturing but results were pretty unsuccessful. The almost inactive plant was then closed in 1996. Unfortunately, much of the site has been recently demolished, leaving nothing but the power station and a few administration buildings (protected by the Regional Board of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation).