OVER 100 YEARS OF INDUSTRIAL HISTORY
In order to fully understand the value of this place, besides the building heritage, it is important to take a step backwards and tell about its history.
The first news about a clay pit and ceramic and clay-brick production date back to the last decades of the XIX century.
But it is thanks to Carlo Vaccari, who arrived in Ponzano in the early XX century, and his intuitions that the factory began to achieve national and global success with a business network distributing our ceramics in every continent: from Oceania to South America.
Thanks to this extraordinary success, mostly due to our incredibly performing products, in the early 50′s Vaccari became the first ceramic factory in Europe.
The mosaics coming from the Ponzano’s furnace became typical and famous and our bricks’ and tiles’ hardness and resistance became proverbial.
This Ligurian excellence represented the hotbed of futurist art and at the same time an industrial stronghold providing jobs for thousands of people.
It was so important that it transformed the very urban fabric of the Municipality, turning a rural area into a real “industrial village”, with the big country house, the workmen’s and the supervisors’ accommodations and several facilities such as nursery school and grocery. It even changed its name: by then everyone was calling (and still does today) Ponzano “la Ceramica”.
It was a real revolution at that time for our land.
Unfortunately the success of the mining sector in Emilia Romagna led to a gradual de-escalation already in the early 70′s, followed by a progressive decrease in employment.
In fact in the last years of activity, the thousands of workers that once crowded the extended area were nothing but a memory: approximately half of the total surface was actually exploited by then, mostly for warehousing. The workers were only a few hundreds, including the satellite activities.
The fatal crises arrives in spring 2006, year in which the factory closes down.
What has happened since then.
With the support and the help of the Province of La Spezia and ARPAL, we started the environmental characterisation procedures and afterwards the intervention, followed and financed by the Austrian property Lasselbergers, that after some resistance removed pieces of land contaminated by hydrocarbons at its expenses.
As far as the Italian property is concerned, all characterisation and reclamation procedures were made and are completed.
Since then the Municipality, together with the Archive Heritage Superintendence, has collected most of the hardcopy archives of historical interest and most of the old tools still abandoned inside the plant. This allowed us to obtain important financing and therefore to purchase an important warehouse that will house all the historical materials we preserved.
After purchasing the above-mentioned building and obtaining a management agreement on a 13,000 square metres area, the municipal administration is now willing not only to continue the project already started by publicizing the factory but also to move forward.
If until yesterday the environmental issue was unavoidable and it was necessary to find external financing, today the time has come to open the debate on the future of this incredible location.