One of things I learned from my years of living in ‘Little Italy’ in Toronto, along with my foraging for all things Legnano on eBay.it, is that Italians don’t throw things out. In fact it sometimes seems as though they keep absolutely everything on the off chance that someday, well it may just be of use, not to mention value if the right person comes along. That perspective may be a little exaggerated but it is in contrast to North Americans that ‘love to shop’ and may be equally adept at ‘throwing away’ if the landfill sites are any measure.
With the demise of Legnano in the 80’s, my first thought was that the old factory had been demolished for a housing development given the land values in Milan and an ever-growing population. However, the aforementioned insight made me think again and so I jumped on Google maps to check out the list of Legnano address that are listed on the back of the brochures and catalogues in my collection. And sure enough, the Legnano factory at 1 Piazza Emilio Bozzi is still standing and occupied today by Duplomatic Automation S.R.C., a producer of high end precision machine tools. Although it seems the Piazza E.B. gave way to an intersection at some point in time.
To get oriented, here is a photo of the Legnano factory from the back of a 1960’s product brochure. As you can see it is a sizeable factory and from a rough scaling of an arial view I would estimate to be about 200,000 square feet or 20,000 square meters in size. The water tower is also a nice piece of industrial architecture that must have an architect’s name behind it.
And here are a few pictures courtesy of Google that show the front of the factory as it is today.
And also the arial view of the former Legnano factory.
From the brochure photo and the arial view above you can see the vaulted style of the factory roof compared to the more modern flat roof construction of the adjacent buildings. This reflected the limited ‘open span’ of construction technology at the time. I have to dig through my files for some additional photography however this factory is much older than it appears in the brochure photo and I suspect that the facade of the factory was given a face lift in the early 60’s along with the construction of the office building immediately in front of the plant along with the water tower that faces the road.
Update (21 Nov 16)
Thanks to a reader, Giuseppe Scaglia of Italy, he advised that the Legnano production was first undertaken in the original Woolsit factory of Franco Tosi that was located at Via XX Settembre in Legnano as of 1906. A picture of this first Woolsit-Legnano factory is shown below. In or about 1962 production moved to the new Legnano factory located at 1 Piazza Emilio Bozzi that is described and pictured above. I am not sure what became of the old factory however from a look at Google Earth it appears as though it is no longer there as the area is primarily residential today.
In addition, here is a current day photo below of 9 Corso Genova, the longstanding head office for Emilio Bozzi SpA. On the street level there is now a shop selling designer eye wear.
The other address in Milano which appear on numerous Legnano catalogs and sales sheets, often under the heading ‘Sede’ (legal seat), is 8 Via Cicco Simonetta. Here is a pic of that address today, now a fish merchant.
Before we conclude this post, at least for the time being, below is a photo (c.1903) of the statue of the Lombard warrior, Alberto da Guissano that stands in the center of Legnano and was inaugurated in 1900. Emilio Bozzi would later adopt this heroic figure as the symbol to define the Legnano brand.
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