A few years ago a beautiful cycling path that goes up Valle Seriana was opened. Initially limited to Cene, it was later extended and now arrives as far as Clusone, the most important town of the valley.
The late 1800’s saw the inauguration of a railway that connected
At least, part of the old track has been converted into a pleasant cycling path that starts in Ranica at about
The urban sprawl has been uninterrupted since the 1960’s. In the last decades more and more people have chosen to settle out of town, willing to take on the burden of commuting in exchange for more space, and maybe a small garden, at lower costs. But during my bike ride I could see that the history of modern settlements in this valley dated back to a century earlier.
In fact, the landmark that struck me most were the ancient brick chimneys that mark the spot of old industrial sites. The Seriana Valley, which could rely on the train connection between Bergamo and Milan since 1857, and later on its own railway from 1884, met the basic requirement for the establishment of a profitable textile industry: good trasport facilities. These were not just by train but also by road, if you think that the second motorway to be built in Italy was from Bergamo to Milan, in 1927. Besides, the availablily of cheap labour and hydromechanic or hydroelectric energy were other determining factors.
When we say globalisation is a phenomenon of the present, we should not forget that the economy has hardly ever known any boundaries. The investors who came to
The boom of the textile industry was indeed fostered by a second migratory wave formed by investors who set up cotton mills and were responsible for the industrial development in a land of hard-working people. Silk was also an important cash crop and entire families of peasants eked out their income by breeding the worms and selling the cocoons to the spinning mills. After a period of crisis in the 1850’s due to an epidemic of the silkworm, production recovered and thrived up to the 1930’s. Italian silk contributed with a conspicuous share to world production, competing with
All this history is still to be seen in Val Seriana, but the last decades have turned a page on the textile past of the valley. If production moved here 150 year ago, now it has forsaken the valley, indeed the Old Continent. First it was the spinning mills, then the weaving mills and finally even the making of garments that had to shut down in the face of harsh competition. Only high quality production have resisted.
The cycling path skirts historic industrial sheds and passes in sight of the ageing brick chimneys, interesting evidence of a finished era.