Wool and silk
Little Manchester

S.i.p.e. architecture in Bormida Valley

An itinerary designed to introduce and admire the industrial archaeology buildings of S.i.p.e., which stands for Società Italiana Prodotti Esplodenti, built between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in the historic production area of Bormida Valley, in the province of Savona.

Chemical factories, workers’ villages, company after-work centres, now abandoned or reused for other purposes, which have retained all their value and the construction accuracy that characterised the artefacts of the time.


  • Municipality of Cengio
  • Pràsottano
  • Ferrania

The itinerary winds its way through the municipality of Cengio and the hamlet of Ferrania (in the province of Savona), where the buildings were built, divided into workers’ village, former factories and after-work clubs.

The route takes about 4 hours: the buildings will be observed by means of a guided walking tour and long-distance journeys will be made by own means.

The route starts in Cengio and ends in Ferrania.

Maximum number of people per day: 30

The itinerary unfolds in 4 stages starting from the municipality of Cengio and ending in the hamlet of Ferrania. The route illustrates the history and analyses the buildings and architectural style, accompanied by architects, historians and archivists.

The tour begins in Cengio, where S.I.P.E., an acronym for Società italiana Prodotti Esplodenti (Italian Explosive Products Company), was established in 1906, arriving in Val Bormida from Milan with the aim of creating tritol.

The plant produced large quantities and needed to expand, so the hamlet of Ferrania in nearby Cairo Montenotte was chosen as the ideal location.

S.I.P.E. became not only a factory, but also a place for architectural experimentation, thanks to the visionary Cesare Mazzocchi, who brought European avant-garde styles and forms to the valley, revisited in a functional key. This is how, in addition to the factories, the spaces so dear to Italian industrial paternalism at the beginning of the 20th century were created, such as the after-work club, the workers’ village and related services, creating two of the most representative and best preserved company towns in Liguria.

In this sequence we will see the workers’ village, the after-work club and the buildings in Cengio, the factory and the workers’ village in Prasottano and Ferrania, and finally the power station.

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