This page is a supplement to:"The 8 Trail of Avigliana lakes."
And is dedicated to all those who want to combine a beautiful Trail in Mb with a visit to what was, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the largest factory in the world for the production of explosives: The Nobel Dynamite Factory "of Avigliana (Turin).
It now houses a splendid historical museum that combines a complete tour of the Nobel factory vestige with sounds and video images of a place that gave work to hundreds of people from the lower Susa Valley but that resulted in countless victims in the course of its sixty years of activity.
NOBEL manifacturing company of DynamiteThe monumental reamains of the most important explosives factory in the world in the '40s are East of the Mareschi March (Avigliana-Turin-Piedmont).
The main reason of such a dislocation was certainly the presence of hills wich could protect the build-up area against the effects of the explosions that could be caused by this dangerous activity.
The complex, wich is one of the most interexting examples of industrial architecture of the beginning of the last century, was one of the first factories in Avigliana.
At that time it was called :" Joint-Stock Company for the manifacturing of dynamite, patent Nobel".
The building of the factory was starded by a group of five parisian bankers and by the Alfred Nobel Company by Hamburg and it was ended in 1873. Furthermore, in 1908, the Nobel company bought from Cravotto family other pieces of land in region "Allemandi" to estabilish other factoryes for the production of new kind of explosives.
In 1925, from the small department of the "first-born" planr Valloya, by the patent of the American Dupont, the paint factory Duco got underway. Later this factory was adsorbed by the Montecatini Society.
During the latest World War the area was bombed and subject to the Nazis occupation and after to resistance fighting. The following crisis of the military commissions and the varied displacing needs caused the progressive decay of the industrial complex wich stopped its production in the 1960.
In the Nobel dynamite factory, also worked on the chemical Primo Michele Levi (Turin, July 31, 1919 - Turin, 11 April 1987) after his return to Italy after the long and terrible imprisonment in the concentration camp of Auschwitz.
Primo Levi was the author of wonderful books, His best-known works include: "If This Is a Man" (1947) (U.S.: Survival in Auschwitz) and "The Truce", His account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and the subsequent release with the long and difficult journey to return to Italy.
Since his book has been converted into a popular movie starring John Turturro.
Recently several new activities, grouped togheter into a Development Integrated Centre, have built themselves up, giving rise to a modern and dynamic industrial area.
In the Susa Valley, at the end of the nineteenth century, there was an exellent communication network, wich consist of the road that Napoleon built between Turin and France (1809), the Turin-Susa railway line (1856), and the Frejus tunnel on the Turin-Paris railway line (1871).
Since the Dora river was close by, it was possible to have a supply of water and electric energy. The water of the river was conveyed to the plants through an artificial channel, and the motive power was provided by a hydroelectric plant belonging to the company. The hill where the dynamite factory rose is composed of serpentine rocks of glacial origin, wich are particularly suited for digging connection tunnels.
Finally there was available manpower from the near villages and country.
The plant will produce:
In a few hours work per day the dynamite factory produces 3000 Kg. of nitro-glycerin, wich is immediately mixed and trasformed in 70.000 gelatine cartrydges and dynamites.
The dynamite factory did not have a workers vaillage with houses and facilities (school, kindergarden, church etc). The director's, assistant director's and the guards families were the only ones to live in the plants, in detached houses. During the first decade of the plant operation, a small group of soldiers, quartred in small barracks, guarded the works. The workrs still live in the villages of origin, mainly Avilgiana, Buttigliera and Saint Ambrogio and worked also as farmers.
The Nobel Company just sponsored or reformed the charity and cultural istitutions already existing in the nearby villages: workers society, hospital and kindergartens.
The horrific accidents.
While the dynamite factory was operative the work with dangerous material led to a series of accidents, 31 in all,which caused over 100 deaths and an ever greater number of injuries. The most serious accident took place in january 1900, when, in a way wich was never clearly estabilished, the mixing laboratory exploded, setting of five dynamite deposits.
The rumble of the explosion was heard up to a distance of 30 Km. away.
Avigliana, protected by the hills, got off lightly (windows were broken and the railway roof fell in), following the displacement of air created by 10.000 Kg. of nitro-clycerine exploding.
The event greatly upset public opinion, particularly among the inhabitants of the town of Sant Ambrogio, who applied to the prefecture of Susa for the closure of the factory.
The town council of Avigliana blocked this request.
Between 1943 and 1945, the Nobel dynamite factory areas suffered repeatedly from incursions of the British and the Americans Airforce.
The factory was under the control of the Nazi-fascist, and even working at a slow pace, was a strategic target to hit.
At that time the whole area suffered ten raids and bombings.
The R.A.F snapped some beautiful aerial photographs of the target.
During the German retreat from the valley of Susa, the German commander had received orders to blow up the entire system of Avigliana, including a tremendous amount of weapons and explosives.
Fortunately, the German officer who directed the destruction, he just set fire to a large quantity of paper accumulated in the archives (all smoke and no fire), and went away with his soldiers!
Ascanio Sobrero & Alfred Nobel(physician and chemist) published the results of the work that had led to the creation of nitro-glycerine in the "memoirs of the Academy of Sciences in 1847".
In the following years he began the industrial production and the use of nitro-glycerine as an explosive, hindered and made dangerous by its extreme instability.
It should be noted that Sobrero never thought to patent his invention, even when, even when he began to become a product of a certain commercial interest, showing his disinterest with the facts of pure scientist, oriented to work for the sake of knowledge and to put his inventions available to all.
His interest focused mainly on the vasodilator activity of nitroglycerin and its use as a cardiotonic nThe attacks of angina pectoris.
In 1867, Alfred Nobel, who has been industrially produced nitro-glycerine, he was able to make it more stable mixing it with inert dusts, such as diatomaceous earth.
In the following years, he began to sell the product under the trade name of Dynamite, other explosives later prepared a nitroglycerin and created an international network of factories for the production of explosives obtaining a huge financial fortune.
In those decades Sobrero had to vigorously defend the paternity of his invention (nitroglycerin) by foreign unscrupulous schientist that they attributed to themselves the merit.
In honor of Alfred Nobel must say that he repeatedly and publicly recognized the merit of Sobrero for the discovery and the debt of gratitude that Nobel had against him.
It was the opening of the factory of Avignon that allowed the two scientists to meet.
Alfred Nobel requested the collaboration of Sobrero who was hired as a consultant with a salary of 5000 Lire per year.
In the entrance of the building was also placed a marble bust of the Italian scientist.
Via Galiniè 38
10051 Avigliana (Turin)
N 45.08790 ° E 7.38561 °
How to get there
Following the SS. 25 (coming from Turin) just after the town of Avignon overcome the railway bridge and at the traffic lights turn left into the industrial estate.
At the first roundabout turn left (follow it for its three-quarters) at the next roundabout turn right (go on for a quarter) and then immediately left.
Opening hours and pricesWinter hours: October to April
Mon - Fri: 10:00 to 12:00, 14:00 to 18:00
Sat and Sun: 14:00 to 18:00
Last admission: 17.00
Summer Hours: May to September
Mon - Fri: 10:00 to 12:00, 14:00 to 19:00
Sat and Sun: 10:30 to 19:00
Last admission: 18.00
Closures annual festivities
From 24 December to 31 January, 25 April, 15 August, 1 November.
In the event of adverse weather conditions may be subject to the Living Museum closures or variations of schedule.
Special openings and evening
By appointment or during special events.
In the summer months openings are provided extraordinary evening.
Booking service and guided tours
Reservations are required for guided tours for groups and schools. Tel 0119327447
minor 12 years, groups over 10 people, disabled
Reduced admission Schools
schools by booking over 10 people
More 70; Minor 6; Holders Subscription Musei Torino Piemonte Torino and Piemonte Card