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Mills and Pasta factories in Umbria

The milling activity is part of the history of Umbria: firstly it was a bridge between agriculture and industry, then an essential component of the food industry, with big economic, social and landscape importance.

From the Middle Age to most of the 19th century, the milling sector of Umbria was based on rural watermills to grind wheat. The spread of the roller mill, which permitted to make very fine and clear flours through continuous breaks of the corn, was slower than elsewhere. Between 1870 and 1880, plants scattered in the entire region were still the majority and in each one of them at the best two people worked. They were craft structures that served local clients, but they also produced for the regional and extra regional markets. The mills of Umbria were characterized by the plurality of sources of energy used and for the coexistence of watermills and roller mills.

Moreover in 1889 in Umbria appeared the first pasta factories, whose production is strictly linked with the milling activity.

In Umbria, the first part of the 20th century was very positive for the sector: there was a simultaneous increase of the profitability of agriculture, thanks to the introduction of fodder factories; the supply of wheat and the financial resources to invest in innovation.

In the following years, the agricultural crisis caused the decay of many craft and rural mills and it limited the growth of the cooperative mills. Milling became a component of the food industry, increasingly bound up with the production of flours firstly used for pasta then for fodder. The expansion of the markets brought about the necessity to increase the production capacity: the factories expanded, often going into business with national and international companies. It often brought to the delocalization of production, with the consequent abandonment of the Umbrian plants.

This itinerary proposes two important examples of the industrial development of the milling sector in Umbria: both of these plants are open to visit but only one is still active.

The Pastificio Petrini-Spigadoro in Bastia Umbra has been central for the industrial and city development and is still recognizable. It started in 1822 as a watermill, later on electrically powered. In 1924, it started producing also pasta “Spigadoro” and, in 1955, fodder. In the ‘60s the plant was expanded with new silos, pavilions and an imposing fodder factory: its turret became the symbol of Bastia Umbria. At the end of the ‘90s the pasta factories was closed and all the activities were transferred to the plant in Foligno. Today it produces flours.

The Molini & Pastificio Cappelletti is located near the train station Ponterio in Todi. From a small watermill it has become an industrial plant joined by a pasta factory in 1934. At the end of the ‘40s another mill started to work, increasing the production capacity considerably. The factory produced flours for the biggest pasta factory of central Italy (and more) until its closing in 1960.