Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Italian Urbex Road Trip, June 2015.

Italia - June 2015.

This getaway was engineered around being our very good friend Cregg’s Euro Stag do, but instead of the Borat-esque green man thongs, gimp suits and gas masks (found usually on European explorations and UK stag do’s) we opted for a normal, pleasant, 2500km jaunt around the Italian countryside exploring many fantastic Industrial abandonments.

I’ve been adding bits and bobs to an Italian map for about 2 years in anticipation of a time when we’d be able get over and this June, we finally did.

Arriving in Pisa we picked up a disappointingly poor Opel Mokka and commenced its thrashing with a blast southwards along the western Industrial coast towards Rome. The Italians have some pretty good Autostradas, that cost an arm and a leg to drive down, however, their ‘free’ motorways are pitted and potholed to buggery.

A few kilometres later, we rolled up to this massive ex-sugar refinery. Slap bang in the middle of a little coastal town, it wasn’t bad and hosted the first of many turbine halls that we visited on this trip. A pretty fine way to start off the weekend and also the first encounter with the incredibly savage undergrowth, brambles and general spiky plants that Italy seems to cultivate, very well.

Carrying on further down the coast, we swiftly checked out an enormous ex-chemical plant that had a few details, a train and some brilliant timber structures holding up the large factory floors.

Heading yet further South I’d been given a lead to follow and with a tiny snippet of information we arrived at what looked like a 50 foot high patch of bamboo, brambles with ‘trunks’, nettles, giant hogweed and all manner of spiky fuckers with a small 100 year old hydro electric power plant sticking out of the top. Also loads of cats.

After an hour of hacking and being thoroughly lacerated we were inside this tiny building, and what an absolute stunner.

Towards sundown our journey took us inland where as usual we shunned the ‘pro-hobo’ bollocks and opted for a hostel who provided us with a chilled bottle of red wine and pasta.

Next day was another hydroelectric power plant, this time providing a little more juice than the last and a turbine that looked like a snail - bonus.

Followed by another power plant turbine hall furnished with turbines manufactured by the Italian wing of Brown Boveri, named ‘Tecnomasio Italiano Brown Boveri’

The sign says ‘No Smoking’ funnily enough.

Onwards into Umbria and another power station, this one adjoining a still functioning gas plant, unfortunately the Siemens turbine sets had been removed, their hall, cooling tower, extract fans and controls remained as did the 1957 brass makers plates I found in a drawer.

Terry clothing manufacturers, pretty much slap bang in the middle of nowhere. It had a supermarket where we purchased our daily ham and cheese to shove into some bread.

The end of the day saw us heading up past Florence and Genoa towards the Dolomites and a fucking incredible electric storm which stopped us in our tracks a couple of times due to visibility and almost merging into a lorry - nice. A night at the oddly named Wolf Village and onwards through one of those crisp mornings where it’s sunny after a long night of rain.

The next morning we headed to a former Ecclesiastical college in the Dolomitian foothills and had a good poke around.

Carrying on the institutional theme of the day, next en route was Manicomo di R, a stalwart of the Italian exploration scene and somewhere I’d wanted to see for a long long time. It took us a good while to get inside here due to lots of people being around. We waited for them to piss off and have their siesta or whatever they call in Italy and set about exploring. Some of the main ‘relics’ or those things you see photographed time and time again had disappeared, which was great as we found things I’d never seen before.

Next stop was Manicomo di Vercelli, which turned out to be a calculated massacre by about 1 billion mosquitos. Popped our heads into a few buildings, decided it was a shit derp and bailed running back to the car to escape the bitey bastards (no photos from here)

Next morning we headed towards yet another popular Italian spot, known as Il Scuneo, another hydroelectric plant that powered a huge cotton mill. Three black Tecnomasio Italiano Brown Boveri vertical hydro turbines from the 1920’s sit in this very grand hall. Tales of alarms and security and all sorts were unfounded and we were swiftly inside and dismayed to find one of the turbines in bits due to refurbishment perhaps? Looks like they’re doing something here to preserve things and presumably the turbine will be put back together.

Last and least, Compound GIC, another sugar refinery on the outskirts of a smelly town in the Southern Veneto, this was a bit of a waste of time. It also has a thing which in urban land is called the ‘Occulus Tower’ fuck knows what it did but it is big, circular and derp.

So that was it, we headed back to Lucca to stay over before our flight back from Pisa and mix with brits in panama hats, eat pizza and drink more moustache Italian lager.


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