The industrial plant
The towers are part of the industrial plant built in the 1930s by the Italian company SNIA Viscosa, which produced cellulose from domestic raw materials and specifically from giant cane (Arundo donax). The factory, which is still in operation, comprises a number of buildings of many different shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. Nevertheless, they all share the same red-brick façades that clearly recall British and German industrial architecture.
The two 54-metre-tall towers were supposed to serve the production of calcium bisulphite. The north tower was built in 1938, the other one two years later, in 1940. Their shape recalls the Roman fasces (fasci littori), from which the term “fascism” derives. The blade of the axe that protruded from the north tower was demolished by workers the day after the fall of the Fascist regime, on 26 July 1943.
A propaganda machine
The production of cellulose from giant cane proved to be of little advantage from the very beginning. Nevertheless, SNIA Viscosa exploited the myth of autarchy tailoring it to the needs and business strategies of the company. The regime, in turn, exploited SNIA Viscosa and its important achievements to consolidate political consensus. In Torviscosa, the autarchy model, planned and celebrated by SNIA’s formidable propaganda machine, lasted for the time strictly necessary to achieve the goals set by the company. The "town of autarchy", upon completing its tasks, became a more prosaic and realistic "town of cellulose."