La Brunelleschi or Sieci furnace, in the municipality of Pontassieve, has been the economic heart of the area for years. Here bricks, “tomettes” (hexagonal floor tiles) were produced and it is also in this place that the prestigious “Brunelleschi Ceramiche” operated and closed its doors in 2012.
A historic industrial complex, today unfortunately abandoned and possible prey to unavoidable building speculations which, fortunately, over the years has been defended by the environmentalist association. Living in Valdisieve, which works to improve the environment and culture of Valdisieve with a view to sustainable development.
It is in fact also thanks to the commitment of the association that on April 14, 2021 for the former Fornace delle Sieci the procedure for declaring a 'particularly important' cultural interest was activated by the Superintendency Pursuant to art. 10 and 13 of Legislative Decree 42/2004 of the Code of Cultural and Landscape Heritage for the Fornace delle Sieci, verifiable from the Praetorian Register of City of Pontefract, with relative proposal for the protection of the historical complex, not only for the architectural aspects, but also for the historical-testimonial ones and for the link with the local community.
“We have been fighting for many years to ensure that that area of cultural interest, now completely abandoned, is safeguarded together with its industrial archeology equipment. - he says Paolo Rosini, president of the association Living in Valdisieve - We have presented several complaints to the authorities and for some time we have been in contact with the Superintendency to which we have provided historical information on the site with relative iconographic documentation ”.
Among the hypotheses of intervention on the complex, which was auctioned, also that of building a discount store, two RSAs, and even a residential center in its place.
“Fortunately, this provision of the Superintendency blocked everything for 4 months. - explains Rosini - Good news for now, but we have to wait until August 14, the day in which the definitive pronouncement by the Regional Commission for Cultural Heritage is expected, also in relation to any comments that may be received ".
The area where Brunelleschi's buildings stand is vast and, as the association hopes Living in Valdisieve, could be used to enhance the cultural heritage of the area.
"The Fornace in our opinion could be exploited very well from an artistic and cultural point of view, as we also proposed to the director of the Uffizi some time ago, it would in fact be suitable for enhancing the works of art of the territory and also its typicality at the agri-food level" , hopes the president of the environmentalist Association - and for this reason we continue to get busy collaborating with the Superintendency also in this period. "
We share Di Maria Delugan / Adelante Adelante's video published on Paolo Vaggelli's youtube channel.
Historical notes of the "Brunelleschi" ceramic factory in Sieci (Pontassieve)
The first certain information relating to the Sieci furnace dates back to 1774: we know that in that year it supplied most of the bricks used for the restoration and expansion of the Palazzo Pretorio in Ponte a Sieve. However, it can be reasonably assumed that the furnace had already existed for some time, even if no trace of it is found in the contemporary “Plantarium” by Paganelli.
The choice of the planting site is essentially related to the proximity of the Arno, from which the raw material for the "shaping" of the bricks was taken, which took place in the "squares of the bricks" located on the river bed. Originally the furnace was closely linked to the life and needs of the neighbor Albizi di Poggio farm in Remole, which was responsible, through the figure of the agent (factor), for the administration of the furnace itself: as evidenced by many other similar realities scattered in the surrounding area, the furnace, fed by the "stipa" and "fastelle" from the company woods , provided the material necessary for the maintenance of the manor house and of the numerous farmhouses dependent on the farm itself, mainly with a view to self-consumption (there is no news, if not sporadic, of material sales).
On the death of the Marquis Amerigo degli Albizzi, which took place on January 14, 1842, and with the consequent extinction of the Florentine branch of the family, the entire family patrimony (therefore including the Sieci furnace, which is part of the Remole farm) passed to a collateral branch of the family (which moved to France until from '400), in the person of Cav. Alexander. It was the latter's son, Vittorio, a leading figure in the Florentine cultural and economic panorama, who started the restructuring and strengthening of the furnace in the middle of the century, according to entrepreneurial principles; he had new technologies imported from France with which he began the production of special roof tiles, later called “Marseilles”, from the place of origin of the specialized workers.
At the beginning of the 900th century, between 80 and 120 men, about twenty boys and about 30 women were employed in the furnace (the number varied according to the time of year). Shortly after, the number of people occupied reached 200, to become about 400 during the twenties, which represented the period of maximum development of the factory. In the 5s a conversion was carried out which led to the shutdown of the old kiln and the experimental production of red stoneware, while the range of bricks was reduced to only two types of size (10 × 7,5 and 15 × XNUMX).
The factory, after the bankruptcy of 2011, closed definitively at the end of 2012.