The Leogra valley is located near Schio, the capital of industrial archaeology, and winds north-west, towards Pian delle Fugazze, at the foothill of Mount Pasubio, passing by the spurs of Mount Summano and Mount Novegno and the Small Dolomites, famous sceneries of the First World War. The area is bounded to the north by the province of Treviso, to the east by the Valdastico and Posina municipalities, to the west by those of the Agno Valley, whereas it borders to the south with the municipalities of the upper Vicentine plain, which includes Valli del Pasubio, Torrebelvicino, Monte di Mano, San Vito di Leguzzano, Santorso and Piovene Rocchette.
Numerous country districts still maintain many of the characteristics of the ancient rural life, even if it has been mixed with industrial culture. In addition to urban centres, the territory is characterised by the Leogra and Timonchio streams and four mounts (Sengio Alto, Pasubio, Novegno and Summano).
The most renowned products of the food and wine tradition of this land is the Marano corn and the wines produced by Cantina sociale della Val Leogra, in Malo: its top product is an interesting variety of Durello, aged 18 months under the castle of Schio. The liquour Gerolimino is another specialty, made by infusion of several essences.
Since the Middle Ages, the traditional rural economy has been accompanied by artisan activity, documented by the dense network of mills, sawmills and other facilities built along the banks of the Leogra stream and its deviation, the Roggia Maestra, an irrigation ditch dug in the first half of the 13th century between Schio and Pievebelvicino. The presence of the Roggia Maestra influenced the development of the urban centre of Schio and the economic life of its citizens. The Torrebelvicino-Pievebelvicino irrigation ditch dates back to the 20th century.
The availability for water energy played an important role for the industrial development during the 19th century, because it used to make the machines work. Similarly to other geographical piedmont situations in Northern Italy, the relationship with the river has always been of great importance, and it is evident since industries kept using water energy even after relocating from the mountains to the plains and after the introduction of steam and electricity as energy sources.
Schio is the major attraction of the valley and the Upper Vicentine area: thanks to Alessandro Rossi’s knowledge on the factory system, it became the capital of the wool industry in 1870. Different types of mills, sawmills, wool and industrial factories, as well as hydroelectric power plants and worker houses stand as proof of the ancient proto-industrial activities and the more recent ones in the Leogra Valley.
The so-called “Fabbrica Alta” (literally, “Tall Factory”) overlooks everything from its brick chimney stacks, a landmark and proof of the importance of the Schio industry at European level. To explore these landmarks means to retrace the network of relationships, behaviours, life styles and ideas that have created one of the most interesting industrial civilisation in the Veneto region.
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