The textile industry characterised the history and the face of the city. It is not the same today, for two reasons: economic crisis in the sector, which sharply reduced the number of companies, and the fact that remaining companies have moved away from the centre, most recently to the Fontaneto industrial park. A lot of the textile companies which were a feature of the city’s economy have disappeared. The buildings where they operated have been demolished (as part of an urban rebuilding scheme which has changed and is still changing the appearance of parts of the city centre) or have been “recycled” and put to new uses.
The Vajro Bleaching Factory
This was a factory where hanks of thread and finished articles were whitened. It was originally for the exclusive use of members of the University of Fustagno (Corduroy), but later removed restrictions on clients. It had various owners until it was purchased, in recent years, by Chieri City Council.
The Fasano Factory
Coming back into the city, you pass the Fasano factory, which was built from 1885 on and stands on the street of the same name. The owner’s mansion and offices stand at the crossroads with Viale Fiume and stand out because of their elegant construction and decoration. This is the best example in the city of a residential and service building annexed to a factory.
The Tabasso Cottonworks
A short distance from the Fasano factory there is the Tabasso cottonworks, an extensive complex which is known as the Ex-Tabasso by the people of Chieri today (and will probably keep this title). Then the crossroads between Via Vittorio Emanuele II and Via Fratelli Giordano was the site of one of the largest weavers in the city, also renowned for weaving cloth for the clothes of the Pope. After it closed, at the end of the 1900s the premises were sold by auction to the City Council, which is currently converting them into a cultural hub for the city, housing the library, the city archives, a multi-functional hall and a literary cafè. Part of the complex will be sold to private concerns for residential or commercial use.
The Vergnano Cottonworks
Not far away, at Viale Fasano 6, there is a chimney stack, 45 metres high, and a Liberty style façade of a building put up in 1907. This is all that remains of the Vergnano cottonworks, which is today the site of a shopping mall.
The Caselli Dyeworks
Turning from Viale Fasano into Via Tana and then passing into Via San Pietro brings you rapidly to the Caselli dyeworks, which stands on the square, Piazza Trieste and is now the site of the city youth centre. This building has been radically structured to accommodate various activities (including an employment guidance centre) and forms the centre of what is now known as the Caselli area, bordering on a large public garden which runs along the banks of the Tepice stream.
Inside the garden, at the point where it opens onto the green area along the stream, there is a long section of the second ring of the city walls, including a sort of watchtower, which is now overgrown by vegetation.