On 15 November at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Pirelli Headquarters in the Bicocca district, the Pirelli Foundation presents an evening devoted entirely to Milan, the capital of Lombardy. This modern, vibrant metropolis preserves traces of its identity as an industrial city in its physical features and in its memory.
The show is produced in collaboration with the Teatro Franco Parenti and the University of Milano-Bicocca. The actors Marina Rocco and Rosario Lisma will take the stage to recite from a number of pages from the historic Pirelli magazine together with excerpts from novels about the city. These will range from Dino Buzzati’s visit to the Pirelli Tower and Alberto Savinio’s description of the “megapterae of Milanese building” to Alda Merini’s poems and Giorgio Scerbanenco’s stories of brutal underworld crimes in 1960s Milan, through to the walls of factories seen as the Great Wall of China by Ottiero Ottieri and Alberto Rollo’s “Milanese education”. The readings by the two actors will be accompanied by the words and reflections of Antonio Calabrò, director of the Pirelli Foundation, Piero Colaprico, a journalist and writer, Giuseppe Lupo, a writer and professor at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and Pietro Redondi, professor at the University of Milan-Bicocca. This polyphonic dialogue between past and present is illustrated by images from the huge photographic archive of the Pirelli Foundation. A photo reportage made between 1958 and 1961 by Arno Hammacher will show the construction of the M1 metro line in Milan on the big screen of the Pirelli Auditorium, illustrating the construction site and workers on the job viewed from unusual perspectives. There will be works by the great photographers Paolo Monti, Aldo Ballo, and Giancarlo Scalfati showing the construction of the Pirelli Tower, capturing one of the moments of city’s greatest vitality in terms of the economy and design during its rapid post-war boom. And there will be factory interiors and city streets filled with fog and the Vespas and Lambrettas ridden by workers hurrying by on their way to work.
Extracts from the screenplay of Questa è la nostra città – a neo-realist melodrama written by Alberto Moravia in 1947 and now in the Pirelli Historical Archive – will also be read for the first time during the evening, The film, which was never made, was commissioned by Alberto Pirelli for the company’s seventy-fifth anniversary and it was to have been directed by Roberto Rossellini, one of the most distinguished directors of the time. The screenplay tells the story of the Riva family, with three generations of workers at Pirelli.
In the text, Moravia also looks at daily life in the industrial world of Milan through the prism of the Pirelli Bicocca factory in the 1940s: “Here is the Pirelli factory. The workers converge from all sides of the square in front of the main entrance, past the fruit carts and the stalls of the cigarette sellers. A pale autumn sun plays on the square and on the walls of the Pirelli factory. The workers enter in line, going to place their bicycles in the shed, and then away they go, each to their own department.”