Re-activation of the Precassino Mill

The mill and its press are an important legacy in the history of Cadenazzo and they have been ‘rediscovered’ and evaluated over this past decade. That which used to appear as ruins in the middle of the woods is now a valuable asset within a unique geomorphologic context in which the geological component of the rocks evocatively bears witness to the Ice Age.


The existence of the mill is likewise borne witness to in medieval documents. Its first owner was the Chapter of Saint Peter of Pavia, probably succeeded by the Knights of Malta, whose presence in the territory is on record from the beginning of the 11th century. The location of the mill was known as “Ad Ghalenghum”, a term that may have generally been used to refer to a place that is characterized by a narrow valley with a waterfall (source: IVS – CLM). In centuries past, water-produced energy made it possible to run some nine hundred hydraulic facilities in Ticino. Thanks to the 1894-1896 public-water cadastre, preserved in the Canton’s Archives, it is possible for us to have a quite precise idea of the importance of this heritage over the entire Canton. Likewise, the registry of the production facilities that use water as a source of energy, promoted by the Cantonal Bureau of Ethnographic Museums (1986-1988), makes it possible for us to know the geographical distribution of various types of facilities: cereal mills, mechanic hammers, various types of presses, olive mills, sawmills, spinning mills, millstones. The cleaning work carried out in 2004 brought to light six millstones (made of natural stone and concrete), typical tools for the milling of corn and wheat, and a large stone with two ‘basins’ (large muffler-like indentations) which, in this territory, were probably used for polishing barley. The small-scale indoor areas of the building seem to indicate that, in all likelihood, only one millstone was used.

The Precassino Mill is well located within its rural context and it is 300 metres above sea level, close to the centre of Cadenazzo and close to the Riale di Robasacco’s last drop. The ideal position of a mill is on a road, path or mule-track, and this reinforces the idea that the mill in question lay on a historic route. The first part of the renovation work, i.e. the cleaning of the rock on the eastern side of the edifice, brought to light the underlying rock with its Ice Age morphology. These masses originated due to the powerful erosive force of the Ticino glacier during the last glaciation, which reached its peak 18,000 to 20,000 years ago.

The reactivation of the Precassino Mill will be completed in 2016 with the laying of the press and with the mill’s first run.