Flipping Book | 110 years of future | Salini Impregilo Library

33 32 Lovero Dam, Sondrio, Italy, 1948 On June 11, 1944, Vittorio Valletta was given orders that Fiat had to move the production of the Italian Air Force to an underground shelter close to Turin, and transfer the aircraft engines of Officina 17 in Mirafiori into the tunnels exca- vated along the Lake Garda road. Fiat’s gener- al manager began a long arm-wrestle with the German authorities, while he made sure that the Allies were informed step-by-step of what was go- ing on. The groups of partisans and the agents of the British and American secret services par- achuted into Northern Italy acting as dispatch riders. The two-timing would allow Valletta, once the Liberation had come, to go back to head Fiat, after a short-lived purge. After the Armistice on September 8, 1943, Paolo took part in the initiatives undertaken by the elec- trical industrialists and then by the Committee for the Liberation of Northern Italy to defend the hy- droelectric plants that the Germans wanted to de- stroy. Luigi was captured by the SS in Milan and was interrogated for a whole day. In those years, the company was engaged in projects in the ter- ritories bordering Switzerland, and he managed to help many fellow countrymen cross the border by disguising them as workers from his company. Some construction sites could only be reached by cable car, and checks were very strict. The Duke of Genoa was accompanied into Switzerland by Luigi’s father, passing through the construction site in Valtellina at Morbegno. In the Milan office four meetings of the National Liberation Committee of Northern Italy were held, chaired by Riccardo Lombardi. Giuseppe, the other son, known as Peppino and born in 1918 (he died in Milan in 2004), sought his own dimension mostly abroad, in Latin America and in the Middle East. And he was the one who befriended the Fiat engineer Francesco Pennacchioni, who had taken control of Impresit. The company Imprese Italiane all’Estero (Impresit) was founded on August 1, 1929, with funding from the Credito Italiano, the Banca di Roma, and the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. A small capital, in truth, just 120,000 Lire at the time, was barely enough to cover the initial costs. The aim was to create synergy with companies ca- pable of participating in the competitions for the major engineering works abroad. The great crisis (the Wall Street Crash, Black Tuesday, would oc- cur on October 29, 1929) that would overwhelm Europe and Italy one year later had not yet hap- pened, and Mussolini was engaged in the battle for the Lira to keep the exchange rate with the British Pound Sterling at 90, which was reached, or nearly so (in actual fact it was 88.09), in 1927. The measure aimed to consolidate and re-evaluate the national currency, in spite of the criticism and the explicit attacks by the industrial- ists and above all the export companies. Just three months after its establishment, Impresit was recapitalized up to 4,800,000 Lire and Alberto Pirelli chaired the Board of Directors. The owner of the rubber group, son and heir to Giovan Battista, as well as being Vice-President of Credito Italiano, was one of the capitalists who Mussolini respected and listened to the most and, in fact, appointed him Ambassador of Industrial Italy. In 1926 Pirelli had created the National Institute for Foreign Commerce, and from this point of view Impresit could be considered one of its operative branches. The most important pro- ject in those years, the result of Pirelli’s initiative, was the Trans-Iranian railway (1933-36). It would be the start of a relationship with Iran (the “country of the Aryans,” called Persia until 1935), which would be renewed over the course of time. Ancient Persia, a constitutional monarchy since 1906, had been ruled since 1921 by Reza Khan, an army officer who had dethroned the sovereign Ahmad Qajar following a coup d’état . Four years later he appointed himself Shah un- der the name Pahlavi, and had the by then “nor- malized” parliament definitively dethroned the Qajar dynasty. The Pahlavi family would reign until the 1979 Revolution. The railroad had an important strategic value above all during the Second World War when Iran, by then led by Mohammed Rheza and considered to be too friendly with Germany, was invaded by Great Britain and the Soviet Union, thus renewing a di- vision that had already taken place in 1907. During the years when the fascist regime in Italy consolidated its hold on all fields of industry to the extent of exercising full fledged cultural he- gemony, before the adventure in Ethiopia paved the way to sanctions and autarchy, and the war swept away the elation for the Empire, a new player arrived on the scene of public works: Pietro Salini, the grandfather of the Group’s cur- rent CEO, also named Pietro. Born in 1904, “a Roman of frank and jealous tradition,” he studied at the Jesuit College, the Collegio Massimo, and trained at the school of the Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val y Zulueta, Secretary of State to Pope Pius X. Their friendly relationship continued even when the powerful cardinal, a sophisticated diplomat, born in London when his father was ambassador to the King of Spain, had become the head of the Holy Office. After a long internship with planning and managing works with the best-known profes- sionals of the day, and then with the Istituto Case per Impiegati dello Stato, Pietro Salini began his activity as a builder in 1936, together with his partners Pesci, Zaccardi and Rocchi: the schools of the Gordiana quarter, buildings on viale Parioli and via Trasone in Rome, the airports of Guidonia in the military zone of Castel di Decima. Deter- mined to overcome every obstacle, Pietro Salini offered to build the new 100,000-seat stadium where Mussolini wanted to welcome Hitler, then called the Stadio dei Cipressi, at the foot of Monte Mario. The Catalyst of Bricks and Mortar In the Italy of 1945, citizens earned an average income that was over 25% less than the average wage noted when the Fascists came to power years before. Lodigiani too had suffered, but the company was able to recover and the reviv- al started, once again, from the railway sector,

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