The explosion of the gunpowder factory of Marano

The explosion of the gunpowder factory of Marano

7 Dicembre 1891


The photograph was shot by Alessandro Cassarini after the explosion that destroyed a gunpowder factory in Marano of Castenaso, causing the death of 4 of 8 workers who were working there. On the morning of the 7th December 1891, all the city heard the loud outbreak, without understanding the provenance. The inhabitants of the areas out of the gate D’Azeglio were the first to say that the outbreak occurred out of the gate Zamboni and, measuring the distance, they guessed that it happened in the well known factory of gunpowder for hunting. The facility was built two years before the explosion thanks to Settimo Baschieri, the first in Italy to invent a gunpowder known as “acapnia”, which spread through the hunters, and not just from Bologna, but also from the nearby cities.

Already during the morning, the policemen had to do something in order to ward off the curious from the burning rubble, to avoid the new outbreaks to aggravate the balance of the victims. The curiosity of the people was huge. As the news spread in the city, many went to gate Zamboni. "First began the queue of the taxis, then a few cars, and also public vehicles activated for the occasion, and horsemen and cyclists who tried everything to arrive as soon as possible despite the traffic" (“Gazzetta dell’Emilia”, 8th December 1891). The news talked about the trams, which connected the center of the city with the suburban district of Sant’Egidio, always full of people until late at night. "Without feeling bad for the others- concluded the reporter - many took advantage of the great day to take a walk, satisfying at the same time a curiosity which we want to consider pitiful" (“Gazzetta dell’Emilia”, 8 December 1891). The reason for the accident remained uncertain, even if the newspaper talked about the presence of a furnace nearby the rooms used for the production of gunpowder. Many subscriptions were opened and many sport events were organized in order to help the families of the involved workers. Many amateur photographers went to visit the rubble of the gunpowder factory; among them Cassarini, who reproduced the view of the rubble from different points of view and sold those photographs for one lira in favor of the injured. The gunpowder factory was rebuilt by Baschieri himself with the help of a group of Bolognese businessmen. Unfortunately, even later there were also explosions and deaths: in 1929 28 people died and in 1940 more than 100.

Traduzione di Matilde Zanotti, in collaborazione con il Liceo Linguistico Internazionale C. Boldrini di Bologna, marzo 2022.

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