Iron, water and mountains

Each people develops the activity that best suits the characteristics of the area they inhabit.

A living and thriving reality

Premana stands out from other villages: its identity and culture are significantly rooted in the entire population; it does not experience the phenomenon of depopulation, cultural impoverishment or economic dependence. In fact.

Premana is vibrant, prosperous and economically self-sufficient. The why and how are found in his story.

The village, built on high ground with houses leaning against each other, served a defensive function in the third century AD, when the Roman Empire was on the verge of decline, to prevent barbarian peoples from invading Dervio and the Valsassina by arriving from the Bitto valleys. Where the present bell tower of the Parish Church stands, it is speculated that a watchtower existed: last shelter for the inhabitants in case of enemy attack.

The village with houses leaning against each other

Ironworking and craft production

Over the centuries Premana began to live and create its own socio-economic system: agriculture and handicrafts were fundamental to the growth of the village, but ironworking and the artisanal and industrial production of scissors and knives were the most important markers of its history. Each people developed the activity that best suited the characteristics of the area they inhabited: the abundance of forests for coal production, the abundance of water to drive the forges, and the siderite veins of the upper Varro and Artino, favored as early as since 1200 steelmaking, which began to flourish significantly throughout the Valsassina, meeting the growing demand for iron from the Milanese arms industry.

Ironworking marks the history of Premana

The siderite veins of Upper Varrone and Artino, favored steelmaking as early as the 1200s, which began to flourish significantly throughout Valsassina,

meeting the growing demand for iron from the Milanese arms industry.

1845: the last smelting furnace closes.

But every history also has its dark periods. One of these in Premana occurred in 1845, when the last kiln closed: the still primitive methods of mineral extraction and the need to search for an alternative fuel to charcoal, due to the decrease in woodland stock, were decisive. Forced to emigrate, the Premanese took their craftsmanship and art a bit everywhere: to Venice, Verona, Bergamo, Carrara. Until, in 1869, Ambrogio Sanelli decided to return to the small town, restart an ancient water wheel and build cutting blades.

Sanelli Ambrogio's products awarded at the National Exhibition in Milan, 1881

Economic growth and the “Miracle of Premana”

Economic growth resumed. The “Miracle of Premana” occurred after World War II; the strong attachment to the origins of the 150 young men who returned home from prison camps encouraged them to take up the invigoration of Premana again, never touched by the idea of abandoning their country and their roots. It was a fundamental step in the history of Premana, in the maintenance and enhancement of local culture and the attachment of the population to its territory. The development of handicrafts created a great economic possibility for a quick redemption to the previous dark periods.

ritorno dei giovani premana
The development of handicrafts creates great economic prospects

Premana today

Today Premana registers more than a hundred small to medium-sized companies exporting all over the world with about 1,000 employees and owners. Over the years, unfortunately, labor is becoming scarce, but the word ‘unemployment’ fortunately is still unknown. People’s investment in their land, time and dedication to craftsmanship, and a functioning and independent local economy over the years have shaped, maintained and enhanced the Premanese identity, which is still alive and relevant today.

Scissors and knives: a functioning and independent local economy