Cima Norma

There used to be a chocolate factory in the nearby village of Torre.

 

The House has a direct link with Cima Norma.  We understand that the top of our garden table is a cocoa grinding wheel from the old factory

 

Chocolate is currently made to the Cima Norma recipe by Domani Food.

C I M A   N O R M A   S A, Dangio - Torre (Ticino, CH)
Cima Norma Factory, Torre

The following history is a translation of Italian text from http://www.vallediblenio.ch/cima-norma/ with some extensions from other sources.

In the small village of Torre in the Blenio Valley the tradition of chocolatiers is very old. Documents from the last century testify that in the winter months residents emigrated to practice the chocolatier trade. From the Blenio Valley families started that with their tenacity and ability were able to found prosperous chocolatier industries. We mention the Ludovico "Aquilino" Maestrani (b: 26th January 1814 in Aquila, d: 11th June 1880, St Gallen) who founded Maestrani, first in Lucerne and finally in St Gallen and Cima with factories in Nice and Milan. There is a history of Maestrani on YouTube.

Ludovico "Aquilino" Maestrani
Maestrani Grave in Aquila

In 1882 the "Birreria San Salvatore" was founded between Dangio and Torre but it had a very short life after which it was bought by Bellinzona Beer and closed its doors.

 

In 1903, Cima Norma SA two industrial initiatives were born simultaneously:

- The construction of a power plant to illuminate the villages of Dangio, Torre and later Aquila; and,

- The initiative of the Cima di Dangio brothers, was the construction of a "Fabrique de Chocolat Cima".

 

On the night of August 28-29, 1908, the factory was destroyed by the river Soja which burst its banks in a devastating storm. The Cima brothers courageously rebuilt the building and resumed production. There were many financial difficulties to overcome.

 

To their aid came Mr. Giuseppe Pagani, (b: 28th April 1859 ????, d: 21st December 1939 in Torre) who had created a reputable restaurant on Great Portland Street in London W1 London which was frequented by all "politicians and artists who counted at that time".

 

Pagani was so involved in the affairs of Cima SA that in 1913 the Cima family ceded ownership, leaving him as the sole proprietor.

In March 1914, Cima SA acquired the Norma Chocolate Factory in Zurich from the liquidators at the bankruptcy office in Adliswil near Zürich thus forming the current Cima Norma SA. The acquisition of the§ machinery and the furniture gave Mr. Pagani the opportunity to enlarge the Torre factory.

 

On the night of 4-5 November 1915 the cocoa roasting department in the attic of the building caught fire. The fire spread to the rest of the building, partly ruining the lower floors. After the fire Mr. Pagani rebuilt the factory and expanded it further. Mr. Pagani managed to win business to manufacture products on behalf of the COOP, Volg and Usego.

As a result the Cima Norma chocolate factory prospered, growing both in terms of surface area and number of employees. Giuseppe Pagani died in 21st December 1939, he is buried in Aquila. General managers Francesco Antognini and Luigi Ferrazzini took over the running of the firm. Pagani is buried in Cimitero di Torre.

Giuseppe Pagani
Grave Pagani's Grave
Grave Pagani's Grave Plate

Under Pagani's leadership, Cima Norma build houses for the workers and the retiree's where they learned to cook, sew, clean and "the belle manière " (the beautiful way).

 

Cima Norma reached its production peak in the 50's and 60's when it produced 1500 tons of chocolate and employed 340 employees.

 

The Directorate purchased machines that were revolutionary at the time such as "l'Automolda", which made chocolate tablets from liquid chocolate mass in 35 minutes of processing. Another revolutionary machine purchased by Cima Norma at that time was the "Cavemile".

 

In the mid-sixties several new chocolatier companies were born. In August 1966, after almost 50 years of collaboration, key customers canceled their contracts with Cima Norma. In a last ditch effort to save the firm the shareholders did not give up hope and started a frantic search for new customers in Switzerland and abroad. The results were not enough to save the factory which, on 31 July 1968 closed its doors for the last time.  

 

After the closure the assets of the firm were sold to other Swiss chocolate manufacturers. The premises were the transformed for military use  and with part being made available for craft activities.

 

What remains is very interesting from an industrial archeology perspective. The difficult location of the factory explains the problems that had to be faced despite the abundance, for that time, of manpower and energy sources (the factory had two power plants).

 

The factory was a whole world in itself where not only people both lived and worked. The people spoke a special language derived from the French. In fact the departments were named in French, as were the machines. In 1992 this peculiarity was the subject of study by Dr. Mario Vicari the Department of Education, Bellinzona.

 

The "The Chocolate Factory" is a foundation responsible for cultural activity in the former Cima Norma industrial complex in Torre-Dangio in the Blenio Valley, Ticino.

 

The foundation was created with the aim of protecting and maintaining the archaeological, industrial and cultural heritage of Cima Norma and promoting an open space for culture and artistic expression. Further, The Chocolate Factory contributes to the economic development of the Kanton of Ticino, supporting regional traditions, culture and craftsmanship.