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The Paper Mills of Pale


In 1810, there were as many as 16 active paper mills between Pale and Belfiore that employed about 130 workers.  At the end of the 1910s, there were 12 paper mills with 249 employees. Between 1911 and 1912, the paper mills were hit by the crisis and only 4 remained operational, with 71 workers. There are no more active factories in the valley now.

The force of the high hill river Menotre, which feeds off the springs of the Favuella ditch, has left its mark on the manufacturing history of the valleys where it flows. The hydraulic energy obtained from the river has led to the construction of wool mills, mills and, above all, paper mills since the 1300s.

The fulling mills, known as gualche da panno or valchevarghe, gualchiere, had been in operation here already since 1079, with their folloni, large wooden mallets operated by hydraulic power, which were used to beat and macerate the rags, cloths from which pisto was obtained to make cotton paper.


The cotton paper made by the small paper mills in Pale involved very fine workmanship and was highly appreciated at the time. In 1590, the Vatican’s librarian, Angelo Rocca, said the paper made in Pale was unequalled. Following the papal bull issued by Clement XIV in 1673, which granted the paper manufacturers of Belfiore the freedom to trade paper, the village saw a strong rise in paper production.


The existence of the Sordini family as master paper manufacturers in Fabriano has been documented since 1283. The factory in Pale dates back to the 18th century, though its largest expansion was in 1869. In 1910, the paper made by the paper mill was intended for the Royal Printing Works in Rome.

From 1929 to 1943, the paper mill produced currency rag paper and stamped paper for the State. The plant consisted of six departments, plus an additional department. First, the rags were sorted in the rag shop, then sent to the lye washing department, where they where boiled. After that, the rags were shredded and bleached, and then transferred to the settling cells, where they were drained.

The pulp was subsequently shredded in the Dutch refining cylinders department. It was then passed though the flattening machine, where it was shaped, dried and lastly cut and packed. The paper mill was shut down in the 1990s.


Chiovata, the former Carnali paper mill, had been running since the 14th century thanks to the Benedictines. During the 15th century, ownership passed into the hands of the powerful Trinci family from Foligno, who continued the production of excellent rag paper (carta da straccio). It kept on producing up to the second half of the 1800s.

The Innamorati-Bartocci e Cherubini paper mill, set up in the early 1800s, underwent the same fate of all the other paper mills of the village: small factories characterised by paper made with traditional manufacturing systems.

The existence of the old Cherubini Cherubino paper mill has been documented since 1748. It probably produced handmade writing paper. The factory is one of the paper mills that in the second half of the 1700s processed 1,200,000 pounds of rags in total, with a production of 28,000 reams of Palomba, Mezzanella, Genovese, Ancora, Stella, Reale Fioretta, Reale Fina and Turchinetta paper. Its paper was sold in Italy and exported abroad.

As for the Agostini Gaetano paper mill, by looking at the industrial statistics of 1857, it is possible to establish that the Agostini Niccolò paper mill had been running since “time immemorial”. About 30 years earlier, the same statistics reported 1790 as the foundation year of the company. It is certain that in the early 1800s, the factory made
60,000 Roman pounds of handmade paper every year.

As regards the paper mill known as “Cartiera della Rupe” or “Cartiera Innamorati Vincenza”, the former “Cartiera della Rupe or Ripe” paper mill, this is very likely an extremely old production site, although no documents proving the origin of the building have been found. A document from the Notarial Archive of the Municipality of Foligno reports the purchase of a paper mill and a house from Perna by Pietro di Cecco di Renzoro Elisei in 1434. The buildings were annexed to the renowned villa Elisei, the summer residence of one of the most notable families in the city of Foligno, owners of the castle of Pale since

As for the paper mill called “Ex Stenditoi della s.a.c.p.”, the former factory is located on
the walls of the Pale castle. The plant was apparently set up in 1856. That was actually the date when the company known as “Innamorati Guido” was established. It produced handmade paper in one of the plants in Pale, probably the one belonging to his ancestor, Vincenzo Innamorati. Only after the year 1900 did the company move part of its processes and machines to the new factory, which was built in front of the Antonio Innamorati paper mill, as also shown by the plans of the Gregorian Land Registry.

The Innamorati Antonio paper mill: the former “Innamorati” industrial complex is situated in the lowest area of Pale, to the west of the village. It lies between the right branch of the river Menotre and via Belfiore, also called Via delle Ripe. The company known as “Innamorati Antonio” had been running the paper mill since 1730, though the plant is thought to have very old origins. According to local scholars, the first Italian paper mills of the 18th century were set up in Pale next to and over the first waterfall of the right diversion of the river Menotre, where the former paper mills of Gaetano Agostini and Antonio Innamorati were located.

Innamorati Giovanni paper mill: the former factory is located to the east of Pale, along Via Menotre, over and mostly next to the right diversion of the river Menotre, near a large flat area. According to oral evidence, Giovanni Innamorati, who came from a family of paper entrepreneurs, was apparently the owner of the production site. The paper mill is no longer in operation.


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