Fabbrica Bianchi

This famous bicycle factory gave an active contribution to the strikes of 1943 and 1944 and to the Resistance in Milan.

The glorious Bianchi bicycle factory was located a few steps away from the Istituto magistrale Virgilio in piazza Ascoli (previously called Piazza Tonoli), right next to the barracks of the Aeronautica in piazza Novelli (previously piazza Italo Balbo).

The 7th Brigata nera Aldo Resega, compagnia Tonoli, also settled in the area; according to many active players of those years, they gathered some of the worst fascists, like the worker at Bianchi and partisan of the 116th Brigata Garibaldi Amilcare Bestetti: “That is where comrades and suspected antifascists would be sent, and it’s a place to avoid. They hit hard in there”.

After the war, the facilities of the company in the area have been demolished and replaced with buildings of higher value.

The events surrounding Bianchi’s company are told by Amilcare Bestetti in an interview recorded on tape on 18th February 1985 by Antonio Quatela.

Amilcare Bestetti was hired in the factory in 1925 as an apprentice technician at the age of 17 and a half, when fascism was asserting itself as an authoritarian regime.

His loyalty to antifascism was mainly due to his contacts with the elderly workers in Turro and Greco. Bestetti states that, at the end of the 1920s, the number of workers at Bianchi who were against fascism was quite high. However, the overall majority of them supported fascism.

The 1930s were the years in which Bestetti and most of his coworkers at the factory decided to resist Mussolini’s regime. Later, with the Spanish civil war, this activity of resistance against all forms of fascism afflicting Europe grew more and more. These were the years where the distribution of flyers and newspapers increased together with consensus among the workers of the factory.

One of the most important moments before the fall of Mussolini, on 25th July 1943, was the strike of March 1943. Bestetti recalls the event: “That strike at Bianchi went well, so well that Mussolini’s shack started shaking. It is thanks to that strike that we managed to discuss with fascist workers over our life conditions and who was benefiting from the war. These debates have been crucial for so many workers who naively believed Mussolini. Unfortunately, the response from the regime was swift. After the strike, ten workers have been carried away from the Bianchi factory. Only one of them came back from the German concentration camps after 25th April 1945”.
Roberto Cenati