Noted art critic Vittorio Sgarbi hit the nail on the head when, in 2004, he described Fornace Penna as “a secular basilica by the sea”.
Indeed, this abandoned industrial structure echoes some of the crumbling medieval cathedrals scattered around Europe – such as the Igreja Do Carmo in Lisboa, the Abbey of San Galgano in the province of Siena or that of Jumièges, in Normandy.
Built in the early 1900s in Pisciotto (a part of Sampieri, in the municipality of Scicli, a fishing village in the province of Syracuse), Fornace Penna specialized in manufacturing bricks sold across Mediterranean countries: the factory’s proximity to the sea made its products relatively easy to export.
However, business lasted only a little over ten years. The night of January 24th 1924, arson turned the factory into the fascinating and deserted stone skeleton we see today.