Alessandro Rossi (1821–98)

Alessandro Rossi was born in Schio, a citizen of the Habsburg Empire, which, until the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, ruled the region around Vincenza. Subsequently, as head of the woollen cloth manufacturing company Lanificio Rossi, he became one of the dominant figures in the economy of the newly-unified Kingdom of Italy, and a member of the Italian Senate. He was the son of Francesco Rossi who built a woollen mill in Schio in 1817.

Alessandro Rossi constructed a succession of other mills, as well as the Jacquard Gardens, and New Schio, a workers’ colony in the tradition established in Britain by Robert Owen and Sir Titus Salt, that was designed by the architect Antoni Caragaro Negrin (1821-98). He was a devout Catholic and his paternalism was derived from his religious convictions, as well as from a belief that it was better for industrial workers to live in village-like communities than in large cities. Rossi retired from business in 1892, although he continued to be involved with politics. His villa in the Pompeian style set within extensive parklands is conserved at Santorso near Schio, together with his adjacent model farm of the early 1880s.

Rossi’s memorial by Guilio Monteverde (1837-1917), erected in 1902, stands outside the church of St Antony in Schio.