The water used by the formerly Torrazzo power plant, now known as Marchesini (Impianti Agno), has long been used for the production of energy. The Torrazzo stream, a right tributary of the Agno river near S. Quirico, provided energy to numerous mills located along its course (“Danese”, “Beschi”, “Peserico”, “Pellichero”), starting from the previous centuries.
One of the most relevant and best documented mills was the one known as “Mulino dei Sandri”, located in the homonymous locality, not far from the center of S. Quirico. The first evidence of its existence dates back to 1717 when A. Capello used the water from the Torrazzo stream to feed a wheel used for wheat grinding. Over time, a second wheel used for the same purpose was added, followed by a third wheel designed to grind plaster and a fourth wheel for the piling of barley, for a total of four wheels, two with cassettes and two with paddles, as described in a document dating back to 1870. In the 1910s, the history of the “Mulino dei Sandri” mill was intertwined with the history of the wool mill Lanificio Marzotto. The latter had obtained water diversion rights in the area (belonging to the factories already mentioned) and submitted several projects between 1912 and 1916. The intake works would be twofold: the first along the Valle Montagna Spaccata, in proximity of the drain system of the two turbines from the homonymous power station owned by Dalle Ore; the second, a few meters away, directly on the Torrazzo stream, consisting of a small dam. The diverting channel would then run on the hydrographic right-hand side of the stream for a total of about 2500 m, over 400 of which in a tunnel built “in stone and limestone masonry, of rectangular section”. From the small loading tank (50m3) a forced conduit of about 300 meters, «raised from the ground and supported by concrete pillars with iron saddles», would transfer the waters to the power station. It was a two-storey building: the ground floor housed two Pelton turbines and the related machinery for energy production; the first floor served as the guard’s home.
After supplying energy to the Marzotto plants for decades, the Marchesini power plant experienced a progressive decline, culminating in the breaking of the forced pipeline in 2001. Purchased by Impianti Agno, the power plant was subjected to profound restructuring works of both the building and the various electro-hydraulic equipment. When the renovation project was concluded in 2013, the production of energy for the valley and its inhabitants was resumed.
The works also affected the rooms on the upper floor, which were radically transformed and adapted to host the Alto Vicentino Centre for the promotion of renewable energy sources. The Centre was mainly conceived for the students from the local schools and it is equipped with a 84-seat multimedia room, whose walls are coated with panels that explain the history of hydroelectric energy production in the area and the evolution of the power plant where it is located. The Centre has hosted numerous initiatives over the last few years, including various activities promoted by Impianti Agno mainly focusing on “the educational value of water as a source of renewable energy and the historical-cultural heritage of the plants in the area that use it, in collaboration with the main local institutions, schools, academies and associations”.