Skip to main content

Mola di Monte Gelato

Categories/ tags: Utilization of water and wind power.

Historical content: Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Monte Gelato, the Mola, or mill, stands as a testament to a bygone era. Its origins trace back to 1830 when the Del Drago family, stewards of the estate, commissioned its construction. By 1837, the Del Drago family had assumed ownership of the entire estate, marking the beginning of a legacy that would intertwine with the mill’s existence.

Form – main architectural features: The Mola complex is a harmonious blend of architectural elements, leveraging pre-existing medieval structures. Positioned strategically between the two branches of the Treja torrent, the mill takes advantage of the natural surroundings, particularly the well-known waterfalls. The site itself may have served a milling purpose in ancient times, adding layers of historical significance to its foundations. Additionally, a turret, located to the south along the present municipal road, contributes to the complexity of the mill complex.

The primary structure comprises a multi-storey tower accompanied by a lower building. This section served as the core of the milling operations, with the actual milling area situated on the lower floor of the towering structure. Intriguingly, the entrance to the mill was on the first floor, ingeniously linked to the turret by a wooden bridge. This architectural feature not only enhanced accessibility but also added a touch of charm to the mill’s functionality.

Function: On the western side of the mill, a well-constructed wall with locks stands as a testament to the ingenuity of water management. This wall was designed to regulate the flow of water, a critical aspect of the mill’s operation. The successful functioning of the mill relied on the precision of these water control mechanisms. Remarkably, the mill continued its operations until the early sixties of the twentieth century, sustaining the Del Drago family’s legacy through decades of technological advancements and societal changes.

The Mola di Monte Gelato was a hub of activity, primarily dedicated to grain grinding. Its strategic location between the branches of the Treja torrent allowed efficient water usage, essential for the milling process. The wall to the west, equipped with locks, regulated the water flow, ensuring optimal functioning. This remarkable structure remained active until the early sixties of the twentieth century, a testament to its enduring functionality.

Lessons for sustainability: It also imparts valuable lessons in sustainability. Its strategic use of water, regulated by the locks in the west wall, showcases an early understanding of water management. While not initially designed for renewable energy, the Mola stands as an archetype for adaptive reuse. Today, the millstone, after years of abandonment, has been repurposed to house an exhibition. This adaptive reuse not only preserves the structure but also engages visitors with the rich history of the Mola.

Cultural heritage and tourism: Following a period of neglect and abandonment, the millstone underwent a meticulous restoration process. Today, it has been repurposed to house an insightful exhibition. Through a combination of intricate models and informative panels, visitors can delve into the historical nuances of the mill’s structure and its relationship with the surrounding landscape. This transformation not only preserves the architectural heritage of the Mola but also serves as an educational hub, allowing present-day audiences to connect with the rich history embedded in Monte Gelato’s mill, bridging the past and the present.

Embark on a captivating virtual journey to explore the enchanting Mola di Monte Gelato, where echoes of history reverberate through the ages, and each brick narrates a compelling story. We invite you to partake in the celebration of this enduring structure, and witness to the enchanting magic that encapsulates Italy’s cultural heritage.

Location: Mazzano Romano – Italy


Parco Regionale Valle del Treja. (n.d.). La Mola di Monte Gelato. Retrieved January 4, 2024, from: