On the 28th of January 1872 in Milan, Engineer Giovanni Battista Pirelli, together with 24 business partners, appeared before a notary to file his deed concerning “the establishment of a limited partnership for the manufacture and sale of articles in elastic rubber, G.B Pirelli & C.”
In late 19th century Italy, there were few who knew about elastic rubber. Pirelli himself had spent months and months travelling across Europe to understand what elastic rubber was before embarking on that entrepreneurial adventure. Born in Varenna, on Lake Como, Giovanni Battista Pirelli moved to Milan to attend the special school of civil engineering. In 1870, at the age of 22, he won the “Kramer scholarship”, financed by a countess from Milan, Teresa Berra Kramer, and awarded to the two best graduates so they could study “a new industry or one that was not widespread in Italy” and “complete their theoretical-practical studies through an educational journey abroad”. Thus in a year and a half, the young Pirelli thus travelled through Switzerland, Belgium, France and Germany and visited no fewer than 138 plants in the textiles, mechanical, railroad and metallurgical sectors, and just six companies processing rubber.
His diary documents his visits to the various sites, the technical characteristics of the machinery used, how production and labor were organized, the types of products and financing systems, accompanied by sketches and drawings. Pirelli returned to Italy with enough information to design the first plant and become one of Italy’s greatest entrepreneurial success stories.