Once upon a time, there was a clanging tram that passed in the midst of crop fields and through the railway underpass then called Sempione: it connected Milan to Rho, which at the beginning of the 1900s was still a small village. Its population growth began with the arrival of the first industries. During the post-World War II period, Rho was welcoming more and more people from all over Italy, searching for new work opportunities from textile producers like Chatillon and Castellana. These manufacturing sites offered jobs especially to young women in the tailoring and packaging departments. The factories therefore became places for socializing, union battles, discussions and life experiences, all captured by numerous photographs that show moments like trips and recreational activities enjoyed by the employees.
In 1970s Rho, on via Castelli Fiorenza 36/37, Diana de Silva Cosmétiques was also operating. It was one of the most important Italian perfume companies, run by Roberto de Silva, a brilliant businessman and a modern art expert, patron and successful gallery owner. Diana de Silva Cosmétiques carried brands like Hanorah and Breeze, and was licensed for fashion perfume brands such as Gianfranco Ferrè, Chiara Boni, Byblos, Pancaldi, Ettore Bugatti, and Raffaella Curiel; all popular and high quality products, made in the chemical and biological research laboratories as well as the manufacturing and packaging areas of the Diana de Silva Cosmétiques site, in the center of Rho.
Today, in the place of perfumes and manufacturing facilities, stands a splendid new theater: a true temple of culture which has replaced the industrial buildings. At a time when theaters in Italy are closing, the Roberto de Silva Theater has been opened as part of an ambitious urban renewal program in the center of Rho, taking the name of Diana Bracco’s husband, who passed away in 2012.
Construction began in 2019 by Bracco Real Estate, the owners of the site. With the aim of creating an innovative space dedicated to art, the theater faces a lovely new town square, and can accommodate up to 580 people. The building, equipped with the latest technologies, also features multipurpose areas that can hold exhibitions and conferences in the foyer and in a smaller convention hall.
The Bracco Group held the inauguration of the Roberto de Silva Theater in November 2022 with a concert by the great maestro Giovanni Sollima, and a special evening organized by the La Scala Theater Academy. To mark the occasion, Diana Bracco said, “We are proud to have made a significant contribution to the urban renewal of Rho, realizing a contemporary theater with a glass facade, a sign of transparency which has technological features and cutting-edge acoustics. Here, industry proved able to transform itself into culture. My husband Roberto, who was truly passionate about art, would have been happy, because culture is still a powerful instrument for the promotion of tolerance and peace.”