Cascina Torchiera is a historic 'cascina a corte' (farmhouse) of Milan, Italy, dating back to the first half of the 14th century. It is located in Zone 8, adjacent to the Maggiore cemetery, in the Musocco/Garegnano district, and qualifies as one of the oldest surviving cascine within the city boundaries. The cascina is formally the property of the Comune di Milano city administration, but has been a squatted autonomous social centre since the 1990s.
The cascina has undergone several transformations over the centuries. The original building dates back to the 14th century; at the time, it was located in the middle of a large rural area. The name "torchiera" may be a reference to an olive press ("torchio" in Italian) or the manufacturing of hemp rope ("torcitura"). The Mailänder Kataster (an 18th-century cadastre of Milan), reports cultivations of barley and mulberry in the land that surrounded the cascina.
Historically a property of the clergy of the nearby Garegnano Charterhouse, the cascina and the surrounding land (including the Maggiore cemetery) were ceded to the Comune di Milano in 1888. Part of the building was demolished to create a large open space at the entrance of the cemetery; as a consequence, the cascina is now L-shaped, having lost the original square-yarded structure that is typical of cascine. After becoming a property of the Comune, the cascina was adapted for diverse uses such as craft workshops, small shops, and a local seat of the Italian Socialist Party; nevertheless, it was never properly maintained and restored. Eventually there was structural subsidence and a large portion of the roof collapsed.
In 1992, the cascina was occupied and turned into an "anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-authoritarian" squatted social centre, known as Cascina Autogestita Torchiera SenzAcqua. The center remains active, despite sporadic attempts by Milan's administration to dismantle it or to sell the property. In fact, the "SenzAcqua" ("WithoutWater") word in the name is a reference to the fact that, in one such attempt, the city shut down the water supply to the cascina, a situation that persists today.
Volunteers from the social centre have been restoring the building since 1994. Social activities in the cascina include theatrical representations, musical events, and Italian language classes for foreigners.
- (in Italian) Breve storia della Cascina Torchiera
- (in Italian) In vendita gli immobili del comune
- (in Italian) Alberto di Monte, Torchiera e Merlata: due cascine milanesi nell'Expo della postmodernità, pp. 27-39
- Cognetti, Francesca; Cottino, Paolo (2010). "Developers of a different city: New forms of community in laissez faire Milan". City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action. 7 (2): 227–235. doi:10.1080/13604870320001366787.
- (in Italian) Libertari cazzuola alla mano