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Pietro Vassena

Pietro Vassena was born in Malgrate (Lecco) on April 21, 1987.

Still very young, in his early twenties, he discovered a certain talent in conceiving and putting into practice small inventions, an attitude that will prove to be of fundamental importance for the whole of his future life. Vassena establishes his creative workshop in Lecco, in the central Cavour street, where he spends almost all his days planning creations, some of considerable importance, which will also allow him to receive an honorary degree in engineering. Soon his lake, the lake where he was born, ended up infecting it, which allowed him, over the years, to build the myth and the legend of the “motonaut”.

In fact Vassena designed the first off-board marine engines and, in 1930, he experimented and patented the very special skivass system, an ingenious technological-sport proposal halfway between skis and canoes; thanks to which, said the promotional launch, anyone would be able to “walk on water”. Off-board engines, light motorcycles and ski for walking on water were the most interesting achievements of the time.

Submarine C3

However, the inventor Pietro Vassena became famous all over the world thanks to a craft submarine built in 1948 with his own means, enthusiasm, found brilliant and also a good dose of healthy unconsciousness: a submarine that will call C3. He studied there since, in 1945, during the war, he was locked up, together with other industrialists in Lecco, in the “Collegio” of Lecco in Ghislanzoni street. Here in the classroom / cell number 3 took shape in the mind and then on paper the new project. And the name of his future creature could only be C3 – (cell number 3). And so, in February 1948, the C3 was ready to leave the workshop in Cavour street for the first tests in the dock of Canottieri Lecco.

World record

Everything went smoothly and on 12 March 1948, with a legendary expedition, off Argegno, where Lake Como is deeper, Vassena with Calolziocorte submariner Nino Turati, descended to -412 meters setting the world record of depth. The news went around the world. To the point that the Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard (1844-1962) wanted to know personally that inventor who had succeeded so much by challenging the laws of physics and anticipating the navy of the great powers (including the US).

But the story of Pietro Vassena and his C3 did not last long because on 20 November ’48, off Capri, during a further attempt to descent, unmanned, due to an error in maneuvering of the personnel of the Navy involved in the windlass that was spinning the cable, to which the submarine was anchored, the C3 sank into the despair of its inventor forever. The achievements of Vassena who obtained the best commercial results were however in the motor field; among these we mention: two-cylinder engines for the Volpe car first and for the Moto Rumi then, Bicimotore Faini of 1923, the futuristic “Automotoscooter” of the early 50s.

Piertro Vassena died on 21 May 1967, with a long list of patents behind him.

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