The arrival in Switzerland was in the winter of 1964-1965. Philip Rolla lived with Renate first in Pregassona, then in Lugano Besso and later in Vernate, Malcantone. In 1968 they settled on the shores of Lake Ceresio, in Pojana, between Riva San Vitale and Brusino Arsizio, in an old restaurant called “Al San Giorgio”. Phil occupies the garage and turns it into a perfect workshop with all his tools. There, under a parachute canopy, he plunges into the creation of ever more innovative and faster propellers, following his personal instincts of mathematical calculation and manual dexterity. He went so far as to make propellers with eight blades! During this time, he was fortunate enough to make friends with some people from Ticino who helped him understand how to move in an environment that was so new to him: Remo Cattaneo, Carlo Ortelli and Dolf Schnebli, the master architect of reinforced concrete. Philip stayed in Pojana until 1986, when, as a widower, he moved to the old cement factory in the Breggia Valley in Balerna.

Once again, private home and workplace come together. Architect Michael Dolinski renovated the building, separating the two parts while envisioning the company’s future development. In 1988, he moved his private offices to the rear wing. Rolla S.P. Propellers (a name registered in 1983) was operating at full capacity and soon grew to fifty employees.

By 1994, Phil was looking for a new home. Since meeting Rosella Zanardini, the woman who would become his second wife, he preferred to keep the two areas separate. They lived in Castagnola until 1998, in an apartment formerly occupied by Mario Campi, another architect who was important for Phil’s cultural development. Finally, in January 1999, after completing the necessary works, they moved to the former customs house in Bruzella. In a short time it became one of the most beautiful and welcoming home museums.


Rolla Factory 1986 - 2005
Former cement factory - Gole della Breggia Balerna