August 09

Lake Como Silk

Culture/Tradition by Marion Mollenhauer

Already in the 16th century large mulberry-plantings were created in the Brianza southward Como and the silkworm-breeding started. Around 1750 in Como and its surroundings about 250 spinning mills were producing silk. During the next hundred years silk became the most important export product of Lombardy. When disease and vermin affected the mulberry trees and silkworms the production stalled and raw silk was imported and processed from the Asian countries China and Japan. Over the centuries Como had the reputation to be the “Metropolis of Silk” because to date one quarter of all silk in the world is produced at Lake Como. About 400 silk weaving mills and scores of companies specialized into silk coloration and printing stand in Como and its surroundings. Lake Como Silk is not only exported to European countries but also to the U.S.A., Russia and additionally to China. Every year in September the “Idea Como”, which is classified as the major silk-fair in Europe takes place in Como.
An insight into the history of the silk production delivers the silk museum in Via Castelnuovo, Como: “Museo didattico della Seta di Como”. Here you can visit many antique machines, looms, chemical tools and historical documents.

Silk was also produced and is still produced to date in the surrounding of Lecco at Lake Como. Not long since the Council of Europe named the old trade route between Lecco and Varenna the “European Silk Road”. In 1818 an ancient tuck mill for woolen material in Abbadia Lariana was developed to a silk mill. A while ago the big twisting-machine was overhauled and the old buildings were restored and shelter also a silk museum today. The first silk converting museum came into being in 1953 in an antique spinning mill in Garlate. In 1976 the owners assigned the museum to the community.
You can find modish silk products everywhere at Lake Como. One of the largest specialist stores for all sorts of silk articles resides in an historical factory building in Viale Roosevelt, Como.

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