Along with stunning landscapes, amazing gardens and medieval villages, silk manufacturing is another main reason that made Lake Como famous all over the world. Silk from Lake Como is indeed very well known for its quality and elegance, which made it one of the most exported products of the latest century. Want to know more? Here you will discover what lies behind this unique fabric, and also some places for buying silk in Lake Como.
Como silk – A bit of history
In 1400 Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, had a brilliant idea: planting mulberry trees around Lake Como, to the delight of local greedy silkworms. That was the moment when Lake Como’s silk industry started to arise: many factories were established and silk production became increasingly refined, leading to a rapid economic growth of the territory (especially in the cities of Como and Cernobbio).
In 1869, the silk industry had a boost due to the foundation of the famous setificio Paolo Carcano: a “5-star” school for craftsmen which had the purpose of training the most talented silk masters in all of Italy. Over time, silk from Lake Como gained so much popularity that, in 1972, its production exceeded that of China and Japan.
From the silkworms to the scarves
Lake Como’s silk is very appreciated in the creation of elegant evening dresses, scarves, ties and accessories for a really chic look. Silk manufacturing requires indeed a number of stages where even the smallest step is critical to get a really classy product.
From breeding silkworms to twisting, hoarding, weaving, and finally dyeing, printing and finishing, the entire process is quite long. And people have to work as a team. That’s the reason why many factories were built, each one with a specific role in the complex production of Como’s silk.
As for the creation of a work of art, even silk manufacturing doesn’t only require technique, precision and manual skill, but also great passion and the clear understanding that certain goals can be achieved only through the contribution of all.
Some places for admiring (and buying!) silk in Lake Como
Lovers of Como’s silk have a wide range of possibilities to satisfy their curiosity (or gratify their vanity, depending on the case). If you are intellectually engaged, and your interest in silk is purely academic, you will want to head to the Lake Como Silk Museum, that collects proofs and objects about the extraordinary universe of silk production. Another must-see is the Antonio Ratti Foundation, which houses a unique collection of fabrics accompanied by stories about silk’s history and iconography.
Instead, if you just love wearing Italian silk scarves and clothing, then you have probably heard of famous brands like Mantero, Ratti, Clerici, and Frey.
Mantero was founded in 1902 and is still one of the top silk brands in the world; its historic factory is in Grandate (15 minutes drive away from Como’s city center), where you can also find its outlet that gathers a collection of fine clothes and accessories for women and men. Frey is another historic brand (it was founded in 1899) which aims to spread the real “Made in Italy” throughout the world; you can find its products in Fino Mornasco, Cernobbio and Bellagio. Clerici and Ratti, who were founded respectively in 1923 and 1945, have outlets too but they’re quite far from Lake Como (the first one in Milan and the other in Guanzate).
If you are in the city center of Como and don’t have the chance to move by car, I’d suggest you to see a couple of shops that really deserve a visit: A. Picci and In Seta, two famous places where you can buy silk scarves, ties, clothes and accessories. What is better than feeling a soft memory of your holidays on your skin?