The Silk Road and its link to Lake Como | Aquadulza Culture
The Silk Road to Lake Como
In modern times this historic route has revived due to the importance of trade between Asian powers and in particular the European market, but in reality its origins go back to very ancient times.
In fact, silk takes us back to the footsteps of Marco Polo, along the famous Silk Road that, with slow caravans, led from the Mediterranean to distant China via the stations of Iran that dominated the market. Not only sumptuous textiles, ivory and gold, camphor, and spices passed along this route, but also artistic influences and stories passed down to the present day.
Silk in Italy
The veterans of the First Crusade, with their eyes full of the wonders of the East, brought to Italy not only carpets and valuables, but also and above all a taste for a more sumptuous life. Silk soon became its emblem and the technique for possessing it a gift to the city.
In the 12th century, silk landed in Sicily with the Arabs, and after two centuries, there is news of the existence of three thousand looms in the Lucca area: in fact, mulberry trees became part of the landscape in Lunigiana, Valdinievole and Pistoia. The silk guild becomes so important that Cosimo de' Medici, in the fifteenth century, gives it a palace.
The sixteenth century is the century of its greatest splendor: Catherine de' Medici is its ambassador to the French court, while all the greatest families in Florence (including the Pitti) trade precious silks throughout Europe. The Genoese, on the other hand, as navigators and merchants of silk throughout the world, brought the first factories to France and to the court of King Louis XI, who was immediately amazed by the beauty of precious silk cloth woven in gold.
Then in the eighteenth century, damasks, brocades, velvets and ribbons from Piedmont are known everywhere, which will endure until the threshold of the twentieth century, only to yield to the supremacy of Como.
Como, Silk Capital of the World
Silk was born in China, Brazil, Korea, and India but was reborn and ennobled in Como. Before the eighteenth century the Larian town was Lombardy's wool capital and Milan's silk capital. The Spanish dominance with a system of internal duties decreed the end of the silk industry in Milan, which thus moved to nearby Como. Here the ferment of capable and passionate weavers and new forces from Switzerland and even northern Europe came together in perfect symbiosis. Como silks soon dominated the markets of the Habsburg empire: in 1733 a public document attested that 2500 of Como's 14,000 inhabitants were employed in silk manufacturing (almost 20 percent of the entire population!).
In the middle of the nineteenth century, when cocoon production in Como had incredibly increased and the number of spinning mills multiplied, a series of concomitant negative events put an end to the first era of Como silk: in fact, almost simultaneously, an epidemic disease of the silkworm, competition from the new cotton processing, and the beginning of the presence on the markets of Asian raw silks overlapped. Even amidst a thousand difficulties, the Como people managed to re-emerge, as they understood that they had reached, thanks precisely to silk, the heights of international fame and certainly did not intend to abdicate.
The Como silk today
At the Paris exposition of 1876, Como silk constituted a major attraction due to the refinement of taste and workmanship, and at the dawn of the twentieth century the province of Como owned more than half of the silk looms operating in Italy.
When mulberry trees and silkworms disappeared after World War II, tradition played an important role by opening a new chapter for the Como silk industry. In Como, in fact, silk is transformed into inimitable fabrics, qualified by gradually more complex prints. Silk therefore today more than ever is synonymous with charm and legend: a dream that has the lightness and brightness of the thread woven by the laborious silkworm.
Aquadulza is the natural continuation of these centuries-old traditions that have given rise to a unique and innovative project where the beauty of the Lake Como area unites with the textile excellence of the district.
Discover all our products in the online store and buy now an elegant silk fashion accessory that will allow you to travel through time along the silk route.
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