Italian Tips

Silk City

Traditions of Lake Como

Did you know that the Lake Como area was known for its silk production?

Until the end of the 1980’s, the economy of Como was primarily on industry; in particular, the city was world famous for its silk manufacturers. For a long time, the city was in competition with China and Japan but starting in the mid-1990s, due to the reduced profit margins from Asia, many small and mid-sized firms in Como went out of business and focused on the service industry sector afterwards focusing on tourism.

Il distretto della seta di Como regge, ma pesa la 'questione tracciabilità'
Silk items from Lake Como


Starting in 1400, Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, decided to plant mulberry trees around Lake Como to feed the silkworms. Since silkworms produce silk only when they are fed mulberry leaves, this industry took off. many factories were established and silk prodcution became increasingly refined, leading to a rapid economic growth of the territory, in particular for the City of Como and Cernobbio.

In 1869, the silk industry had a boost thanks to the foundation of the famous ‘setificio’ Paolo Carcano – a 5 star school for craftsmen which had the prpose of training the most talented silk masters in all of Italy. over time, silk from Lake Como gained popularity to the point of exceeding China and Japan’s production.

Paolo Carcano’s Institute – photo from

Silk manufacturing bloomed all along the Eastern shore of Lake Como as well. Silk spinning and throwing mills, powered by rivers and water streams, were built in many towns and villages. Pietro Monti, member of a family of silk throwsters from Southern Lombardy, moved to Abbadia Lariana in 1818. There, he built a silk mill, hosting a big circular throwing machine. The Monti’s silk factory preserved most of its original features and become the “Civico Museo Setificio Monti” in 1998.

Do you want to learn more?

For the upcoming season 2024, our expert staff at the Experience Department, will be presenting a complete tour proposal that includes a round trip train ride from Varenna to Abbadia Lariana and a guided tour of the town’s Silk Museum. There, you will learn all about the history of silk, the production process, and its culture.

Civico Museo Setificio Monti ad Abbadia Lariana - Discovery Lecco
Museo Civico Setificio Monti

Finally, our Boutique carries silk items for you and your loved ones. If you are searching for an exclusive item that is locally made and particular of this area, don’t look any further! Come on by and be astonished by the creativity and beautiful graphics used.

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