Silk production began in the Como area around 1400, mainly thanks to Duke Ludovico Sforza who imposed mulberry tree cultivation to the farmers. This initiative gave him the title of Ludovico il Moro, which comes from the name of the mulberry plant, which in Latin is “bombix mori” and in Como’s dialect “murun”. Even nowadays, the mulberry tree leaf is still the only food for the silkworm, which for thousands of years has completed its vital cycle becoming a precious cocoon from a minuscule egg.
From the beginning of the tenth century the farmers produced silk in springtime to improve their low incomes and women and children were in charge of gathering and cutting mulberry leaves to feed the tiny worms. Once the worm has stopped growing, it begins to produce a very thin thread in which it wraps itself, creating the cocoon in which it transforms into a butterfl y. The last part of the process must be interrupted in order to unwind the cocoon and obtain a single thread of about 1500 meters that is then joined with other strings to achieve the right strength. From this moment onwards begins the transformation of the silk into a fabric, and above all the creation of the design that makes each silk unique, and the reason why the city of Como in famous worldwide. Still today Como, with its silk district, is considered the world’s silk capital.
The raw silk thread, however, is imported from China and Brazil, and numerous weavers, printing offices and silk factories in Como transform it into scarves, ties, dresses and designer accessories for the most important designer-labels in the fashion world that come to Como to choose exclusive designs for their fashion houses.
The social and economic importance that silk has had in the Como area can be explained by visiting some interesting museums which tell the story of this precious product and its various phases of production