IT - 23821 Abbadia Lariana (LC); Italy
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Silk is one of the ancients fibre, already used , following Chinese tradition, from the XVII century B.C. For centuries, till 300 A.D., China kept the secrets of silkworm breeding and silk production. Greeks and Roman had known silk fabrics, that came in Europe following the "silkway", a caravan route which connected China to Byzantium; but they weren't able to produce silk. Chinese monopoly of silk ended during the VI century A.D., when two monks, sent to the East Empire by Emperor Justinian, stole some eggs of silkworm and some seeds of mulberry tree. Silk culture had been introduced in Italy by the Norman King of Sicily Ruggero XII in 1146; during the XII and XII centuries, Italy became the most important silk center of the West. By the 13th century,the silk worked in the province of Como has been among the most valuable silk in the world. In the late 19th century, China, Japan, and Italy were the major producers of silk. 1818 Pietro Monti, a throwster, came to Abbadia Lariana From Milan. He transformed the old building for felting wool into a place for the production of silk, with two big circulare spinning machines. In 1869 he enlarged the building and he added a new one for the silkworm breeding and the spinning of cocoons. The first of the two spinning machines was demolished and in its place were built three rectangular spinning machines, that still exist . From the first half of XX century the introduction of synthetic fibres, more resistant and cheaper, has caused a strong reduction in silk production. Also in Abbadia, throwing activity lasted until 1934. The Monti factory closed. The surviving circular spinning machine was bought by the Abegg family, who in 1965 dismantled it and offered it to the Technorama Museum of Winterthur (Switzerland). After a period of standstill and degradation, in 1978 the town council of Abbadia Lariana bought the building and all the stuff that were still remaining inside. The works of restoration started in 1981. They involved not only the buildings but also the circular spinning machine of 1818, that can still work. In 1998 the “Civico Museo Setificio Monti” was finally opened. The museum is composed by the Monti complex, that consist in two buildings; the Throwing factory, that still houses the spinning machine of 1818, and the spinning mill, built in 1869. No original machines were preserved in the spinning mill, while in the other building there were still the three rectangular spinning machines and the circular spinning machine was preserved for about a 15%. This one is a four-storey machine, and it is 11mt. high and 5mt. large, perfectly working. The Museum preserve also the ruins of some auxiliary machine, and it also hosts a rich collection of machineries , through which visitors can follow the main production steps: worm breeding, cocoon unwinding and silk twisting. All the stuffs displayed in the museum come either from the Monti's Factory or from other spinning mills once existing in the area. Outside, there are also two hydraulic wheels, with the ruins of the irrigation ditch. Only the bigger wheel is now restored, while restoration workings are still going on in order to re-establish the irrigation ditch.