The Best of Lake Como Part 2: Shopping for Silk
July, 25 2016 ( Updated August, 09 2017)
Shopping on vacation is more often about new experiences than simply about buying new things. Whether we plan it or not, shopping always finds a place in our travel itinerary. It could be shopping for something that is unique to the destination or one of the specialties of the place. But how often do we select a destination on the basis of the shopping options it offers? For instance, the Lake Como region, an extremely popular tourist destination, is often associated with incredible natural resources and beauty, but very few know that it is also the Silk capital of Italy. In fact, it is Como and not Milan which produces 70% of Europe’s silk and is, therefore, the best place for silk shopping.
The history of the production of silk and clothes made from silk in the region goes back to the middle ages, but more specifically to the 18th century when Como began dominating the industry. Legend has it that the first silk cocoons were smuggled in Italy by two Persian merchants disguised as priests from China in bamboo canes.
Thanks to the favourable climate in the region, Como soon became the center of the silk industry in Europe. However, silk breeding stopped after World War II, but their weaving, colouring and tailoring are still done here. One can find factories and boutiques, mostly family owned, which produce fine silk that you can buy and take home with you.
What to expect?
Some of the big designer names like Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St Laurent, Versace, Chanel, Ferre, Armani, Hermes and Valentino rely on Como silk. The list of clientele includes celebrities and important personalities like Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton. You can shop for designer labels as well as those without them at favourable prices. In fact, silk designed by local aspiring artists are worth trying for their favourable prices as well as experimental patterns. On your shopping expeditions, you should definitely try silk ties, scarves, tailored blouses, shirts and silk accessories. The best place to buy silk in the Lake Como region is Bellagio where you can find factory produce at great bargain prices. There are a number of beautiful boutiques located very close to the water edge which deals exclusively in silk fabric and accessories and makes for a nice shopping experience.