Mendicino : silky memories

At the foot of the mountain, built in the heart of Calabria and above the sea, rises the small town of Mendicino. Less than 10 000 inhabitants live in this town ideally located in the South of Italy. Its particularity? A local textile tradition gave birth to a local institution: the Museo della Seta.
In the 19th century, Mendicino itself was a focal point of the Calabrian silk production. Over forty mills were spreading over this small territory, and almost all families were involved in the various stages of silk production. In 1857, no fewer than 320 women, 30 men, and 120 children were working twelve hours a day in the deafening and suffocating atmosphere of these plants. For the local population, silk was then at the heart of life but the crisis – coupled with the skyrocketing growth of the global market for fabrics such as wool and cotton – changed everything: mills went closing down one after the other. Silk production, once the spearhead of the village economy, turned into a sole heritage symbol. Today, it still constitutes a fundamental element of memory for the local community, its history and identity.
At the Museo della Seta in Mendicino, trinkets, tools, and written and photographic material – all valuable evidences of the local spinning and customs of the Calabrian sericulture – contribute to the narration of this industrial archeology. They tell and relive a past story of when silk was undoubtedly one of the main characters, and describe carefully the various stages of the precious filament’s production process. Recognizing the memorial value of sericulture, the city of Mendicino completes the action of its Silk Museum by working on the restoration of two local mills, and organizing a “celebration of silk” cultural event in the glory of collective memory’s pillar.