Catanzaro, the capital city of Calabria, Italy was for many years know as the Silk Capital of the world. Legend has it that two merchants via the Silk Road brought over Silk from China and after many years Catanzaro was the place where the price of Silk was decided for the entire world!
Circa the 1450's Silk weaving was a hobby that only the rich and noble families of Calabria were knowledgable enough to create. During the Byzantine conquest of the fallen Roman Empire, the coasts of Calabria were ravaged by pirates who robbed the cities of their treasures. Many people were kidnapped and brought back to the capital of the Byzantine Empire Constantinople as slaves. (Today’s Istanbul)
One day, in the small coastal village of Cariati in Calabria, a pirate kidnapped a young girl Laura and brought her back to Constantinople. As Laura was a poor village girl, no one paid the ransom for her return. Thus, she was forced to stay in Constantinople as a slave for the Byzantines.
When the emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos saw young Laura, he was struck by her beauty. The Emperor offered Laura to live with him in his palace as royalty and she accepted. During her years in Constantinople, Laura learned to read and write, she also learned the art of Silk weaving.
With the Emperors death and the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453 Laura was asked if she wanted to continue to live in the palace she inherited or if she wanted to return home. Laura decided to return home to her people in Cariati, Calabria, Italy.
Laura left Calabria as a poor village girl and returned as royalty. She devoted the rest of her life to her people. She soon taught all the children in her village to read, write, and weave Silk fabrics. We notice even into the present day, the traces of Arabic designs in Calabrian textile and other artistic products.
This is just a small example of how Calabria’s culture was formed by many people throughout the Mediterranean and the world. Even though Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy is no longer the Silk capital, Calabria still has Silk and other excellences that are world renowned, and Made in Calabria is here to showcase these excellences to the world.
View our masterpiece "The Silk Nun" on our website by clicking here