FLORENCE, ITALY - 26 OCTOBER 2018: A Broccato fabric, processed in a handloom from the 1700s, that can produce a mere 40 centimeters of fabric a day, is seen here at the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, an ancient silk mill in central Florence, Italy, on October 26th 2018.
The Antico Setificio Fiorentino is a silk mill, located in central Florence within view of the old city walls in the San Frediano neighborhood, that produces the kind of fabrics destined for city palaces and country estates. The mill was bought in 2010 by Stefano Ricci from the Pucci, with an eye to using it to produce fabrics for the launch of a new home collection
Lined up in rows are the dozen looms that take the slender threads, by now dyed emerald and ruby and sapphire, and weave them into the textiles that form a part of the fabric of Florentine life.
Silk was made in the city as far back as the 1300s, a commodity to trade for precious materials. In more recent times, the fabric in the gowns in “Il Gattopardo” and “Death in Venice” came from the mill, as did much of Maris Callas’ wardrobe, robes for Popes, suits for Andre Bocelli, and Nelson Mandela’s silk shirts (when he wore one for his audience with Queen Elizabeth II she reportedly remarked, “that’s a beautiful shirt.”) The carmine red curtains at the Villa Medici and the Tribune of the Uffizi were made here. The Presidential Suite at the city’s Four Seasons Hotel is decked out in the mill’s output, as are the walls of the room of the Czars at the Kremlin, and more than 100 red velvet chairs emblazoned with the Kremlin’s golden crest.
Back hundreds of years ago, in the Renaissance, most noble families had their own looms. But in 1786 the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany took all the looms of the private aristocratic families and put them in one place. They ended up at the Antico Setificio Fiorentino: six of them from the 1700s, hand looms that produce a mere 40 centimeters of fabric a day; they are joined by
- ©2018 Gianni Cipriano
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