Have you ever thought how much landscape tells of ourselves? If you stop and observe it will reveal you a lot in terms of history. Landscape takes evidence of the past. Some months ago I was pleased to visit a small museum in the neighborhood of my home. The “Museo dell’Arte Serica e Laterizia” located in Malo, in the Vicenza Province (Italy), is dedicated to the silk and brickwork. This surprising museum exists from 1994 thanks to the great job of some volunteers. It is a witness of an unforgettable historical and social heritage. An amazing way for the interpretation of our land, our origins and family background. I decide to come back and dedicate an article to this the silk section.
The location and the visit of the museum of “Arte Serica e Laterizia“
The museum is located in the roof floor of Corielli Palace, a 18th century dwelling house standing next to the homonymous spinning factory remained in force till 1962. The visit takes around 1 hour and it goes through some important themes: the silkworm rearing, the cultivation of mulberries, the machineries and equipment needed in the silk production process, the work and the social aspects related to it.
My visit to the museum
Still here! Two huge pictures are on my right and left side. The lens focuses on the town of Malo, today and in the past. Only half a century has past and the landscape has changed irreversible. Something catches my attention. Mulberries have almost disappeared and there’s a growing overbuilding.
Why mulberries have almost completely disappeared from our landscape? Simply they are not needed anymore! Mulberry sheets were the delicious food for the silkworm, which creates its cocoon from very long silk fibres. A lot of documents produced in that years witnesses the importance of the silk industry in that period of time. Silk industry moves far away and memories of suggestive landscapes too.
The silk industry and the related social aspects
The topic highleted during the visit which is mostly striking to me is the social one. People employed in the silk industry were 90% woman. The “scopine” (women using a small brush) used to prepare cocoon in boiling water. Other collected silkwarn foam to get the silk thread.
Most of them woke up at dawn, and walked miles and miles before arriving to the place of work. During the 10 hours working day they were not allowed to talk each other. So they tuned popular songs or recited the Rosary.
Every production step, quality checks as well, was done by women with the exception of machinery and water acidity control which was a male task.
From the silk industry sunset until today
One after the other all the silk factories in Malo area had to succumb to the foreign competition. Most of the workers found a job in the new factories (mostly related to the wool production) of Schio and Valdagno. Some others moved to some other regions.
Corielli Palace hosts today several associations, the Mondonovo Museum and the town library. The Corielli spinning factory was renovated and converted into a residential and commercial place which keeps memory of a glorious period of time.
A successful product selling is often connected to its narration and past can add a value to the product itself. As for the product telling, territory needs to tell its story and past to increase its value and become more attractive.
- the museum is open on Sunday from 3 to 6pm
- entry to the museum is free
- you may need half an hour more if you wish to visit the brickwork part and the Mondonovo Museum
- there is no English explication in the museum, so if you need to have some translated material please contact the museum before your arrival
- if you are interested in other small museums of our territory go to