Today will be hard to beat.
We went to the town of Como, which was very different from Milan. It is a center for textile manufacturing, which explains our visit to Mantero Seta SpA, a family-owned silk company that does nearly everything from design to screen printing and Inkjet printing for brands including Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Coco Chanel.
I was in awe all day, starting at the point when we saw the towering, luscious mountains of Como. Once inside the Mantero, we went to the archives. I was taken back to my Project Runway-watching days. I was surrounded by literally thousands of samples of the fabrics designed especially for brands like the ones I mentioned above. The archives dated back to the 1970s and included every pattern imaginable. I was fast jealous of the two employees completing computer work in this setting because I could have spent days more in this room alone.
Next, we visited a room full of books of samples of fabrics and sketches of pattern concepts. It was essentially a library of beauty! At the factory, we also observed Chanel scarves being steamed and Louis Vuitton scarves being screen printed. I had never seen screen printing before, so it was really fascinating to observe the process. I was also interested to learn that technology was not even very new or particularly cutting-edge, but still vital to the Mantero. Their business model is dependent upon reliability because they are a supplier to high end brands with impressive reputations. At the end of the tour, we went to the Mantero Outlet pictured below. There items like silk scarves, ties, and dresses were for sale. As Emily pointed out, this was strategic for them as a business to end our tour somewhere we can purchase something!
After the Mantero, Luca herded us back onto the bus and we went to lunch, where I ate a personal margherita pizza and finished the meal with espresso. We took pictures by the STUNNING Lake Como and got gelato. Eating our dessert, we interacted with a group of fellow American tourists from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I realized that I had not really interacted with another American outside from us Pitt students in a while, so this part of the day was surprisingly refreshing.
Last BUT NOT least, we took a walking tour of the city where we saw Duomo de Lago Como. Three interesting facts that I learned were: 1. Saint Christopher’s statue looks out on the water to protect travelers, 2. Statues of both Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder (Roman writers native to Como) are covered in glass because they are both pagans, and 3. it is dedicated to Mary, which can be inferred from her central location on the facade. We also took a boat ride on Lake Como, which was beyond cool. We got stuck in a thunderstorm toward the end, but it only made the experience more memorable.
In all, today was a reminder of how lucky I am to be on this journey. I am looking forward to Florence tomorrow.