Sometime between the taxi driver careening the wrong way down a one-way street and his veering at the last minute to avoid a silver-haired octogenarian on a bicycle, I took my own eyes off the road. I was here to meet my last scarf manufacturer. And with the grace of God I might actually get there.

 Street in Lake Como

Street in Lake Como

Scarves in Bellagio

Scarves in Bellagio

Como, with its palm trees and snowy mountains, is the heart of Italy’s scarf and tie manufacturing industry. The centuries-old industry is dominated by small and mid-sized family-owned manufacturers. These businesses typically have been passed down for generations.

During my trek I had met with some of the “larger” manufacturers, companies with 40 or 50 employees. The Italians are very proud of their traditions, and each of the artisans proudly displays his company’s scarves – a never-ending spectacle of beautiful designs in brilliant hues.

The Italians use the most exquisite fabrics. Dyes are Economic Union approved and the industry is strictly regulated to protect against polluting with waste products. In Como, the yarns are spun, dyed and woven, and then are cut, sewn and packaged.

Italy’s industries are strictly regulated. Each worker is guaranteed a 4- to 5-week vacation each year, and receives health coverage and other benefits. Most have worked within the same business for a lifetime.

Artistically, these craftsmen are influenced by the beauty of Italy: the brilliant hues of the foliage, the architectural and natural beauty of the area, and perhaps most of all a passion for the craft. They are often working in the same business their grandfather or great-grandfather started.

That day, my last in Como and the last with my driver – who had cursed vociferously throughout the journey – we came to a sudden and violent stop. During the last few days, I had become accustomed to this and didn’t look up immediately, until I heard the sounds of roosters crowing and sheep bleating. When I finally raised my eyes, though, I saw the last scarf maker, surrounded by his family in a field of animals. They smiled, waved happily to me, and welcomed me inside to see their beautiful wares.

 Lake Como

Lake Como

The colours of spring in Italy

The colors of spring in Italy

 Spring blossoms in Lake Como

Spring blossoms in Lake Como