Wednesday afternoon – meeting Miriam and learning about the silkworm, silk, reviving traditions and metamorphosis was for me (next to the ancestry portion) the highlight of the trip. First of all, I am very interested in the older generation. I feel like they are rich in knowledge and wisdom and I would love to spend my days just sitting with an older person and chronicling their life story. My sister Laura actually did this with my Grandfather on my mom’s side (when he was alive.) He was born in 1902 or 1903. He saw so much innovation in his lifetime and he remembered A LOT. He would send her tapes and she would type it up and send it back for revisions. The result? We all have a book called Grandpa’s Story that is priceless.
Catanzaro has been home to one of the most important silk industries in Europe, once supplying tapestries to the Vatican. A group of youth got together and decided to revive this tradition. It is not an easy feat. The older women in the village used to make their own items with the looms in the home. There were just a few women who went around to the homes and set up the looms for the women. Then they would be set for several months. Miriam (the young girl reviving this tradition) told us that she had a woman who was 86 as her mentor to learn the traditions and the “how” of making the silk items, the dyes, etc. (This woman had just recently passed away.) When Miriam approaches the older women in the village now for help, they are just so thrilled to be able to feel important and like they are helping. This just touched me, to know that these young people care about these older people. I know I’m not saying it all right. But suffice it to say it was very cool.
The silkworm eats Mulberry leaves. He eats the leaves for 28 days stopping once every 7 days to shed his skin due to his fast growth. So at the farm, there are many Mulberry trees and many silk worms. They start out as what looks like a black dot and then they grow exponentially for the next 28 days. Miriam explains it as a metamorphosis. Who else do you know that has undergone a metamorphosis? That’s right – me! Webster’s defines metamorphosis as ” a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.” That just struck home as well. That’s what these past three years have been for me — a complete metamorphosis in body, soul, and spirit.
Below I’ll put some pictures of the silkworm life cycle. Once he spins his cocoon, that is where the silk is. You will see after the photos, Miriam boiling the cocoons to dissolve a glue like substance and then the strands of silk that come from the cocoon. I think I just sat with my mouth open for a lot of these demonstrations. It was all so very cool, yet so very time consuming. Yet these young people want to revive the old traditions which is making the older people in the village proud — it was just a real “feel-good” moment.
There was an entire museum we visited before coming out to the farm that I haven’t even written about. Thankfully my sister did touch on it in her blog so we will have a record of it for posterity sake. I knew the silk worms feasted on the mulberry tree leaf so I had found a quote for my board that was appropriate and Domenico took a great photo of me by the mulberry tree.
I am somewhat in awe of the parts of Italy we are seeing and how so many of the customs are still in place and then here the young people wanting to revive and keep alive past customs. It’s such a simpler way of life than we in the US and we in the US seem to always be anxious and rushed; yet we have so much abundance. This trip is causing much reflection for me.
We began the drive back to Pizzo with our driver taking some side trips to try and find a vista point for us to get a great view and great photos. It was a vista point where you can see two of the three seas that surrounded us.
Laura and I headed to the plaza for supper. Each night we tried something new. This place tonight was recommended to us. I was told they had hamburgers and I was like PROTEIN!!!! I did order the hamburger; I’m not sure it was ground beef. I’m not sure what it was. It was served with a fried egg and no bun (which is fine because I would have taken the bun off anyway.) Interesting though. We enjoyed a drink together.
After dinner, the waitress asked us if she could bring us a limoncello that her husband had made. We both thought it was a dessert. But no, it was this drink pictured above. Later in the evening we found yet another new place to experience a gelato. It was cooler that evening so we walked up a bunch of steep stairs to sit in this space alone.
Before the gelato though, we had seen several little girls dressed up as nuns. We were so trying to figure that out. Someone mentioned Saint Rita. I guess it’s common to have a lot of days there to remember the saints. Before you knew it there was a parade (not sure if that is the correct word) of people chanting in Italian about Saint Rita. I captured a small piece on video. It was all so cultural for me.
A very full day for sure! Off to bed we went!