The two most important events in the history of lacemaking in Basilicata, are the inauguration of the Reale Istituto delle Gerolomine nunnery in Potenza in 1844 and that of the Bencivenga orphanage in Sand Chirico Raparo in 1817, where young orphan girls were provided shelter and the hope of a future free from ignorance and perdition.
In these institutes, under a climate of rigid moral control, young women were educated in various disciplines in science and the humanities, but most of all they learned traditional weaving and lacemaking techniques, quickly becoming veritable artists.
Established with the intent to protect and educate children at risk, these institutes soon took on an entrepreneurial aspect as well, given the skill and fervour with which the young girls dedicated themselves to weaving: in fact, they received orders for bridal dowries on the part of wealthy local families, and their prized wares were also sold at local trade fairs.
Also worth mentioning is the extensive production of lace that was meant to decorate vestments, votive images, and bedding sets without any commercial purpose.
Some evidence of these intensive artisanal activities remains to this day here and there in Basilicata, such as in Latronico, where lace is still manufactured today, using a highly distinctive technique known as puntino ad ago and registered by the municipal administration as a collective brand known as “puntino ad ago di Latronico”. This complex technique, a variation of classical filet lace, does not require a loom, and makes it possible to obtain elegant decorations for clothes and linens.