In Calabria, weaving and lacework have very ancient roots that probably originated in the Far East. Tracing their history in a comprehensive manner is quite difficult, however. The main characteristic of local lacework lies in the extremely thin threads, generally silk or linen. Originally they were so this as to make weaving extremely demanding and time-consuming, since it took a whopping 220 bobbins to make a single centimetre of lace.
Towns where lace is still being manufactured today include: Tiriolo, with its typical “vancale”, a shawl worn by local women over their aprons whose borders are decorated throughout by a type of lace known as “puntina”; Gerace, known for its bobbin and crocheted lace; S. Giovanni in Fiore, which along with Longobucco and Castelsilano produces lace decorated with Greek motifs and flowers clearly inspired by Oriental designs. In the past, this type of lace was made with a particular thread obtained from the fibre of a local plant known as broom.
S. Giovanni in Fiore is also known for a very sophisticated lacemaking technique known as n’cùllerata, a type of tape lace that once adorned the “rituorto”, the folk costume of local women.
Although Calabria has no museums dedicated exclusively to lace, its importance in the region’s local history is evidenced by the numerous exhibitions of local traditional women’s costumes, which were adorned by marvellous lacework.