Isola Maggiore – Lake Trasimeno, first half of the twentieth century
The last room of the virtual museum is dedicated to a typical Umbrian lace, the IRISH POINT of the Isola Maggiore, on Lake Trasimeno. To create this kind of lace a crochet hook and a very thin cotton thread are necessary. It was introduced into the island by the marquise Elena Guglielmi in 1904, in line with a series of efforts all over Italy to revive the ancient traditions of feminine works such as bobbin and needle lace.

Working directly on Irish patterns, under the guidance of the teacher of the island, Elvira Tosetti De Santis (who used to read excerpts from the Gerusalemme Liberata while working), the small community of lace makers soon grew to involve the entire island (in 1904 there were only 9 girls, 20 in 1906).

The scene takes place inside the sixteenth-century Palazzo delle Opere Pie - restored in 2000 by the Comunità Montana Monti del Trasimeno – that houses the Lace Museum of Isola Maggiore, where it is possible to admire a large exhibition of prestigious objects.

Inside, three lace makers are working with the crochet hook in front of the open door which lets the daylight in, while around them there are samplers, patterns and completed lacework. In the meantime, the bread has just been taken out of the oven and the fishing nets have been hung out to dry at the back of the lobby (which was probably also a boathouse).nto Burano del 1750.
  • Among the numerous catalogues and manuals of the D.M.C. Library, belonging to the homonymous thread factory, there is one dedicated to “Irish lace” dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, where twelve types of nets are illustrated: from rosettes to small flowers, from leaves to bunches of grapes, with a definite predominance of floral motives, such as the characteristic rosettes and square or rounded stars that, once assembled, created several different types of decorations. (M. Letizia Bittoni, Pro-loco Isola Maggiore di Tuoro sul Trasimeno (PG) (edited by), "Il Merletto a punto Irlanda ad Isola Maggiore", Tuoro sul Trasimeno, 1995, pp.6-7).
  • The first crochet lace was very easy to make; later, it became much more complicated with the addition of new types of interweave and more complex and articulate patterns, arriving to convincingly imitate ancient needle lace. It was particularly in Ireland that this lace developed and achieved a specific typology that made it very famous also outside the country of origin. (Teresita e Flora Oddone, Lavori Femminili, Milan, 1911, p.31).
  • "The night was dark, the lake bleak… gusts of impetuous wind, flashes of lightning… The lake was deserted and deserted was the shore; only a humble friar, in the melancholy of the dusk, was rapping at the door of a modest house in Passignano, humbly asking a fisherman to take him to the nearby Isola Maggiore, in that dark night. And his plea… convinced the fearful fisherman…The friar was holding a lighted candle … some bread, and his faith in his hands. They arrived at the Isola Maggiore late at night; and on the deserted island the friar lived forty days and forty nights alone with his prayers. … He left on the lake shore, on a rock, where maybe one day he rested his tired foot, the impression of his body. The friar was St. Francis of Assisi; and the year 1200; since that day the island began to become populated…". (Bice Bittoni, Isola Maggiore (Lago Trasimeno) in AA.VV., Le Industrie Femminili Italiane, Milan, 1906, pp.183-184).
  • This lace technique was introduced into the island in the first years of the twentieth century by Elena Guglielmi, daughter of the marquis Giacinto Guglielmi, who founded a school for the daughters of the fishermen of the island, who were already skilled in weaving fishing nets and could easily learn the delicate technique of crochet lace. "… All of them hold in their hands the thin and pointed small needle; the very thin thread is knotted and woven, creating the fine, appreciated Irish lace". Mrs Guglielmi also supplied the young women working in the school with a Savings Bank deposit account that could be used to keep their earnings and their dowry. (Bice Bittoni, Isola Maggiore (Lago Trasimeno) in AA.VV., Le Industrie Femminili Italiane, Milan, 1906, pp.185-186).
  • The first crochet lace appeared in Ireland around the mid eighteenth century as an imitation of seventeenth-century Venetian lace. It was used also to trim clothing items and home linens and, for a long time, this lace remained confined in the domestic crafts of the regions of Dublin e Belfast; later, around 1900, its production was expanded to France, Austria and Germany too. (G. Montecucco Rogledi, L'uncinetto nella casa. Guida pratica e visiva per eseguire coperte, tovaglie, centri e cuscini, Milan, 1972, p.39).
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