From the mainland to the Municipality of Tombolo

The processing of bobbin lace is an ancient technique, widespread throughout Italy and beyond. So ancient that we speak of bone spindles found in Etruscan tombs; so widespread that its origin is contended by several countries of Italy, Germany, France and, of course, of Flanders. What is certain is that the first written testimonies of this art are all Italian and date back to the 15th century. Among many hypotheses, numerous legends and different regional styles and designs, there is the origin of the Mirabellese bobbin: a very special story that speaks of Sicily and of women, of humility and nobility, of countryside, sunny afternoons and baroque influences.

My mother, first supporter of the Moravia project
and precious working of the Tombolo

donne che lavorano il tombolo con una modella che indossa una camicia con i bottoni della collezione moravia

The Bobbin Lace Of Mirabella Imbaccari

During the summer period, in Mirabella, the tinkling of wooden spindles that rub against each other resound in the air. These are the women at work who, seated in front of the door, intertlace threads and human relationships, socialize, confront each other, create exceptional creations, while the hands dance and time flies.

Here the Tombolo is of fundamental importance. It was the beginning of the last century when the young catanese baroness Angelina Auteri, wife of Prince Biscari, decided to give the local women an opportunity for redemption and independence, instructing them to an art that allowed them to make kilts for the own daughters.

These women, used to dedicate themselves to the house and to the work of the countryside, have strong and gnarled hands, not very suitable for embroidery with needles or crochet hooks.

The technique of the Tombolo instead, that Angelina had learned in the College of the Sisters of Santa Dorotea in Rome, was considered the most suitable, with the threads that are handled through the spindles to which they are linked.

Angelina opened the doors of her palace in Mirabella to make it a real artistic laboratory: a place for meeting and socializing, an opportunity for education and cultural exchange. Here the women learned an art that quickly became a trade.

A few years later, in 1910, Angelina called four nuns of the Convent of Santa Dorotea and invited them to move to the village, to help her in a social reality that was turning into a real business activity. The work of the Tombolo was born, in which women worked whole days on the creation of fine items that Angelina promoted in the aristocratic salons of Catania. While the precious outfits with linen and cotton laces in white and ecru entered the noblewomen houses of Sicily, the embroiderers of Mirabella emancipated themselves, conquering for the first time the economic independence.

Over the years the mirabellese tombolo stands out for its elegance and for the peculiar style of its designs, embellished by the influences of Sicilian baroque, becoming one of the most precious lace in Italy and the small town earned the name of “City of the tombolo”.

Today the bobbin embroidery, symbol of a cultural revolution, which gave the women of Mirabella a chance to redeem at the beginning of the 20th century, relives, updated, in the collections of Moravia Paratore.