Marilyn Geary

Journeys Illuminating the Old Ways

Marilyn Geary

2014 April Day24 – Zoagli and San Salvatore


Today we took it easy and sat out on the sunny terrace for the morning.

It felt good to take a break with several cups of coffee from our ez-o-matic.

In the afternoon we took off on foot to find one or both of the silk workshops here in Zoagli. This part of the Ligurian Coast once had silk weavers working on looms in their homes to produce silk velvet fabrics of the finest quality, some sent to the Pope.


We found one of the workshops, the Cordani Seterie di Zoagli, on the via Aurelia, but it was closed. Through the windows we could see two giant looms that took up most of the space in the workshop, but no one was inside. We trekked on to the workshop’s showroom high above the town of Zoagli.

When we finally reached the showroom, we were astounded by its beautiful setting.

Inside we found many silk fabrics, most of which did not appeal much to me. Dott. Canevaro had told us that one of the two silk workshops in Zoagli bought product from China, and that appeared to be the case here.

However, I found a few scraps of handmade velvet in the deepest blue and thought it worth asking the price. At 700 Euro per meter, one little piece cost a bit much. It takes one day to weave 10 inches, so go figure.

Once the customers cleared out, we had the chance to talk with Signora Ornella Cordani about her family’s company and velvet weaving as it exists now in Zoagli.


Signora Cordani showed us very fine velvet weaving and explained that her company owns the only two looms left in the world that produce smooth velvet.

She told us she has one weaver working at home on one of these looms. We mentioned that twenty years ago we had stopped at a silk showroom and been directed to visit a young weaver and her father, from whom we purchased carved olive wood bowls. Signora Cordani said we must have visited her showroom and Rita, the weaver who works for her company. The father just recently died.

Strange to reacquaint ourselves with places and people from twenty years past. We’ve passed many a scampering lizard while here in Liguria. One finally stood still long enough for a photo.

In the evening, Maurizio picked us up in Zoagli and took us to San Salvatore where he lives with Ornella, their two children Alessandro and Monica, and now Ornella’s mother Giuliana. (Ok, how are we related? Ornella’s father, Eugenio, was our grandmother Chiara’s nephew. So go figure.)

Maurizio explained that he and his brother had torn down a building their mother inherited and constructed a new building in 9 months, all after hours. Hard workers. Maurizio and his family live upstairs, brother Luciano and his family downstairs.

Joining us for dinner was: Iolanda, Eugenio’s sister and our grandmother’s niece; Sergio, Ornella’s brother, who lives alone at Camposasco now; Alessandro and Monica, children of Ornella and Maurizio, both chefs; Adele, daughter of the brother of Iolanda’s husband, a zitella, never married; and Giuliana, Ornella’s mother whose diabetes has caused severe health problems affecting her ability to walk.

We were saddened to see how Giuliana had changed in twenty years from a forceful woman of 57 climbing up Monte Penna to an invalid barely able to walk. Recently hospitalized, she will stay with Ornella and Maurizio until her condition improves.

Here she is in her prime front and center when Gene and family visited in 19??…


And here she is today more than 20 years later, with Iolanda, who is 94 years old, on the right. Iolanda lives alone in Camposasco and is doing just fine.


Maurizio and Ornella hosted a fantastic dinner, with an antipasto plate of prosciutto and other meats….Ornella’s homemade pesto sauce to die for…


cinghiale, wild boar hunted by Maurizio…

Maurizio proudly showed us his hunting cabinet..


Then the Russian salad made by Maurizio himself…Mamma Mia!


And the mocha torte made by Ornella and the grappa and hawthorn berry liquor made by Maurizio…


When he wanted to ask a question, Alessandro looked up the words using Google Translate.

The food was great, but best of all was seeing the love that sustains this family. As Ornella says, “It oozes from our pores.” We felt very fortunate to receive some of their love and attention this wonderful evening.


Tomorrow they will take us to Camposasco to visit where our grandmother was born and raised.


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