A figured woven fabric with a pattern visible on both sides, typically used for table linen and upholstery.]
Not exactly the kind of thing you’d risk your life for, right?
The adventure happened a few years ago, but when I went back to Italy in July and drove by the turn to Lorsica, I was reminded of my perilous quest. So here’s a repost of the story. (The photo above is a preview.)
I was scouting locations in the Liguria region of Italy that could be included in a home renovation television show I was art directing. I’d heard from a recent visit to a chair factory there was a damask factory in Lorsica. This region of Italy is historically known for its damask production, so it sounded like a great find. (This is the kind of thing I get excited about.)
For those of you that are scratching your heads wondering what damask is, here’s an example:
Looks familiar, right? It’s now made by machines, but it was originally woven by hand on large looms. Apparently Di Martini Damaschi, in Lorsica, was still weaving damask on a loom from the early 1900’s.
I programmed “Lorsica” into the map on my phone and off I went. If I had been looking at an actual map, I would have seen what I was getting into. Just look at these zigging and zagging roads, which, by the way, are on the side of a mountain.
Relying solely on my GPS, I headed blindly up the mountain.
It turned out to be a one lane, yes, zigging and zagging road with the imposing, craggy mountain on one side and a seemingly five thousand foot drop on the other. With little or no guard rail.
FYI, I stopped the car to take these pictures, just in case you’re wondering.
About every five minutes there was a falling rock sign, which, let’s face it, didn’t help the trepidation I was feeling driving up this mountain.
The hairpin turns around the mountain were so tight that you couldn’t see if someone was coming in the opposite direction. Lucky for me, there was NO ONE coming in the opposite direction.
Wait a minute…why was there no one coming in the opposite direction?
I crawled up the mountain, trying to avoid looking at the drop on my right side. My rental car had this feature where it would “beep-beep-beep” if it got too close to something, which was great if you were backing up into a parking place.
In this case, it just kept beep-beep-beeping all the way up the mountain…because it was so close to the mountain itself.
Every once in awhile there was a makeshift fence along the road, and sometimes even a little guard rail. Somehow, not more comforting.
I finally reached the top and seemed to drive right past the village.
There was no way in.
I pulled over to the side of the road and parked.
I started walking up a path that looked like it might lead to some sort of village. I got to the top and kept wandering. It was like a ghost town. There was no one in sight. No shops, no bars, nothing.
I saw the church. Well, that’s something.
I looked down at the strange crypts alongside the mountain.
Then I saw laundry blowing in the wind. So there was one sign of life.
I walked back the way I had come, and this time I saw a door with a little “Di Martini Damaschi” sign. I knocked but no one answered.
Without really thinking about it, I pushed the door ajar. It opened against a ladder, in a tiny room with two large looms filling the space.
On one of the looms, damask was, indeed, being woven.
It was at that moment that I heard the dogs.
A hair-raising cacophony of snarling and barking sent goosebumps down my spine. There had to be at least five of them, and they were raging and ravenous. Maybe even rabid.
As I ran out the door, I noticed the “ATTENTI AL CANE” sign…beware of dog, or, in this case, dogs.
I ran back down the narrow lane.
I got to my car, still hearing the dogs howling in the distance.
It wasn’t until then that I thought about the fact that I had to drive BACK DOWN.
At that moment, I forgot about the dogs, I forgot about the deserted village, I forgot about the damask…all I could think about was, “I hope my brakes work.”