Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole

Lake Maggiore West Bank

Those driving to Mottarone or Orta San Giulio (for Lake Orta) from Stresa could stop in Gignese (8km from Stresa) for the intriguing Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole. Regional artisans once made a living from handmade parasols and umbrellas, and later small-scale industrial production.

The parasol became an indispensable part of ladies’ fashion in the mid-19th century, as Romanticism dictated that my fair lady had indeed to be fair. This passion for pallor wore off only from the 1920s onwards. The museum has more than 1000 items, of which only a part is on show. Starting with tiny parasols from the 1850s, the gamut runs to more modern umbrellas up until about the time of WWII. It is startling what work once went into these items, with carved ivory handles, printed silk covers and intricate lace decoration for fancier ones.

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