I’d very much like to welcome Charlotte Betts as my guest author today. Her latest book, The Italian Garden, is set on the shores of beautiful Lake Como.

Nestled in the picturesque Lombardy region of northern Italy, Lake Como is renowned for its stunning landscapes, luxurious villas, and  rich cultural history. This region has been synonymous with high-quality silk production for centuries, a tradition that continues to thrive today.


Historical Roots

The origins of the silk industry in the Como region date back to the 14th century, when the Visconti family, then rulers of Milan, encouraged the cultivation of mulberry trees and the breeding of silkworms. The temperate climate and fertile soil around the Lake were ideal, and laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most important silk-producing areas in Europe. Mulberry trees can still be seen today in the region.


Mulberry Tree from the region

Mulberry tree from the region


By the 16th century, Como had firmly established itself as a leading centre for silk production. The industry grew rapidly, with numerous workshops and factories springing up around the lake. The artisans of Como became famous for their craftsmanship, producing exquisite silk fabrics that were highly sought after by the European elite.

The 18th and 19th centuries marked the golden age of the Como silk industry and technological advancements, such as the Jacquard loom, revolutionized silk weaving. The ability to produce complicated patterns and designs allowed Como’s silk manufacturers to cater to the burgeoning demand for luxury textiles.


Silk Jaquard Loom

Silk Jaquard Loom


The industry provided employment for thousands of people in the region. Families passed down the art of silk weaving from generation to generation, ensuring the preservation of traditional techniques.


Modern Developments

In the 20th century, the silk industry around Lake Como faced numerous challenges, including competition from inexpensive synthetic fabrics and the globalization of textile production. Despite these obstacles, the industry adapted and evolved. Today, due to a combination of innovation and a commitment to tradition, Como remains a world leader in the production of high-quality silk.


Silk Fabrics

Silk Fabrics


Modern technology has been integrated into the production process, but local artisans still use techniques honed over centuries, ensuring that each piece of silk is a work of art. As the world changes, the region’s silk fabrics continue to be sought out by leading fashion houses and designers, a testament to the enduring appeal of luxury and quality.

The silk industry around Lake Como is a rich tapestry of history, tradition, and innovation. From its humble beginnings in the 14th century to its current status as a global leader in luxury textiles, the region has maintained a commitment to quality and craftsmanship and the future of Como’s silk industry looks as bright and vibrant as the fabrics it produces.

To read more about the Silk Museum in Como click here: The Museum of Silk in Como: A Journey Through Time and Craftsmanship


The Italian Garden book cover


The Italian Garden by Charlotte Betts is set in Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como, where the Marchese family made their fortune from silk manufacturing.

Lake Como, 1919.

The garden of Villa Marchese was once a sight to behold. Now, overgrown and unloved, the flowers that once bloomed are nothing but a reminder of the tragic events of Flora Marchese’s death.

When horticulturist Violet Honeywell is commissioned to restore the once exquisite garden, she immediately accepts and sets off from London on a life-changing adventure in Italy.

Violet is enchanted by the Italian way of life, and under the beguiling warmth of the Bellagio sun, she falls in love with a man who can never truly be hers – Flora’s grandson.

But when a discovery at the Lake uncovers buried truths that have haunted the family for decades, Violet starts to delve deeper into the dark secrets of their past, and she quickly begins to realise that not everything in the Marchese family is what it seems . . .

Buy the book here: The Italian Garden by Charlotte Betts


Charlotte Betts Author

Charlotte Betts is a multi-award-winning author of twelve romantic historical novels published by Piatkus. Her books are set in various eras between the Restoration and the Great War and she draws inspiration from the stories of strong women at turning points in history. Careful historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place. Charlotte’s current work in progress is the third of a series of three standalone novels about three different English WWI widows who build new lives in Italy. The second book, The Italian Garden was published inMay 2024.

A member of The Romantic Novelists’ AssociationThe Society of Authors and The Historical Novel Society, Charlotte loves to share her knowledge and has given talks and workshops on writing, both at conferences and to smaller groups.

Charlotte lives in the Royal Borough of Windsor. She enjoyed careers in fashion, interior design and property before discovering her passion for writing historical novels.


Follow Charlotte Betts on:

Website: www.charlottebetts.com

X: @CharlotteBetts1

Facebook Author page: CharlotteBettsAuthor