History of Cashmere

Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fibres in the world, with a rich Italian history. People go crazy for the ultra soft hair and know that the Italians do it best (we’re a little biased). When you purchase cashmere, you're not just buying another scarf or sweater, you're investing in a piece that will last a lifetime.


Origins

Image: istockphoto.com

Image: istockphoto.com

To go back to the beginning, cashmere originated in the Himalayan Mountain Range, primarily in Mongolia, but the goats were eventually brought to other countries around the world. The hair used to weave the wool that makes cashmere is ultra-fine and only found in the under neck and belly area of the goat. It’s guarded by coarser hairs that have to be sifted out when the hair is harvested every spring. To shed light on why the material is so expensive — it takes four years for a cashmere goat to naturally shed enough fine hairs to knit one sweater — making the supply low on an in-demand product.

The super fine goat hair is said to have first been discovered and used by Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani to make a pair of socks for a Kashmir Sultan in the 14th century. The Sultan loved the socks so much Ali Hamadani suggested they make a business out of it.


Cashmere in Italy

Images: Medieval towns in the North of Italy near cashmere country.

As the Asian empire grew, cashmere was traded to western countries with Italy quickly becoming one of the largest makers of the soft wool. The primary use of cashmere throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries was to weave shawls for the most wealthy society members and aristocrats.

Today, because the goat that produces the hair needed to make cashmere originates in Asia, much of the raw material is shipped to Italy where the pieces are manufactured. This is what people look for when purchasing — a “Made in Italy” tag. If you’re in the market for top quality cashmere, there are two countries in the world more renowned than any other — Scotland and Italy. Italy’s spinning and knitting techniques make all the difference and draws a clear line that all cashmere is not created equal.


Most popular kinds of cashmere

Centre Image: Marlene Lee

Making Italian cashmere shawls is an oldie but a goodie because they, along with scarfs and sweaters, are just as popular and in demand today as they were hundreds of years ago. Cashmere was also used to make gorgeous dresses and frocks in the 19th century because of the warm, yet lightweight feel it provided. The luxury of cashmere has stood the test of time and holds even more status today when it’s made in Italy because of the high quality our favorite country is known for!


La Sommità Relais

La Sommità Relais, A Review

La Sommità is a cosy hotel nestled into the famous white town of Ostuni, with the ocean just eight kilometres away. It’s the kind of place you think of when you imagine picturesque Italy — white-washed stone walls, incredible views and, of course, history. So, if you’re headed to the beautiful and very popular “boot” region of Italy known as Puglia, here are four reasons why La Sommità should be your go-to place to stay.


The Views

You can’t come to a coastal town in Italy and stay in a hotel that doesn’t have a five-star view. From La Sommità, you’ll have breathtaking sightlines of the Adriatic Sea without any obstruction. The premium location of La Sommita on the east side of Ostuni gives you the best of both worlds — views of the sea and also of the historic “White Town.”


Intimate Atmosphere

Although the city of Ostuni can more than triple in size during the summer months, you’ll never feel overwhelmed or crowded while staying at La Sommita. The entire resort is only 15 rooms and suites, and they’re all spacious and uniquely decorated. You’ll feel like you’re staying in a home rather than a temporary hotel room.


Wellness Amenities

When you’re not relaxing in your stylish, intentionally calming room, you can indulge in one (or more) of La Sommità's wellness treatments. The spa’s treatments are geared towards psycho-physical reinvigoration, which means both your mind and your body will feel like new after an hour or so of pampering.


Incredible On-Site Food + Wine

After you’re done gazing at unbelievable views from your beautiful room and relaxing at the spa, it’s time to eat a meal fit for royalty. Of course there’s a plethora of wine available to sip on while you eat your meal in an ancient Spanish garden surrounded by orange and olive trees. This might sound like a fantasy, but it’s all real, and La Sommità makes it possible.


La Sommità Relais
Via Scipione Petrarolo 7
72017 Ostuni (BR), Italy

Photography: Marlene Lee & La Sommità Relais

Lois Avery, Best of Italy

Best of Italy, Spring

It is a magical time of year in Italy. The sun warmer, the days longer, and the flowers blooming. There is a lot to cover though, and the differing regions boast an exciting array of climate, atmosphere, and culture. So, book your flights and pack your bags, because here are 5 incredible, and very different, Italian destinations for your Spring 2017 getaway:


Panarea

Hotel Raya, Panarea, Italy

It's likely that you've never heard of this exclusive little island off the coast of Italy, just north of Sicily. It's tiny but incredibly chic; a little over one-square mile, making it about the size of Central Park. If you have heard about Panarea, chances are you know it as a summer destination. During the warmest months, the harbour is lined with yachts, and day-tripping tourists. In our opinion, it's before this summer frenzy that Panarea is at its height: when the whitewashed streets are quiet and you can sit on a balcony of Hotel Raya, sipping Aperol Spritz as you watch the sunset over the volcano Stromboli and the crystal blue Mediterranean. 


Siena

Borgo Santo Pietro, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

A medieval city in the centre of Italy's Tuscany region, Siena is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. just 35 minutes to the Tuscan countryside, it's an ideal location for a weekend trip full of rest and relaxation. A stay at the Borgo Santo Pietro, which is a quintessential picturesque Italian villa, will leave you feeling like royalty. For a true Tuscan lunch, don't miss L'Osteria Le Logge.


Syracuse

Gutkowski, Ortygia, Sicily, Italy

Head way down to Italy's most Southern corner to this authentic Sicilian city, located on the Ionian coast. Syracuse is most famously known for its ancient ruins, which shouldn't be missed. We suggest planning to stay at Gutkowski, a warm and friendly waterfront boutique hotel in Ortygia. If you want to have the best antipasti of your life, don't miss Fratelli Burgio, a wine bar in the market that specialises in delicacies of the region. Yum!


Matera

Corte San Pietro, Sassi di Matera, Matera, Italy

The city of Matera is situated in a carved out canyon, and its ancient town of Sassi di Matera is a stunner featured in many movies. Placed in the centre of Sassi there is a wonderful small hotel, Corte San Pietro, located in a historical building carved into the rock where the rooms face into a lovely courtyard. And just as if it were meant to be, less than a five-minute walk from the hotel you will find the elegant, and delicious, Ristorante Francesca


Monopoli

Don Ferrante Hotel, Monopoli, Italy

While this Monopoli doesn't have a Park Lane or Mayfair, the town on the Ardiatic sea boasts views and streets that are much more charming than the properties in the popular children's game of the same name (albeit with a different spelling). A day spent swimming beneath the ruins of the abbey of Santo Stefano at the stunning Porto Ghiacciolio, a beach club on the bay is well worth it, and for a special hotel, we recommend the charming Don Ferrante Hotel for its roof terrace alone. 


Are your bags packed yet?