In one of Naples’ dusky alleyways is a little umbrella factory that puts others in the shade. It was 150 years ago that Achille Talarico opened his workshop on Via Trinità degli Spagnoli. His workers crafted handles of ivory, silver and majolica, fastening them to canopies of pure silk for an aristocratic clientele. A regular supply of tortoiseshell fans wafted their way to the Royal Palace.
Achille’s son Giovanni and his wife opened a new workshop in 1924 in the Vico Due Porte a Toledo, where the ancient workbench may still be seen. Their baby son Mario napped in a drawer near his mother’s sewing machine and would eventually preside over umbrella production. A further generation of nephews stands ready to continue the tradition.
Do go to admire these handmade silk umbrellas with cherry, chestnut or sugar cane handles as well as the more workaday versions. You may meet some of Talarico’s somewhat elite clientele, like these splendid gentlemen encountered the day we visited, seen here with Mario Talarico himself.