There is a light rain and a nip in the breeze as I step out onto the slippery cobble stone alley that has become, in a sense, my street. I’m on my way to the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, an ancient silkmaking factory and a point of pride for Florence. It is tucked away in a quiet garden setting, at the end of an unexpected driveway lined with plants and ivy. At the gate, I ring the bell, summoning a woman who lets me in with a smile. She leads me to the showroom: the only part open to the public. As I pass I can hear the sounds of the shifting looms inside the factory.