To make the colony economically independent, the king promoted the production and manufacture of silk, establishing a silkworm farm and a weaving factory. Following principles that are quite radical even by today's standards, the king endowed the colony -- with the help of his liberal minister Bernardo Tanucci -- with completely innovative laws and organization. Education was obligatory and free from the age of 6 up, and only those skilled in their jobs were allowed to marry and have children. There was no distinction between sexes, and every manufacturer had to contribute a portion of its gains to the common fund for those who became invalids from poor health or old age. The factory became famous for its precious fabrics, exporting its products far and wide. The farm has disappeared today, but the weaving factory is still operating (privately, under the Stabilimento Serico De Negri) and the craft is still alive, with expert artisans weaving damasks, brocades, and other fabrics of international reputation.
Opening onto Piazza della Seta, the original colony is very scenic, with ordered rows of houses offering beautiful views over the Reggia and the surroundings. The small church preexisted the hamlet and is probably of Longobard origin. Following a small road to the right past the building that housed the silk factory, you will find the Casino Reale di Belvedere, a small (compared to the Reggia) palace in the delightful green surroundings of a park. This was the king's hunting lodge, beyond which starts the royal hunting preserve that is connected to the park of the Reggia. In the casino are the Royal Apartments, richly frescoed with allegoric scenes on the ceilings painted by Fedele Fischetti; those in the queen's bathroom are by Philipp Hackert. The view from the Belvedere is superb. The casino contains original weaving machinery that is still in working order -- you can ask to see one functioning -- as part of the Museo della Seta (Silk Museum), which also displays many examples of the wonderful original fabrics that were produced.
The road that leads toward the left from below the steps of the original silk factory on Piazza della Seta climbs to the Hunting Lodge of the Aquaviva princes, the original owners of the estate; nearby is the Vaccheria, the stables where Ferdinand established the colony's first weaving activity before he built the village.