MONTE ISOLA, Italy (AP) — Step off the ferry onto Monte Isola and it feels like going back in time.
The factory of La Rete S.r.l. — an old-fashioned producer of nets for soccer goals — is indeed a throwback.
Workers still use their hands to weave the nets that have been used at World Cups stretching back to the 1990 tournament in Italy, throughout Serie A and in recent Champions League finals, too.
There used to be several net producers on Monte Isola but La Rete is the last company still running.
“Historically, this is a territory where nets have been made. It started with fishing and hunting then was slowly transformed into nets for sports,” said Elio Agnesi, who, along with partner (and Monte Isola mayor) Fiorello Turla, has been running the company for 40 years.
Monte Isola is a picturesque island located in the middle of Lake Iseo in northern Italy. All of the company’s 18 workers reside on the island and use scooters to reach the factory each day on narrow paths.
Merchandise is ferried to the mainland on a barge once per week using a dock located under the factory.
The island’s population is about 1,800.
La Rete also produces nets for volleyball, basketball and other sports. The company makes 10,000 nets per year.
“We invented the hexagon-shaped stitching for goal nets,” Agnesi said. “And now I see it copied all over the world.”