Before I went to Italy, I heard people mention Italian leather, and even though I had a vague idea that I should look for good deals while I was there, I came away with only a small change purse that was stamped with gold scroll work and some flowers. I went to Venice, but didn’t take note of any hand crafted shoe stores.
After reading this article, I would approach my visit differently! It talks about three hand crafters, all women, that currently operate in slow-paced Venice, which is, of course, also a great place for walking, since there are no vehicles to speak of. And, it notes an intriguing historical trend of platform shoes taking off amongst the general population after being prescribed for courtesans in the 16th century to discourage “street walking.”
The comment I most appreciate comes from Gabriele Gmeiner, who says:
The fact that there are no cars slows down the pace of life, so that it fits in with the tempi of traditional crafts.
The article also mentions the average price range of these handcrafted shoes, which is anywhere from 700-1500 euros. To me, this says that although handcrafting shoes (or other) won’t make one rich, there is a clientele out there that appreciates the artisanry and is willing to pay for it.
Only one link mentioned in the article gives an idea of the shoes these women create, that of Gabriele Gmeiner, who has several other interesting projects described in photos on her site, including children’s boots made by Venetian prisoners.
You’ll have to follow the link to see these delightful creations.
Here’s an example on Flickr of Giovanna Zanella’s shoes, and a blog link with more info on this artisan.