Sunday, January 20, 2008
Leather Shoes Florence Italy
Back around 1997 when I was working as a copyeditor at hoovers.com in Austin, Texas, US, my coworker Regan gave me her old leather lace-up shoes. I love them.
Then in September 2006, I was walking down Via dei Pepi in Florence, Italy, when I was coaxed into a shoe repair place by a man about my age, Giuseppe, and an older man. They were kind enough and I politely looked around their neighboring tiny shops before resuming my course. I had never had shoes professionally repaired before, apparently preferring to “Shoe-Goo” them until they are completely ruined.
Giuseppe ran after me in the street and dropped something into my drawing bag, saying, “segreto” while placing one finger across his lips. I was a bit confused, but thanked him, and we exchanged names and smiles. And this is the way one learns Italian. (The something turned out to be some clear shoe polish in a vertical tube: un regalo, a gift, and apparently a secret one. Hence the reason I am posting this blog, right!)
Then one morning last fall in Florence, I ran into a new friend, Maria. She held a pair of lovely boots in her hand and was searching for a repair place. So, remembering my exchange with Giuseppe, I gave her direxions to Via dei Pepi. Maria was pleased with the service and the negotiated price.
With rain for many days in a row, I recently had to admit that my cherished leather lace-ups were separating at the toe of the soles. Always being shy about bargaining, Maria offered to go with me. We met the older man, a real charmer. Maria told him that she was from Spain and since he loved to travel, the bartering went very well. It also helped that we live here. He handed me a copy of an article that had been written about him in a newspaper, describing him as a giramondo (world traveler).
When I returned at lunch, I had caught the 84-year-old Signore Carmine taking a nap, as though he were simply waiting for my return before closing up shop at 13:00. I had asked him only to repair the separating toe (and not the worn-out heal), but he must have decided that was just wrong. In addition to the repair I had asked for, he cleaned and polished my old shoes, giving them new life. He was so charming. He seemed genuinely happy to see me and even took my hand, pulled back the mitten a little, and kissed my wrist, exclaiming, “Che bella!”
So, my shoes can be worn in the rain again safely, I had a lovely experience, and now I look forward to walking down Via dei Pepi even more than before.
If you find yourself in Florence, Italy, in need of anything shoe- or leather-related, feel free to walk down this street not too far from Piazza Santa Croce. Here is the address:
Lavorazione e Riparazione
Pelletteria e Scarpe
Via dei Pepi, 28-30 R (R stands for the red lettered address numbers)
50122 Firenze, Italia
Tel. 055 2345099