Sunday, February 22, 2015

Take A Walk in My Scarpa

When one travels to Italy, one luxuriates over leather goods, namely shoes. And anyone who knows me knows I've had a thing or two to say about footwear.

Alexa took me to two markets and a shoe store to indulge my lust for shoes. She showed me how to look at labels to find the real leather, and to determine which were made here and which were made in China. At one market, we were greeted by a sea of seconds and last season treasures, with leather boots for only 10 Euro (About $15). Alas, they were only as large as a 37, and I start at a 38.

One can hardly afford NOT to buy them!

But we did find a few crazy stylish pairs that fit the parameters. There is no room in Alexa's legendary shoe closet, but what's a girl to do when one finds pointy gold leather booties wrapped with little belt things for only seven Euro?

The thing is, I couldn't get my head around the Italian word for shoes: Scarpa.

I mean, in the country that is known for buttery soft, elegant footwear that fits so comfortably style can be a part of every step, the country that is literally shaped like footwear, and where the most musical of all Romance languages is spoken, why wouldn't there be a more mellifluous word for shoe? SKARpa. Scar. (ew.) puh. (ugh.) The word has sharp edges and a spitting quality, calling to mind how painful shoes can be. What were Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes with the right angle turn and the embedded razor blades, if not scarpa?

I needed some help to understand the magic of this word, and asked Davide (Dáh-vee-day), the Vesuvian Cowboy to illustrate. Sure enough, when an dashing Italian man says this word, one wants to slip one's stockinged foot into whatever he happens to be holding in his hand at the moment....

My trophies: a pair of soft grey wedgie boots, some sleek leather Beatle booties, a pair of whimsical felt t-straps with a crocheted flower on the toe, dangerous six-inch heel and a red sole (Alexa found a matching pair of pumps in her size... we really need to do an act, right?), and the perfect pair of first pumps for my niece's Bat Mitzvah. (The girl is smart. She knew just what to ask for as a souvenir.) 

And now for some shoe porn. 

The high holy grail of Cinderella shoes appeared in a window in Venice. 

(I may have to rewrite my novel around them.)


  1. the shoes look great. really, rewrite for a pair of shoes? that's work.

  2. True, another thousand words. The one already written is of a vintage design...very different.

    “I had a feeling it would come to this,” he said. He pulled out a box, and unwrapped yards of white tissue from a shoe so shapely it seemed alive. I put my hand on his and peered into the paper at what I thought at first might be a sleeping animal from another dimension. The shoe was so divinely crafted it did not seem suited for the foot of a mortal, especially one as mere as me. But soon strips of soft green and violet suede cradled my foot like a slipper, curving upward in elegant spirals that twisted sensuously around my ankles. Glass beads were embroidered into the edges of the suede in a feather-like pattern that made me think of angel's wings. My foot pad settled on a thick pad of clear Lucite, that swept in a wave up a few modest inches to an intricately carved scroll under the heel, like the translucent foot of an antique chair. My toes peeped out modestly between two overlapping bands, festooned with two pinched glass buttons that looked like tiny crystal candy kisses.... —from The Souls of Her Feet

    1. Has a backstory, too...

      “It's a genuine Arpad concept shoe,”—I looked a question at him—recreated illegally by a Balenciaga craftsman for his own size,” Harry whispered. “Nineteen thirty nine. The guy was a wizard with early plastics and all sorts of materials, sought after by all the great designers of the time. A real eccentric, who cherished the independent life. You should have seen his collection. He gave me these on my twenty-first birthday. I lived with him for a year in Barcelona after....” Harry's voice trailed off.

  3. I guess the problem with shoes will always be that you can only wear one pair at a time. :)