Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 30, 2015

Making Italian shoes

Italy is famous for its shoes. I have quite a collection myself. On my last trip to Italy I went with Margie from Margie in Italy  to visit Italian Shoemakers at their factory near Lucca.

Italian Shoemakers Lucca

Our lovely guide, Louisa, gave us a guided tour through their showroom and factory where their shoes are designed and the samples made by hand.

It was great to see the design process and I loved the room full of trims for the shoes. I would love to get my hands on some of the gorgeous bits and pieces.

We met the lovely team putting the samples together.

Louisa then took us to a nearby factory where trims are made. It is quite amazing to watch these things being pushed out of machines.

The third factory we went to assembled the various parts into the finished shoe. Everyone had a particular job to do and it was interesting  to see the shoes finally come together.

Making a pair of shoes is an extraordinarily complicated process. Components come from all over and dozens of people are involved to produce a shoe. I will now appreciate mine even more.

Shoes head off from these factories to North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America. They appear under several different labels.

Thank you to Italian Shoemakers for a very interesting day.



  1. You lucky girl….all those beautiful Italian shoes. Did you buy any?

    • I didn’t, but I could always go back. There were a few pairs I liked.

  2. Nothing like the feel and finesse of those beautiful hand crafted Italian shoes. Thanks for the insight into how they are made.

    • It is such a complicated business, I’m surprised shoes don’t cost more.

  3. I have always loved Italian sandals. They are the best!

    • I like them too, and I think it is great that there is a local business in Lucca selling to the world.

  4. I love Italian shoes, and it was fascinating to see your pics. Now I understand why they’re so expensive. 🙂

    • These particular shoes are not all that expensive. They sell under various brand names in USA.

  5. Next time you’re in Venice, you should find Giovanna Zanella in her atelier just off Campo San Lio. She hand makes ‘bespoke’ shoes – wild and whacky to sublime (all to die for … !). She’s young and charming and loves her craft, and didn’t seem to mind my purving and drooling while we chatted 🙂 She’s a little difficult to find (on Calle Carminatti), but the excursion itself is worth the effort and if you love shoes …

    • I am taking not of that name and address and I will go there next time I go to Venice. Thank you for the tip.

  6. I have never really given much thought as to how shoes are made and didn’t realise it was so complicated and that so many people are involved in the process. So, I enjoyed looking at the images.

    • I hadn’t realised all the processes either. So many different components come together to make a sandal.

  7. Good one Deb. I would love to see how they’re assembled. Nothing like Italian shoes (or anything) for that matter. Such attention to detail in everything that they do….and they’re are so proud of their work too. Oh Italy…I’ve got to get back there soon!!!! La dolca vita!!!



    • The 3 factories were small family businesses working together. I think it is great.

  8. Oh, oh, oh from an absolutely lifelong shoe nut: especially Italian ones – thank you for taking us along with you for a look-see: am now wondering just which labels are made there . . . any of the wellknown ones? The caramel and buff sandals are right up my alley 🙂 !

  9. I just have to go there whilst we are in Lucca – without Pete !

  10. What an extraordinary experience.. c

    • It was really interesting to see it all come together.

  11. No. mens shoes?

    • Not at this factory. You will just have to go barefoot.

  12. Love, love, love Italian shoes.

    • Me too. I can’t wait to get back to Itsly to see the spring offerings.

  13. Fantastic! I think that Italian shoes are wonderful – great story!

    • I use the excuse that Italian shoes suit my feet…works for me.

  14. I love shoes, nice shoes, soft, leather Italian shoes. Now I know why they are so expensive and that it is just as well that I have the Ugly Sister feet that can’t squeeze into them!

    • I’m sure you could find a suitable pair here.

  15. I knew there was a reason I loved Italian shoes Deb. Here in the U.S. Jcrew has some of the most sumptuous ballet flats made in Italy and I buy a pair every season. I even bought some in Florence. The fit is exquisite and there is no better quality. How lovely that you got to visit the factories and watch shoes being made,

    • It was really interesting to see the process. It makes you appreciate you shoes even more.

  16. I just love seeing artisan producers still going strong. A beautiful post!!!

    • It is excellent that these small family owned businesses are doing well.

  17. Did you get to take any home with you? I want the cute white sandal!

    • I liked that sandal too, I wish I had bought them.

  18. Many yesrs ago I took a pair of shoes to my calzolaio (cobbler) to be fixed and was told that they were beyond repair. I was asked if I would like to have a pair of hand made shoes as a replacement. I had never had a hand made pair of shoes. Those were the most confortable, longest lasting shoes I ever had! Debra, do you have any idea where I might find someone who could make me another pair?

    • There is a place in Pescia that makes hand made shoes, or at least it did a couple of years ago. That is probably a bit far for you to go. In Rome try Danilo Mancini, Vicolo delle Volpe 14.

      • Debra,

        Do you have any contact information for Danilo Mancini. I’m looking to have him make a pair of shoes for me.

      • I don’t I’m sorry. The link to the post I found on him is no longer working.

  19. How fascinating Debra! Visit to shoe atelier added to list of things to do on my next visit to Italy 🙂

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