Something’s Afoot! Posted by Serena on Oct 16, 2015 in Uncategorized
I recently wrote a short dialogue about buying shoes in Italy called ‘In A Shoe Shop In Italy’, which somehow ended up becoming a series of short stories about Carmela and her Italian shoe obsession: Chapter 1 , Chapter 2, Chapter 3
Well folks, you too can now develop your own Italian footwear obsession with my handy list below.
Let’s begin by looking at the range of calzature (footwear) that you might find in un negozio di calzature (a shoe shop)
We’ll start by dividing them according to heel height:
scarpe senza tacco (flat shoes)
scarpe col tacco basso (shoes with low heels)
scarpe col tacco alto (high heels)
scarpe col tacco a spillo (stilettos)
zeppe o zatteroni (platform shoes)
Common types of footwear
le ballerine = ballerina shoes
le decolleté = the classic woman’s low cut shoes, normally with high heels
i sandali = the sandals
i sabot = mules, slip on shoes
gli/le infradito = (literally: in between the toes) flip flops
gli stivaletti = smart ankle boots, for men and for women
gli stivali = knee length boots
gli stivali di gomma = Wellington/rubber boots
i mocassini = loafers, moccasins
gli scarponi = walking boots, heavy duty ankle boots
le sneakers = sneakers, of course! When I was a child they were called le scarpe da tennis (tennis shoes)
le trainers = trainers, once upon a time they were called le scarpe da ginnastica = sport shoes
gli zoccoli = clogs
le pantofole, or le ciabatte = slippers
le pattine = (literally = little skaters) completely flat slippers with soft soles made out of a wool type fabric. These were very popular in the past when housewives used to wax the floor tiles. As you couldn’t walk normally with them, you literally had to ‘skate’. This meant that you polished the floor as you moved around the house. However, le pattine were the cause of many nasty household accidents!
I still remember going to my grandmother’s apartment, and as we walked through the door, there was a row of pattine awaiting for us. We had to remove our shoes and put the pattine on. My brothers loved them because they used to take a few quick steps and then slide down along the corridor hitting the end wall or any piece of furniture they found on their way, to the great despair of our grandmother.
N.B. ice skates are called i pattini da ghiaccio
Shoe related vocabulary:
il calzascarpe = the shoehorn
il calzolaio = the cobbler
la soletta = the insole
il plantare anatomico = the orthopaedic support, arch support
la scarpiera = the shoe rack
Words and expressions that derive from footwear:
un pantofolaio = a couch potato
la scarpata = the scarp, escarpment
scarpinare = to traipse
una scarpinata = a long, hard walk in the mountains
la ciabatta = a type of low and shapeless bread, which rather resembles an old worn out slipper. It’s also a common name for an electrical plug board.
la scarpaccia = (literally: ugly old shoe) a sweet tart made with young courgettes, typical of Viareggio (Toscana)
fare le scarpe a qualcuno = (literally: to make shoes for someone) to pull the rug out from under someone’s feet
fare la scarpetta = (literally: to make a little shoe), a Roman expression meaning ‘to mop up the sauce on your plate with some bread’.
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