Custom Italian Sandals While You Wait
I have been hearing about getting custom-made Capri Positano sandals on the Amalfi Coast for several months in anticipation of our trip to Europe. Every time someone would ask me what we were planning to buy on our trip, I would tell them the story of these artisans who custom make the shoes while you wait. Finally, my dream came true.
We took our boat trip around the Isle of Capri and at the end of the breathtaking views on the water, it was time to go explore the island. We had the most amazing drink of our trip at the port of this island - Limoncello Spritz, made of limoncello and prosecco. It was all going so well and the sandals would be the icing on the cake.
Only one problem. A mountain of steep stone stairs going straight up the island of Capri lay ahead of us and the town square shops were at the top. The bus going to the Town Square was too long of a wait, and we had to catch our public hydrofoil boat back to Sorrento in just a couple of hours. If we wasted time waiting for the bus, it was that much less time to shop for the perfect sandals to have made.
We decided to make the trek. People would be walking down from the top as if it were a mountain hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. They would say, “Well you’re almost halfway.” Or they would shake their heads and say, “It’s straight up,” motioning their hands up toward the sky.
This was definitely the hardest hike I had ever attempted and the top was not a snowy mountain or a crystal clear lake, but a cherished pair of sandals along with an incredible view looking over the Mediterranean Sea. Okay, the view WAS spectacular!
We had been averaging 5-7 miles of walking a day through Europe, but this was different. A huge incline that never seemed to end. With my face beet red and sweat dripping down my back, I felt accomplished as if I had climbed Mount Everest. I cannot describe how hard it was. I know I’m out of shape, but everyone was complaining about these never-ending steep stone stairs. It took me 45 grueling minutes.
Now to find the perfect pair of hand made sandals while I wait! I had heard from our travel guide that the skilled shoe makers in Capri and Positano make custom-made sandals of the color, leather and style to your liking. Thus, they are called Capri-Positano sandals.
These shoes are very special. The artisans who make them are some of the few people left in the world who offer a truly hand made sandal. They practice the original and traditional techniques of the local expert craftsman. Each sandal is made entirely by hand, beginning with the sole and working upwards. There is no factory involved, and every piece is created by a small family team who have been in the business of sandals for over 60 years.
After searching for the perfect store with the largest selection of leathers and suedes and styles, I finally found it. The shop was Fiore and my shoemaker’s name was Emmanuel. After much dilemma, I decided it would have been best to buy at least two pairs, but I settled for a tan thin strap with a simple design. The store clerk said she had the exact same shoes and loved them - a great endorsement! My daughter chose a thin black strap that wrapped around her ankles. I would later wish I had bought a second pair in black. Oh well!
Emmanuel worked quickly and first fitted me for the perfect size sole. Next he took a tool that punctured light dents in the sole in-between my toes indicating where he would sew the straps. He was extremely polite to me and efficient at his job. He said he would have both pairs done in 30 minutes - just in time for us to eat lunch and catch the bus.
As it turned out, my daughter and I paid for our sandals and went down the sidewalk to meet our family who had ordered an entire table of beautiful Italian appetizers and entrees. They had ordered limoncello spritzers to re-create the ones we had earlier that day by the port. They weren’t the same, but good. The point is that they changed our boat tickets to a later time so that we could really enjoy the island. Good decision!
The island of Capri turned out to be my favorite shopping experience in Italy. Winding manicured paths all over this part of the island with beautiful boutiques selling clothing, shoes, swim suits, jewelry and my other downfall, Italian pottery. That’s another article!
After a full afternoon of perusing every shop and enjoying the scenery from the top, Chloie and I went to pick up our treasures - the finished sandals. After months of anticipation, they did not disappoint!
Emmanuel brought the partly finished shoes out and had us try them on one more time. He made a couple more measurements and hammered the final pieces right in front of us. One more fitting, and at last, our Capri Positano sandals were complete and ready to wear.
They were all I had hope for and it was a thrill to watch them being made.
How thrilling to have watched this talented artisan at his craft. And ending up with a stylish shoe from Italy was something I would always love wearing with many fond memories. I highly recommend you visiting Capri and Positano in the Amalfi Coast area. Yes, the views are incredible, but so are the sandals!!