Essay from Kristen Caven

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 a 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 heels and red soles (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.)