After writing about Italian summer style and what I was packing before we headed to Ischia, I thought I'd better do a bit of a follow up on that subject matter since we've returned.
It definitely was fun staying put in the same hotel for 5 days...where we could unpack, get a little settled, and getting to change outfits through the day rather than sloughing around all day with traveling backpacks. The days normally went something like this: long pants and light long-sleeves for the morning activities, change into bathing suits / shorts + tanks for afternoon, switch into an 'island casual' dinner outfit, add a couple layers for the cooler evening outings.
One thing I'd packed in several forms was stripes...and I fit right in! There were stripes everywhere (not too surprising since it was a harbor town in Europe...and that's exactly where I envision the whole nautical theme coming from). On window overhangs, every private beach (either on the umbrellas, bath houses, or bar), plenty of signs, boat covers, and of course people. Too bad I wasn't thinking like the Sartorialist or I could have gotten some better shots. Although I did sneak a couple from these older people meandering on the beach walk.
Also, very island-style-esque, the one souvenir I came back with was a pair of beautiful handmade sandals. I'd known about the famous Amedeo Canfora sandals that everyone gets on the nearby island of Capri, and Antonio Viva's sandals in Anacapri, but since we weren't heading there on this trip I thought I'd see if Ischia had a similar tradition of these sandali artigianale .
Luckily during one of our evening walks through Ischia Porto, I spotted a small sign down a side street that simply said "sandali". I quickly took a detour to get a closer look...There wasn't much of a sign on the front, but plenty of simple styles of these island sandals were hanging on display boards outside the entrance and in the window. I peeked inside, and the very small interior was filled with sandals of all kinds. Each style was just shown with one shoe and then on the walls hung various cloth and leather straps of all colors. The female cobbler seemed about my age, and she was hard at work making a few pairs of sandals on her work bench.
I asked her about the process, and she quickly explained that I just pick a sole base (there were some completely flat, some with a small raised heel bed, and some with a bit of a wedge heel), a formation style of the strappings, and the color. The prices were all based on the base model, number of straps, and material. I told her I'd be back the next day...
The next afternoon we returned to the laboratorio artigianale and I tried on a few samples and decided on a flat style mixed between leather straps and weaved cloth ties which can be interchanged with different colors (I chose a tan leather strap base with interchangeable cream and black ties). It wasn't one of the more traditional styles, but they were really comfortable and fun. She measured my foot and fitted me to a sole, then made some initial markings on the sole for where the strap widths should be placed. I picked out the strap colors and made an appointment to return the next day for the finished sandals.
When I came back, she put the shoes on my feet and made a final adjustment to the middle strap loop, banged in a couple small nails, then imprinted the soles with a signature stamp. I gladly paid her, and left happy with my souvenir of our time in Ischia. And they invoke lovely memories every time I wear them.
Via Venanzio Marone, 5