In the basement of a medieval palazzo in Florence, a treasure trove of shoes lurks. Florence has long held a reputation for skilled craftsmanship and design, a city not just of the Renaissance but also at the forefront of fashion. While most frequent museums in Florence in search of Michelangelo masterpieces and Botticelli beauties, the city’s fashion arts should not be ignored.
I lived just 60 seconds from the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence, where the Michelangelo of shoes designed and created fashions for the feet. Ferragamo was not just one of Italy’s most famous designers, but also an innovator in the shoe department. If you want to get off the over beaten path and long lines of Florence’s museum scene, consider strolling through this shoe heaven at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo.
Location: Museo Salvatore Ferragamo hides away in a tiny corner of Florence. The museum resides in the basement of the main Ferragamo retail store in Palazzo Spini Feroni. Visitors that are more interested in the museum can enter on the side of the palazzo in Piazza Santa Trinita 5/R. The museum is just steps away from Ponte Santa Trinita and one of Florence’s most famous fashion streets, Via Della Vigna Nuova.
The Man Behind The Shoes: Ferragamo was born in the village of Bonito in 1898, just 100 kilometers outside of Naples. His passion for footwear was clear at a young age when he opened his own shoe shop in town at 13. After dabbling in the American shoe scene, opening up the Hollywood Boot Shop and cementing himself as the shoemaker to the stars, Ferragamo returned to Florence in 1927. He fulfilled his dream of creating and producing the most beautiful shoes in the world. His legacy still lives on as one of the great fashion houses.
The Collection: The door to the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo might look small and insignificant, but once you step into the museum’s collection, you will find that the best collections are usually stored away in basements. The collection documents Ferragamo’s career from 1927 to 1960. The items on display change every two years, pulling from the archives of over 10,000 models. It is the sort of museum you could visit every few years and always see something you didn’t see before. The displays generally feature around 200 of his creations. Within the museum, you can also see the shoes of Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn, as Ferragamo had a close relationship with stars and their feet.
Innovation: What makes the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo such a worthwhile museum in Florence is the chance to see Ferragamo’s knack for innovation and design when it came to footwear. Ferragamo is credited with coming up with the famous cork wedge, what would be one of the most famous fashion inventions of the Forties. Ferragamo was also inventive in the materials he used, from plastics, cellophane, painted cloth to fish skin. You can see his many inventions in the shoe department at the museum including the gloved arch, the shell-shaped sole, sculpted heels and the Kimo.
Hours and Costs: This shoe paradise is open Wednesday through Monday from 10AM to 6PM. However, visitors should check ahead of time as it is closed for holidays and events on occasion. Tickets cost €5 but are free for those under 10 or over 65 years old. Proceeds from the museums’ ticket sales help further what Ferragamo started; the creation of beautiful shoes. Profits got to a scholarship for young footwear designers.
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