Have you ever heard of the “Cioppine”?

In this article we will tell you the story of the ancient Venetian shoes: the cioppine.

In the twelfth century in Venice the shoemakers gathered in guilds called “Caleghèri” and “Zavateri” which also included the category of “Solarii”, ie those who produced the soles for shoes, and the category of “Patitari”, who instead produced the hooves called “Socchi” or “zanghe” with a wooden or cork sole.

With the influence of the various Oriental – Byzantine and Ottoman – Chinese styles, due to the many commercial exchanges that affected the Venice area, the shoes took new forms.

This is how the famous Venetian shoes were born: the Cioppine!

The cioppine were particular feminine shoes, equipped with a large wedge and used by all the ladies to walk around the streets of Venice.

Visitors from all over the world often made stops in Venice just to see the ladies wandering with the cioppine to the feet, shoes that made walking difficult.

The height of the wedge could even reach 50 cm and sometimes two helpers were needed to assist and help the lady get on shoes.

In this way they became a form of wealth index, the higher the wedge was, the more important the Lady was wearing it.

In this regard, the Venice Serenissima in the year 1430 issued a law that limited the height of the wedge to a normal size, about 8 cm.

But the law was completely ignored by all the people who continued to wear the cioppine.

In fact, even the Venetian husbands favored their use, since they limited the risk that their wives went around (because of the difficulty to walk on them) while they were out of town for work.

Even the ecclesiastical authorities approved them because these shoes, which limited the movements, discouraged activities that were considered sinful for them, including dance.

The wedges were then covered with leather or velvet, and the fabric of the cioppine was often the same used then also for the dress.

The cioppine became fashionable also in Spain, France, England and even in China.

They were then banned after many women suffered abortions due to falls caused by the use of excessively high footwear.

There are shoes that, for better or for worse, have gone down in history, or in any case somehow remember its existence even in legends and stories.

How not to mention then, at the beginning, the god Mercury, Hermes correspondent of Greek mythology, and his winged shoes, the famous Talari. This attribute did not mean anything but his role as messenger of the Gods, and for this reason which representation would have been better if not the wings to sandals to send the messages as quickly as possible!

In China, starting from 900 AD until the first half of the twentieth century, that is for almost a thousand years, the practice for women to bandage their feet and to dress very small and narrow shoes was in vogue, since this, at the time, represented a symbol of purity and nobility . This is the so-called Golden Lotus or Golden Lilies, a poetic name used to describe this Chinese practice of artificial deformation of female feet. The reference to the flower that sways in the wind was in fact due to the oscillating gait that the feet so placed gave to the woman. According to legend, the practice of the Golden Lotus arose around 900 AD. from an imperial concubine. To get hold of the favor of the emperor, she had bandaged his feet with long bands of white silk and then danced the Dance of the moon on the Lotus flower.

In Krakow, on the other hand, there is an episode that binds a refined shoe, the noble foot that wore it and its imprint on a church stone. We are talking about the church of the Carmelite Fathers in Piasek, whose historical foundation is linked to the figures of Hedwig and Ladislao Jagellone, who commissioned the construction of the building at the end of the fourteenth century. According to a popular story in fact the wise and good Queen Hedwig went one day to the church still under construction. At a certain point, however, she realized that one of the masons who worked there had a very sad and resigned face. So the sovereign, always a gentle soul, worried about him and then learned that the worker’s sadness was due to the economic difficulties he was facing, especially because of the impossibility of buying the medicines necessary to make his seriously ill wife recover. Hedwig then did not hesitate any longer and decided to help him: he put her foot on a block of stone, untied the gold buckle from the shoe and gave it to the worker, aware that, by selling it, he would earn money needed. Once the queen had gone away, the man saw the imprint that her shoe had left on the still soft clay. Thus, in memory of the goodness and generosity of the sovereign, he has walled the block with the imprint of the shoe in the wall of the church with the date engraved: the year was 1390.

A curiosity about shoes with heels: unlike what you might think, it was not a woman to introduce them first in their shoe rack and show off with ease, but a man, the king of France Louis XIV, who, not being able to boast of a particularly important stature, sought remedy, or at least tried to do it, using this little help.

Another anecdote instead concerns the famous pianist and composer Fryderyk Chopin. The latter was invited to lunch by a rich shoemaker who, at the end of the meal, asked the master to sit at the piano saying: “just to show me how to do it”. So, in response, Chopin returned the invitation and after having lunch with the shoemaker, he brought a small table and all the shoemaker’s tools and asked the guest to make a shoe for him, starting with: “just to see how it’s done”.