Italian Shoes (and Feet): Group Post with School in Cortona Students

Cortona, Tuesday at 10:30 am.

Cortona, Tuesday at 10:30 am. Cortona is perched on a steep hill with narrow paths that are covered in cobblestones.

The Italian relationship with feet seems contradictory to me. On one hand, they revere feet, encasing them in expensive and beautifully hand-crafted leather shoes. It is rare to see dirty, run-down or shoddy shoes on the pins of an Italian. If you come across bad shoes, you have undoubtedly spotted a tourist such as myself. 

Here is what I wear in Cortona. My non-Italian butt ugly runnning shoes, which finally got used once again in Cortona.

Here is what I wear in Cortona. My non-Italian, butt ugly runnning shoes.

On the other hand, Italians link feet with dirt, considering them vectors for disease. It is unthinkable—indeed disgusting—to wear bare feet inside an Italian abode.This vile act would put the bare footed person at risk but more importantly would spread filth throughout the premisses.

The following photo essay was produced by participants in the University of Alberta’s School in Cortona, Italy, during May 2015. I was teaching “Bodies, Sex, and Death in Early Modern Italy,” discussing historically and culturally specific conceptions of embodiment, cleanliness, and death, among other things. Some of the lovely students in the course agreed to take pictures of interesting or typical Italian shoes/feet during their travels. The last time I taught in Cortona, we published a group post called “Italian Pants.”  Be sure to check that one out as well.

Cortona. Sunday walking shoes.

Cortona. Sunday walking shoes.


Fashionable foot wear in Venice.

Fashion alert: plastic booties wow the crowds in Venice.











Treva shoesDSC01219[1]DSC01217[1]DSC01208[1]


Nicole 4 shoesLingxi2 Italian shoesLinxgi Italian shoesLingxi3 Italian shoes

Some privileged creatues do not deign to walk.

Some privileged creatues do not deign to walk.


Nicole 3 shoes


Nicole2 shoesNicole shoes


Sunday Church shoes.

Sunday Church shoes.

Airport shoes.

Airport shoes.

Airport ?

Airport ?

Airport shoes.

Airport shoes.


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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

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