Venetian eccentric fashion!!

In the extremely original world of Venetian ladies, a very particular item of clothing spread between the 15th and 17th centuries: we are talking about a kind of slipper raised 50 centimeters off the ground: the so-called calcagnetti ... some people say that the height was useful not to get the long clothes dirty with the mud of the calli and campielli but it seems that also the husbands found in this shoe the hope that their wives didn't go too far away...

A sort of a slipper with a wedge: this is the way in which we can define the particular shoes that spread in Venice for three-hundred years, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. In the city they were called calcagnetti and they were usually used by noblewomen, although it seems that the fashion was also widespread among prostitutes.

The design was simple: a wooden stand enlarged at the base and well welded to the sole of the slipper. The models of calcagnetti were the most disparate and could include precious fabrics, coloured stones, leather, wood and ivory inlays even if the shoe was hidden by the length of the skirt. If at the beginning the height of the support was a few centimetres, with time (and vanity) it became more and more imposing since the height began to correspond to the wealth and power of the lady.

The calcagnetti reached over 60 centimetres and this provided not only the help of a maid for walking but also the limitation of the movements: walking, and above all getting on and off the bridges, with these shoes was really difficult. It was the 1585 when Tommaso Garzoni wrote that in Piazza San Marco it "seems to see dwarfs converted into gigantesses" !!

If the husbands and the clergy encouraged the heights of this shoe, in 1430 the Great Council tried to prohibit them because the falls of the ladies caused fractures and abortions. Failing to do so, the Council ordered that the height of the supports could not exceed eight centimetres.

To see some beautiful examples of calcagnetti we recommend a visit to the Correr Museum where it is possible also to see some prints showing the ladies struggling with these "difficult" shoes!

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