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My advice while in Italy

Just spent the month of April in Italy. I brought two pairs of shoes,
A pair of Ecco GTX propene
A pair of Rockport XCS
Both have traction soles.
And I sprayed them twice with scotch guard.
Having spent the last thirty years riding a desk, I am overweight and have bad knees.
I bought the shoes for Christmas.
Started walking a mile ever day.
Also bought a fitbit, it tracks several useful things, most importantly number of steps and miles. My stride. A mile equals 2200 steps. Along with other walking around the house and yard and the mile walk, I was averaging 7000 steps a day.
I was switching shoes daily to break them. Thought I was prepared.
The Ecco are narrow and I replaced both the insoles and shoe laces. I hate round shoelaces, they come untied easily. So I bought Kevlar flat laces. Been working great.
So over the month in Italy.
The Rockport are good for planes and trains, light weight and flexible. But they are too light weight for all of the cobble stone roads and paths in Florence, Rome, Naples and the amalfi coast. The Ecco have a stronger luged sole and the ankle support is stronger to help prevent roled ankles on all those round stones.
Killer in Pompeii. Another thing my daily step count now averages 17000 or 7.5 miles, the highest being 21,000 steps =9.5 miles walking Naples alleys in the Spanish quarter. Yet another thing steps are rounded edges not square.
Our hotel in amalfi was up 100 rounded steps.
All of positano is steps.
So is Capri

So the moral of my story.
Be prepared, pack light, don't cheat on your shoes, your going to put a lot of miles on them. Your feet are depending on them.

Posted by
411 posts

Very good advice ‘pack light and don’t cheat on your shoes’. So the Rockports, not so much, but were you pleased with the Eccos? Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate how much walking you can do on these trips.

Posted by
1800 posts

Maybe too casual for you, but modern highly cushioned trail running shoes are amazingly easy on your feet. Hoka, Altra etc. The look might not be right, but you can walk all day in them.

A good bit of guidance is that nowadays these shoes and similar are what most people wear to walk long distance trails. They walk 20 miles or more every single day with 10 to 15 lb on their backs, and these are the shoes that objectively do it best.

I have a buddy who ran a lot, then got quite fat and develop foot problems. He was in Eccos and Danners, but not doing particularly well. He called me the other day and said he bought Hoka Stinsons, loved them and had started jogging again.

But anyway just an idea, there certainly are plenty of good shoes out there, and cushy trail runners might look to sportlich for some people :)

Posted by
75 posts

Thank you for this. I am currently agonizing over the "shoe question" myself, leaving for Italy and France in about 5 weeks. I have Altra Lone Peaks (not sure if they are 5 or 6) and am considering them, but am a bit worried that they won't have enough cushion for what I anticipate will be regular 25K step days in Rome and Paris. I wore them only once so far, on a 12 mile hike in the North Cascades this past fall. Would love another perspective on these as cobblestone walking shoes. What do you think Hank?

Posted by
755 posts

Shoes are the most important thing you need to worry about when packing!

Posted by
943 posts

I'm a nurse and am on concrete floors for 12+ hours a day. Hoka Bondi 8 are the absolute best for hard surfaces - amazing support. Only thing is, they are NOT waterproof. For waterproof, we love Keen Targhee III - super comfy, great all day on cobblestone, amazing support.

Posted by
432 posts

Going back and forth between Merrell Moab hiking shoes for Europe, or Hokas. I currently use Hokas for city walking and the Merrells for dog park/light trails/travel.

Posted by
1800 posts

Regarding the Altra Lone Peaks on cobbles, I can't say. I haven't started wearing zero drop brands yet.

But broadly speaking I've not had trouble with high cushion trail runners on city streets in Europe.

And Bondis - now there's a comfy shoe! Only concern is twisting an ankle as they ride high. But if you generally don't turn ankles they are ridiculously comfortable and surprisingly light as well.

Posted by
149 posts

We were in Europe last year for over 3 weeks. Before we left I did the whole “what shoes to bring” thing. I finally realized that if my feet went down, me and the vacation would go down with them. I bought a new pair of Hoka Bondi 7’s and walked all over Italy, Amsterdam and London; some days putting over 12 miles on them, I now have Bondi 8s and they will be going with me back to Italy this fall. My husband wears Hokas as well and loves them, having transitioned from Rockports and New Balance,

Posted by
75 posts

Just picked up my new Hoka Clifton 9s at Nordstrom yesterday. They are hugely comical, clown feet for adults, but they ARE comfy. I think they might be the big winner for my trip to Italy. I love the Altra Lone Peak 6s, but my feet slide around a good bit on the pavement here on my checkout walks, so I am worried about taking them and having them not work out.

Hank- Bellevue Square Nordies just got a shipment of Hokas in and my shoe had just been restocked yesterday (lucky me!) after having been out of stock for a while. You might wish to call if you are still seeking your Hoka model to try out. Good luck!

Posted by
2609 posts

My new favorite travel shoe is the Ecco Street 720 in black with a thick white sole, and they are leather and Goretex so waterproof. Might need them in white, too! Nice support, wide toe box and stylish, took me over cobblestones in Rome and Budapest with ease. I generally prefer Ecco, they suit my feet just right.

Posted by
63 posts

Laura — I just got back from 10 days walking/hiking in Italy and work my Altra Lone Peaks for most of it. I loved them. It rained a lot on our trip and those cobbles are slippery and while I did slip some times, I felt like I had better traction than my husband (who was wearing Hokas). Another key, for me, was to have a comfortable pair of shoes to change into at the end of the day. So I swapped to a pair of AllBird slides for dinner/evening wandering, which definitely have more cushion than the Altra’s.

That said, I walk/hike a LOT normally, so my feet were pretty ready. However they did literally hurt after one day of a 5 mile hike on mostly cobbles, but I don’t think any shoe could have actually prevented that :)