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Footwear question

Can anyone suggest a good mens shoe to purchase for touring Italy for two weeks. My feet are sensitive but I need something that's both comfortable/light and sturdy for cobblestone streets, lots of walking, etc. Would a running shoe be good, or go with a leather dress-type shoe? Thanks for the help.

Posted by
4152 posts

When are you going? If it's the summer, you might want a walking or running shoe. Merril makes some good ones. If it's the winter you might consider a hiking shoe.

I would stay away from a dress-up shoe. You'll want something with a lot of padding and support. Make sure it's well broken in before the trip. You also might want to consider a color other than white. The white will get very dirty but a darker color will hide the dirt better.

Donna

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks Donna. I'm wearing some Merrells now, but I think I bought hiking shoes and they are not that comfortable. I'm going in the summer/fall so don't need a boot. Guess I need "walkers." But I do need plenty of support/ruggedness and comfort. Maybe I'll look again at Merrells or perhaps REI might have something. Thanks.

Posted by
2347 posts

Whatever you wore when you played soccer would be good. ;)

Posted by
20627 posts

I am a bit fan of Ecco especially the lugged sole oxford. Thinks it is called, City Walker. It is well padded, with a steady sole that handles cobble stone streets well. Also, ECCOs come with an interchangeable intersole which is critical for long term daily wear. Been my main shoe for many years

Posted by
32 posts

My husband swears by Mephistos. They are pricey, but for our last trip to Italy, I bought 10 pair of shoes for him to try on, he chose the Mephistos without knowing how much they cost, and proceeded to wear them for the next 10 years...with our next trip to Italy in a couple of months, he finally went and bought a new pair. They are GREAT!

Posted by
43 posts

Yes, Karen, cleats would probably come in handy on those cobblestone streets :-)) Frank, is Ecco a company name I can just google, or the name of the particular shoe? Same question, Marisa: are Mephistos a model of some brand or the detailed name of the shoe? Scott, I've worn Clarks before but found them not too supportive. Perhaps you have a particular model you could recommend? Thank you all for your suggestions.

Posted by
43 posts

I just answered my own qquestions...duh! Frank - I don't see "City Walkers" listed and searched the ECCO site, but no could find. Any further suggestions? Marisa - I found Mephisto shoes, but what is the exact name of the shoe your husband likes so much? There are many types pictured on the site - boots, sandals, dress, etc. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all.

Posted by
20627 posts

I was just by the ECCO store this PM. My principle travel shoe is the Track 5, plain toe (nearly identical to Track II low). Wasn't called that when I bought 7 or 8 years ago. The shoe is a touch heavy, but I don't mind, but nearly bullet proof and waterproof which I think is a needed feature. The lugged sole is perfect for cobble stone streets and bad concrete. I have the brown which I think is so so attractive but not as ugly as white walking tennis shoe. I only take one pair of shoes so the interchangeable innersoles are necessary.

Recent have also used the Seawalk which is a lighter weight with a decent sole and use that shoe when I think I need a dresser looking shoe and a little less walking. As I said earlier I am a big fan of ECCO and own six pair. In fact, it is the only brand of shoe I now own.

Posted by
30961 posts

pele,

I use an ECCO Track II Low as my primary travel shoe, and so far it's worked well. It uses Goretex in the construction, so it's somewhat of an "all weather, light hiking shoe".

My shoes took a beating in the muddy clay of Tuscany this year, but they polished up nicely!

Cheers!

Posted by
20627 posts

One final thought that is often over looked -- socks. The shoe needs to be fitted with the sock you intend to wear and then take four identical pair with you. I wear a medium weight wool sock

Posted by
43 posts

Frank - I found the Track 5 Plain Toe Low. It looks very attractive; do you think this would work out as a good shoe for touring Rome, Venice, & Florence with lots of walking. Need comfort, support, and ability to take a beating. (I see that Ken, above, used the Track II Low.)

Yes, I will figure in socks. I also wear a medium weight wool type.

Thanks, Steve, for the info about the Rockport World Tour Walkers. Will take a look at them on the web also.

Posted by
20627 posts

It has served me well for the past seven, eight years. HOWEVER, try the shoe on. While it works well for Ken's and my foot it might not do as well for you fit wise. As far as construction and quality, the ECCOs are hard to beat. It will take a beating.

Posted by
49 posts

My husband and I are crazy for Keens -- they have excellent support and come in a ton of styles, from water shoes to sporty casual leather shoes for both men and women. (I don't work for them, swear!) I have yet to have tired feet or blisters from a pair of Keens and we have worn them everywhere from hiking in Belize to walking all over Rome. You can find many styles on closeout at SierraTradingPost.com, or if you need to try on, go to an REI store -- they carry them.

Posted by
49 posts

PS to Pele -- Have never had to "wear in" Keens much, either, which is a plus in my book. Also, any kind of leather shoe will make your feet happier for a long trek than canvas or synthetics, I think.

Posted by
43 posts

Thank you, Janis and Alex, for the info. I will check them out. We live miles from an REI store so may have to evaluate them solely on their website (no pun).

Posted by
95 posts

My last three trips to Europe (including Italy each time) I used Dunham Shoes. They are made by New Balance and include running technology in a fashionalbe (by my mind--maybe not my wife) shoe. They are the MOST comfortable shoes I have ever worn.

You can get them at New Balance stores or on line from New Balance.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
49 posts

Pele - I find they run a bit small and usually buy a 1/2 size larger, if that gives you any guidance. Definitely check out online sales -- you can get Keens for $55 or $60 instead of $95 or $100. Happy trails!

Posted by
842 posts

Pele, the critical thing about the shoes you wear is the "fit", and taking shoes that are "broken in" is a big part of that.

If you currently have "well broken-in", sturdy shoes that are comfortable, you will need the same thing in Italy.

If you are going to buy new shoes please alot suffienct time to really break these shoes in. You will not regret it!

Posted by
43 posts

Yes, Steve, that is my worry also. I am wearing some Merrels that are "so-so" sturdy/comfort-wise but I have just about broken them in. I am undecided whether or not to purchase something more comfy and supportive, but realize I am running out of time to break another pair in.

Janis - can you be more specific about the name of the Keens you or your husband wear? I looked on-line but there are many styles to pick from. SierraTradingPost has nothing in my size on sale.

John - I will look into NB Dunham Shoes; thanks for the tip.

Posted by
17 posts

Just returned from 17 days in Italy and Switzerland. Both my cousin and I purchased a pair of Clarks Wave Tract model shoes. He wears orthodic inserts and I sometimes have trouble with sore feet. Both of us were amazed at the comfort. We averaged 5 to 10 miles a day walking and I have never had a more comfortable pair of shoes. I wore them for about 2 or 3 days before we left and never looked back. It was extremely hot every day and yet our feet never felt hot or fatigued. I wore Merrells the 2 previous trips and the Clarks are lighter and certainly dressier in appearance. They come in Brown or Black leather. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip. Ciao......Gary

Posted by
43 posts

Gary - thanks for the tip on the Clarks shoes. I will definitely look at these and check them out. Thanks much.

Posted by
632 posts

I second the ecco selection...I was very uncomfortable wearing a NB walking shoe in Scandinavia and I finally gave up and bought a pair of ecco's halfway through our trip..they are called Pacer slip on...and I have never had a better pair of shoes for traveling...extremely lightweight...with light rubber soles (no water leaks)...

http://www.eccousa.com/shoes/mens/casual/pacer-slip-on/2197/detail.aspx

I now wear this shoe for work and for all travel...they's been with me to Helsinki, Russia, London, most of N. Italy and Switzerland (walked on the snow at the top of the Jungfrau Koch), Taiwan and Bangkok and they are going with us on our next trip to France and N. Spain. One thing I forgot to mention....these shoes need no break in...they are soft and flexible from day one...and easy on and off at the airports....

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks Bill, for the tip on Pacer Slip-ons. Will also check these out. It seems that ECCO shoes are pretty high priced to me, but maybe I can find some on sale. I'm a first-time European traveler; previous to this I wore rubber thongs in the Far East - thus all my questions :-))

Posted by
4354 posts

Pele,

My husband LIVES in New Balance shoes, style 925 (you can Google them for a peak - they do change the style # often; probably up to 927 by now LOL, although they have many styles that are similar). He's worn them to Europe several times now (brown leather), and they look great. They're your typical 'brown/black tennis shoes' that everyone in Europe, male and female, seems to be wearing when they aren't wearing $400 loafers and stilettos! For a big, male athletic shoe they are very light. You are smart to be concerned about the cobblestones!

Neither one of us have ever found Ecco or Mephisto shoes that were comfortable for us, but many others love them. The important thing is to try as many brands as you need to. They are the most important thing you're taking...

Posted by
43 posts

Mary - thanks for the info on NB 925's... or whatever #. I am now wearing some NB 330's or in the 300's and must have miscalculated on my width. They are somewhat painful to wear but am trying them w/o socks and maybe I can break them in. This has given me pause about all NB shoes, but I'm willing to take a look. (I think I will need something a little more sturdy than a "sneaker-type" shoe for walking all over Italy, but thanks for the input)

Posted by
53 posts

Ok, I may be ousted for this but I recently got a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers and wore them for several days walking through Chicago and my feet feel great! Before, walking for great distances made my feet sore, even wearing Merrells, Keens and even high end cross trainers. I'm forever sold on the Five Fingers because of the way the shoes allow you to use all the muscles in your feet when you walk for great distances or through rugged terrain, thus not wearing out only certain muscles, which is usually why your feet are sore. Most thick supported shoes restrict the movement of many muscles causing those muscles that do move work twice as hard.

I plan on wearing these where ever I go and especially back to Italy. I'll be in Guatemala this November and I'm going to be packing these to wear in Antigua, which has all cobblestone streets and I know they will do great. I would seriously consider these as an option: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/index.cfm

Posted by
660 posts

I have been turned on to the extra cushy bottom shoes. Skechers calls them "Shape Ups." You can buy plain black ones or running shoe types as well. I have skinny, fussy feet and these have changed my life. I can walk for miles and feel as good as when I took my first steps. And believe it or not - THEY SELL THEM IN ITALY - in nice, expensive shoe stores! Yes, indeed! Italians wear them!

Posted by
43 posts

James, I gotta agree with you there. The Clarks don't have a lot of style points, but then again it's the comfort & support that counts. I won't discredit them until I examine them further.

Kay - thanks for the Skechers "Shape Up" tip. Will take a look. If nothing else it's good to know they have them in Italy. Sounds like a goood Plan B.

Bobby - thanks for the lead on the Vibram Five Fingers; will def look into these. They sound like they have what's needed for long walking days.

Thanks, all, for your input.

Posted by
7639 posts

Those Five Fingers shoes (if you can call them that!) are hideous looking. I was shopping with a friend who tried them on. It looked like she had bear feet. Not bare feet mind you, bear feet. As in the feet of a bear. OMG...I thought I would die laughing.

I have a pair of Sketcher Shape-ups and they are very comfortable. I was considering taking them on my trip to Italy next month, but they would not be useful for the light hiking we plan to do. If you plan to stay on paved areas they would be great.

Posted by
7647 posts

I have been wearing nothing but Skecher Shape-ups for the past year and I simply love them. They are getting really popular in Germany, with one of the higher class shoe stores in Frankfurt, having their main window filled with a display. They are great for cobblestones or regular pavement. I wear them in the rain too and have never gotten wet feet.

I disagree about them not being good for hiking. Have worn them twice to hike up the hill to the Marksburg Castle in Germany, and found them to be outstanding. (those of you who have hiked this hill know how steep it is!) There is not really any reason that they would be unsuitable for hiking that I can see.

Posted by
43 posts

Andrea, I agree with you about the five finger "shoes" that Bobby mentioned. I can't see myself going into even a pizza joint in Florence wearing those things. They may be comfy, but do look like bear claws :-))

I've looked at the Skechers Shape Ups, and am just ambivalent about wearing a "sneaker-looking" shoe for all the activities in Italy - going to a semi-posh eatery and the Vatican, etc. I suppose if Italians wear them everywhere they are OK. I'm tending to lean more to a dressier leather-type shoe such as the ECCO Track II Low or the Rockport World Tour Walker. They just look like they can take more of a beating and would be very substantial.

I do appreciate all your comments!

Posted by
7639 posts

Jo, is the hike up the hill paved? We will be hiking in the Cinque Terre (probably not the really HARD part) and I felt that the Shape-ups did not have enough traction. I have not been to the CT yet, but I don't want to get there and find out my shoes won't work.

Posted by
7647 posts

No, the path to Marksburg castle in Braubach wasn't paved at all, just a steep, dirt trail. I haven't felt like they were lacking traction at all either, as I also wear them in the snow and ice and have felt quite secure walking.

Posted by
4354 posts

Well, like many of us have said, you just have to try a bunch of brands on. New Balance says their shoes run small - I had to go up in width, but ended up not keeping the shoes so I don't really have an opinion on the brand. You should never have to 'break-in' a New Balance shoe. (frankly, I don't remember the last DECADE I had to break-in a shoe...serious hiking boots included...if they don't fit, I don't buy.) Some people love to traipse all over Europe in their Birkenstocks - I LOVE mine, but I limit them to a quick-ish trip to the grocery store; they're way too stiff-soled and hard/non-cushioning for this body LOL! I need more flex. Hate Keen, too, but they're selling beaucoup de shoes. But I love my Tevas...

Funny you mention the Rockports - my husband has those, too. They live in a shoebox. They look like his New Balance, but feel nothing like them. 'HE' gets much more support (in particular) and cushioning from the NB, and hated the Rockports That Soooooo Many People Love. Same thing with Mephistos. [For him, Rockports = bloody-heeled FIRST DAY in Europe - ever - with 5 weeks to go...yea for Tevas with loose heel straps! Those Rockports were a BIG waste of suitcase space :-( Until they 'flew' home via UPS...]

Bonne chance, et Vive la Difference!

Oh, and Bobby in Nashville - we'll know you when we see you ;-D

Posted by
660 posts

I sure enjoyed reading the comments about the Sketcher-type shoes being popular and available in Germany (as well as Italy - where I saw them). Andrea, I haven't worn mine as much as Jo says she has, but I hiked the CT trails in June. Certainly the legs from Riomaggiore (paved)-Manarola and Manarola-Corniglia would be just fine with the Sketchers. The portion from Corniglia to Vernazza is a bit more rugged with loose gravel and rock in parts. For all of these hikes I wore the Asics Gel Kahana running shoe. Asics seem to have a bit more traction and support. (We didn't do the Vernazza-Monterosso hike because it is supposed to be the most rugged of all.)

Posted by
955 posts

I immediately checked out the vibramfivefingers website and almost fell out of my bed laughing! I agree they look like BEAR feet!! I don't care how comfy they are, I don't think I can wear those shoes in Europe, and especially not here at home where people know me.

Posted by
38 posts

On all those cobblestone streets only a good lace up hiking shoe works for us. The thicker the sole the better.

Posted by
43 posts

Mary - you don't work for NB, do you? LOL

Posted by
4354 posts

LOL! You'd think, huh?!? And I don't even like them!

I just live with someone who buys them 2 at a time...;-)

Posted by
280 posts

My husband also swears by the Rockport World Tour Walkers. He has owned two brown pair and is considering buying a pair of black ones for our trip in June of 2011. He also owns Rockport sandals that he loves.

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks Jeanine. The more I look at the World Tour Walker the more impressed I am. I think it has all the features I'm looking for, and would be a great shoe for walking all over the cities of The Boot.

(Up to 44 posts?; wonder if this is a RS thread record? Who knew shoes would be such a dynamic subject?)

Posted by
3 posts

check out www.conversationshoes.com - I found them on a trip to Boston when my feet were killing me, and they are stylish, yet comfortable - wear with socks or not, flexible sole, many colors. I am taking a pair of those with me in September and also fit flops believe it or not for shower, beach, etc. They are awesome, padded and secure for walking, but a sandal.

Posted by
703 posts

I wear trail runners. Much more support than road runners and are lightweight and breathable. Remember, it's the sole structure underfoot that gives you the support, not the upper itself, on those cobblestone streets. You won't look great wearing these with a shirt and tie, but that's not how I travel, so it hasn't been a problem.

Posted by
264 posts

Definitely RUNNING SHOES for me. And either black or gray colored, they don't look as dirty after a while of wearing them. I don't have wide feet so for me ADIDAS.

Posted by
703 posts

I typically wear trail running shoes. They're light and breathable and offer better support than road runners. Remember, it's the sole structure of the shoe that will provide your support, not necessarily the upper. If the shoes provide you a stable platform (especially on those cobblestone streets), then you're feet will be less fatigued. If you are looking for dress type shoes, however, these won't cut it for you. Since I walk from sunup to sundown, these is all that I ever wear and it's been great.

Posted by
1170 posts

I wear CLARKS shoes. They are light-weight and very comfortable. I find them even more comfortable than an athletic shoe. I wouldn't wear a running shoe as this will not be the "look" that you will want to wear and will not always be appropriate. Better to get a really great feeling leather casual shoe and you won't need a second pair. I went to Italy with a broken ankle and my Clarks made that bearable.

http://clarks.zappos.com/

Posted by
1170 posts

@ James and all the Clarks haters...these are incredibly comfortable shoes. They are not the prettiest shoes (Nun like?), but better looking than an athletic shoe. And when traveling to "Nun Central"...I'm just sayin'...

Posted by
2766 posts

I wear Clarks "Air Movers" for the last 10 years in Europe in the summer. Great shoes given my foot style. Guess I don't go to Europe to be "stylish". I go to be comfortable. My several pairs of "Air Movers" were made in England. I do not think they are available anymore now that Clarks has moved its manufacturing off-shore.

Posted by
13 posts

I also wear Clark air movers. I find them very comfortable with little or no break in period. I have wearing these for years. At one time they were made in England but now china, go figure. I still like them.

Posted by
43 posts

Karla - you didn't mention the name of the shoes you found.

Posted by
43 posts

Has anyone tried the "Un-Structured" line from Clarks for extended travel/walking? I just came upon the un.vaughn and un.rouen models in a local store and they seemed to have good comfort and light weight. Don't know about long-term wear.

At this point -- after all your feedback -- it looks like a choice between the Clark "Wave Tract", Rockport "World Tour Classic", or the New Balance MW927.

Unless someone can give me some input on the Un-structured line of shoes, I guess I'll flip a three-sided coin on the above finalists :-))

Posted by
7639 posts

Pele - After trying on the different shoes, only you can decide what feels best to you. Do you have a Nordstrom's store near you? I like to buy shoes there because they can be returned, even after you wear them, if you decide they are not working for you. I have a difficult time finding comfortable shoes. Many shoes that other people swear are comfortable just don't work for me. Before my first trip to Europe I bought a pair of shoes there. After wearing them 2 times I took them back. No problem. I bought another pair I kept.

Good luck!

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks Andrea; unfortunately there is nothing near me. Will try Zappos -I hear they are great to work with. Thanks for the advice.

Posted by
7639 posts

You can also order from Nordstom's website. If you try the shoes you're interested on for fit at another store, you could order from Nordstom's with the same return policy.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi Pele
I was looking at both Clarks Unstructured and Clarks Wave Tract. To me the Wave had a thicker, more cushioned sole so that was my purchase. No regrets at all. Looks good and I feel the thicker sole made the difference walking all day on cobbled streets or hiking in the Swiss Alps......Gary

Posted by
1 posts

Last year for the RS 9 day tour in Istanbul I wore a pair of Naot shoes (Wave design). They looked a lot dressier than sports shoes and could be worn with pants as well as skirts/dresses. (I mention this because I'm a woman with a man's name). We walked almost ten miles one day and did a lot of walking most days often on cobblestones. I never had even so much as a red mark on my feet; no pain and never any blisters. They're a bit pricey ($170) but worth every penny. I don't think I'd wear them though on rocky, rough terrain but for urban travel they are perfect.

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks for the suggestion, Harrie. Thank you all for your input on this question. FYI, my two "semi-finalists" turned out to be the Rockport World Tour Walker and the New Balance 927. After walking around my house, on all types of surfaces for several days, I have made my choice: the NB 927. The deciding factor was comfort and cushioning. I just liked the NB a bit better in those areas. This should not be taken as a promotion for NB or Rockport, as everyone is different and has different needs/feet. Thanks again to all for helping me decide on the shoes that will walk me all over Italy!!

Posted by
500 posts

Mephisto is my favorite. I got my first pair in Amsterdam in 1994 and still have (and wear) them today. They are expensive, about $300, a pair but they can be refurbished every few years and brought back to better than new.

Posted by
4354 posts

(jumping up and down) OH MY GOSH - I WON! I WON! (running to tell husband HIS shoes won) LOL! LOL! LOL! YIPPEE!!! YEE-HAW!!! YEA!!! ;-)

Posted by
43 posts

Yay, Eileen! Your husband and I are "shoemates!" Thanks for your postings. Lisa - sorry - Mephisto just too much $$$$ for me.