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Shoes To Wear Italy April 17-May 1

We are traveling to Italy April 17-May 1st, Starting in Venice and travelling south.

What shoes should I bring?

I do not wear sneakers regularly and wish to get some more stylish options. I have a comfortable pair of walking flats and I am thinking of bringing flat boots. Are heels wishful thinking? Are espadrilles too summery for that time of year?

It said that the average temperatures will range from 50-65 degrees depending on where we are.

Thank you!

Posted by
983 posts

I like sketchers for city walking (The "Go Walk" line). They are so comfortable, have a big cushion on the bottom and with all the uneven cobblestone streets, the flats can feel like they are being poked through after walking 10+miles a day (on average). While on vacation people will often develop Planters Factitious when wearing flat shoes not realizing that this puts strain on the bottom lining of your foot. I would not recommend flat flats, something with a slight heel, if the espadrilles are comfy and you can walk 10 miles in them then take them. I also take a sandal, again with a slight heel for maximum comfort and to avoid an injury.

These are my choices:

http://www.zappos.com/p/skechers-performance-go-walk-4-gray/product/8822686/color/8

http://www.zappos.com/p/aetrex-lori-adjustable-quarter-strap-antique-white/product/8082061/color/26216

Posted by
660 posts

Just so you know, Italians wear very sensible shoes and many wear sneakers. The once fashionable Italian leather shoes are not in style. Absolutely do not consider heels. Too dangerous on uneven surfaces and you will look silly in them. Same for flipflops. Absolutely toss fashion to the winds and wear your most comfortable, supportive shoes. You will be surrounded by Germans, Brits, and other Europeans wearing sensible shoes and traveling clothes. Waterproof boots or shoes might be a good idea if you have room to pack them. Definitely an umbrella and waterproof coat. Venice is not an easy place to get around in with a big suitcase. There are many steep bridges with steps rather than a smooth surface. Hope this helps!

Posted by
120 posts

The fashionable Italians were wearing jeans and colorful sneakers when I was in Italy in 2015, so don't assume you can't get a stylish option in sneakers. As Letizia says, you need to be sure you can walk comfortably for 10 miles over uneven surfaces in any shoe you take, and unless you are very young, cushioning is important. Full length boots would probably be too warm for April, but short boots would probably work. Moderate heels would also work so long as they are block heels and you are used to walking in them. You are likely to have showery weather at times in April, so I'm not sure classic espadrilles would be a good choice, since they don't hold up very well to water. While it's true that you will be surrounded by tourists wearing sensible clothes and shoes, if you care about fashion at all - and it seems you do - you will enjoy your trip more if you feel like you look good.

Posted by
278 posts

Just tried Pikolino's for similar preferences.
Their Peurto Vallarta II is well rated at zappos by some who wore them on their trips to Europe. Well made good looking shoes made in Spain. I have two pair and am about to get the above mentioned.
I also like the Atrex orthotic. Ps. They have a cute sneaker style flat lace up, in metalllic and in dark blue leather, that is not a sneaker, It's stylish but supports and cushions and I put the atrex orthotic in it. Works great.
http://m.zappos.com/p/pikolinos-puerto-vallarta-ii-655-8312l-brandy/product/7934237/color/191

This comes in metallic but not shown in this link.
http://www.pikolinos.com/us-en/vera-w4l-6612.html

Posted by
449 posts

Kay is right.

You should be able to comfortably walk around in a pair of shoes for an entire day. Throw style out the window. I am a man. I say, women's high heeled shoes should not exist. I would want to see on a woman, shoes that let her comfortably or easily walk around. Men don't find it attractive if a woman wears shoes that hurt her to wear and walk in. I don't understand why the sole under the heel part of a show should be higher than the part under the toe; are women trying to make themselves look taller or make men have to carry them?? I have a pair of Altra brand "zero drop" shoes, and a pair of Clarks brand shoes; the only bad thing about either is, both are completely not water resistant. You want something that has good walking-shoe features - flat soled, the sole flexible but thick enough to protect your feet from the ground, an outer and inner layer, the shoe should have laces, foam cushioning at least between the two layers around the ankle part and maybe parts of the sides, good ones have a removable and replcable insole, shoes shouldn't be too worn out before you leave for your trip. At the other wrong extreme, some women wear flat-soled shoes that look grossly flimsy and inadequate.

Posted by
7795 posts

I love Altras as well but they are not stylish and if you are used to wearing heels your Achilles' tendon may be shortened enough that you would need a longer transition period to move to a Zero Drop platform.

Frankly, at this point with you leaving in less than a month, I would not be trying a new shoe combination unless you can get them by this weekend and get some miles in on them. I apologize if that sounds harsh but you need to be shod in dependable shoes you know are not going to cause you issues.

Note to Mike- I just got back 2 weeks ago from a trip to AZ and UT including some light hiking in Natl Parks. I gave the Lone Peak hiking boots by Altra a try (had worn them some around here for winter) and they were excellent. The fabric is waterproof but they have not attached the tongue so it is waterproof - had some water leakage there but they were really comfortable and had good traction on rock. These shoes I can actually usually put on out of the box and go 10 miles.

Posted by
307 posts

At this point, I would not try to break in a new pair of shoes. My traveling shoes have been on multiple trips, are a bit scuffed and not looking brand new, but they are comfortable and I know I can use them for multiple day and many miles.

If you have a comfortable pair of walking flats - well broken in and you like them, go for them. Heels - no, as they take up too much room, and on some of those wonderful cobblestone streets, they might be a recipe for a broken ankle.

We are going in early May to Italy and I will take a pair of sandals - well broken in and comfortable, along with a pair of well-loved flats, and a pair of flip-flops for bathroom/pool duty.

We travel light - carry-on only so my shoe selection is limited.

Posted by
11613 posts

Flip flops and sandals can pick up a lot of street "color", turning your feet black on the bottom. Flats with a good cushion would be my first choice. Many Italians wear sandals, but they are not usually walking the great distances that tourists do during the course of a regular day.

Posted by
278 posts

Hi readers and lovers of comfort shoes,

I found a great article from Ny Times, April 17 2013, for travelers wanting to know the favorite shoes of travel guides all over Europe and Italy. The article compiles a list of notables for every taste and budget.

My own rule as a former RN is that the shoe cannot resemble my old nursing shoes.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/travel/shoes-the-pros-use.html

Posted by
983 posts

Mike L-My Podiatrist actually encouraged me to wear shoes with a low broad based heel and to never wear flats as they can cause fallen arches which causes the ligaments in your foot to stretch causing severe pain . A slight heel is also great for your knees and legs. I can no longer wear cute flats, too much foot pain because they do not have any support. You will see most orthopedic shoes will a slight heel. I buy the cute ones like Aetrix and Orthaheel. I do wear my Orthaheel flip flops all over, even in Europe, because of the support and the physical therapy they provide while on the trip.

Posted by
17156 posts

There's an interesting tip at the end of ttmom12's NYT article. It suggests turning your socks inside out and rubbing them (especially potential pressure spots) with a dry bar of soap.

I read a tip somewhere (possibly even here) about using anti-perspirant on your feet to reduce moisture and blisters.

Posted by
660 posts

Mike, I loved your reply and support for women in sensible attire and shoes. Like another poster said, and rightly so, if it is important to you to feel fashionable, then try doing so with clothes and scarves. You definitely want comfy feet. I know, I know. Sometimes comfy shoes don't quite fit the rest of the outfit. I had to change my outlook on things and finally felt comfortable with the comfy, rugged look. Admittedly, I broke the number one rule of breaking in travel shoes. On our last trip to London, I didn't. They were nearly the same Sacony shoe and style that I have several pairs in. But, something wasn't right. I lost two toenails, blisters galore, and damaged the bones on top of my foot. Foot doctors, really ugly foot boots and a year later I'm mostly healed. Learn from me! Don't make mistakes with your shoes! (Thank goodness I had packed another pair of hiking shoes. Ugly things but so comfy, and but saved me from spending frivolous time with shopping instead of tasting whiskey.)

Posted by
17156 posts

On my first trip to Europe (pre internet warnings about the importance of well-broken-in shoes), I met a young female backpacker who must have taken just a single not-broken-in pair of shoes to Europe. She got blisters and kept trudging along. Eventually the blisters became infected and she needed medical attention. She spent the rest of her trip wearing men's sandal-style bedroom shoes with socks--doctor's orders. It is my goal not to repeat her experience.

Posted by
104 posts

Pmethier, I'll be in Italy just around the time you are!

I will be taking 3 shoes:
Nike Roushe tennis shoes
Clarks espadrille wedges
Birkenstock sandals

Be sure everything is broken in before you go! You definitely don't want to wear new shoes and have to deal with blisters/pain during your trip!
:-)

Posted by
3 posts

I have worn my trusty KEEN sandles for many trips to europe. I recommend bringing at least two pair of good walking shoes so you can rotate them. I am debating on getting another pair of shoes for this next trip or going with my trusty pair of KEEN. They aren't the most fashionable but my feet love them. They are great for wide feet.

Posted by
278 posts

regarding flip flops for the hotel room-airing out ones feet- some have said they will take with them. Thank you for mentioning that. I also wanted to let others know Vionic makes a pair of very very comfortable flip flops with arch support built in, heel area gets very good support and comfort. Not cheap at $94 but on sale they were slightly less of a bite out of my shoe budget. These will be comfy in the hotel room or for a quick switch for a run down the aisle during the longest part of the overnight flight over the pond.

Posted by
278 posts

Hi,
I did some shoe comparisons today as I am not far off from my trip and ended up with Naot's Papaki sandal. I tried them against their Mary Jane style, listed in the blog linked in the posting just above, and the Naot Papaki had more padding where I needed it and better arch support in just that right spot for my feet. I tried the Pikolino Puerta Villarta II that I had posted about above, and the Naot was significantly better with more cushion and arch support. Keens never have fit me. The Naot Papaki has a removable insole and they make an additional thin cushion(fine without it though) that slides under it or you can change the insole, place the insole on top. Fits neatly without being seen. I have to take back what I said about the Pikolinos, love 'em but not as much as Naot's for walking all day.
https://www.naot.com/products/ProductDetails/1395

Posted by
983 posts

ttmom12- I LOVEmy Orthaheel vionic flip flops. I call them my "all day therapy". I developed a really bad case of planters factitious about two years ago and it took about 10 months to heal, and I credit these flip flops. The arch support is amazing and the deep heel really aligns your body. They are pricey but I live in them all summer long and they are really cute. My PF went away about 1 month before my last trip. I take these to Europe for the hotel room and if my heel starts feeling sensitive.

Posted by
278 posts

Letizia,
I just thought I would never wear flip flops again after a bout with PF years ago so I didn't look. I was wrong thank goodness. I wore those this morning around the house to start breaking them in, really like the support and non slip. The straps are skinny with a bit of shine and sparkle, kind of cute. I wear other Vionics but for Italy I don't have a pair I think would work as well as the Naots. But will love these flip flops in the hotel room, remembering how sore and achy my feet were the last time we were in Florence, our first trip. you pretty much need these to soothe them at the end of the day.

Posted by
708 posts

I was in Rome and Tuscany last year at almost exactly the same dates you will be there. Coming from Atlanta where it was already hot, we brought Keens/sandals but I was glad I had my leather Ecco sneakers, which I wore almost exclusively. I was surprised to see the Roman women still wearing jackets and boots! I would have been very happy in jeans and boots but I thought it would be too late in the season for both. (A few years ago I was in Rome in early May and temps hit almost 100. So who knows!?) From my experience last year, espadrilles may be too summery, and unless you have the European gene for crossing cobblestones in stilettos, heels sound suicidal!

Posted by
8 posts

Wow! What a popular topic this is. I personally love shoes and have too many. For touring in Italy I always bring 2 pair, plus good quality flip flops for the apartment. I bring the most comfortable pairs of ankle boots, with one pair usually being very light weight. Bring only high quality shoes that you know can be worn for most of a day. You then have a day to let one pair 'rest' and to let your feet be comfortable in a 'new' pair each day. I always wear light weight socks, just like I would wear at home with the boots. When I say bootsomething I am referring to chukka style or desert boot style.
Fashion is not as important as comfort, but remember that Italians are stylish people, and so don't wear sports or athletic (aka tennis shoes). They are just too gauche for Italy.
By the way, I feel Kay is wrong. Italians are not like sloppy Americans, but I would definitely not wear heels. Cobblestones are everywhere..

Posted by
131 posts

The weather does sound too cool for open-toed shoes. I like the suggestion of stylish sneakers in bright colors. I'm all about fashion - I even used to write about fashion for a top women's magazine - and I'm willing to forgo ultimate style in exchange for comfort (within reason).

I agree that buying a new pair of shoes without testing them on a few very long walks is trouble. You have time to do some road tests, tho, before your trip.

I actually had a stress fracture in my foot last year, 12 weeks before a trip to Europe, and I had to wear flat shoes my entire trip through Italy and Spain. I opted for a pair of Chaco walking sandals in black and another pair with pink pattern straps and they were very comfortable and offered me plenty of arch support. Not the most stylish, but totally appropriate with summer dresses throughout Europe.

Posted by
983 posts

With all the super cute brands that are "orthotic" there is no reason to not be stylish and comfortable. BUT no matter how othodic or special brand you have, walking 12 miles a day, on cobblestones, your going to have sore feet! A change of shoes is a great idea. I like shoes that I can slip on and off throughout the day, because I hate hot feet. I am brand loyal to Orthaheel and Aetrex due to my PF. The Aretrex Sandles are great because most of them have velcro strop across the toes and in the back, so if my feet swell during the day I just re-position the strap. I am just so happy I found these wonderful (for me) shoes.

Posted by
1 posts

I get it. I don't wear sneakers either other than at the gym. When traveling to Europe, I usually bring casual, comfy, cute sandals for walking during the day. I bring a second pair of shoes for dinner which are usually platform wedges. I like to pack dresses. I wear a fresh dress for dinner with my heels. The next day, I wear the dress worn at dinner the previous night with my sandals. All shoes are a neutral color. When looking for which wedges to bring, try to find something with a wider heel base as they are more stable for cobblestone streets. I also recommend rocking on the back heels to get a better sense of how stable they are. I recommend the platforms because if there are puddles on the street, the platform usually gives you the clearance needed so that your toes don't get wet.

I'll be traveling about the same time that you are and am a bit concerned about the cooler weather. I'm trying to focus on finding something in a muted gold metallic as I think it will be versatile. As my daughter tells me, sneakers are actually very trendy now. She actually wears white converse with a black dress and somehow it works. I'm actually thinking of getting a pair of Cole Haan Pinch Weekenders in metallic gold as I think that they will be stylish and dress up my capris. The other thing that I'm going to look for are flatforms. These are basically sandals that have a flat platform ranging 1"-3".

Espadrilles are a lovely idea. My only hesitation is if it rains the jute covering on the base may get discolored by dirt. But something along those lines may work if the shoe has over all stability. Again, rock on the back heels to test.

As a last resort, if you are traveling with a male companion, you can always take his arm as you stroll around as an added safety net.

Lastly, if you find a winner of a travel shoe, when you get back, buy three more for future trips. You won't regret it.

But above all, the shoes need to be comfortable, heel or no heel...

Posted by
449 posts
  1. Move the topic to General Europe.
  2. The poster is not going to a wedding or business meeting or any event that requires dress shoes.
  3. Pick one pair of shoes that will do the job the best. Wear them to the airport. Do not pack another pair. The job is walking around for as many as 12 miles in a day total, sometimes on uneven stone-paved walkways, sometimes up stairs, sometimes on various uneven terraine.
  4. I am a young man. I am in the minority of men who find women's shoes the grossest pieces of clothing. Women seem less smart to me for wearing the shoes you like. You are actually trying to derive satisfaction from walking around in something that inhibits your ability to walk around. You are visiting italy to see the sites listed in your guide book, not worry about which clothes or shoes to bring. A lot of women's shoes should not exist. Pick a walking or hiking shoe that is approximately flat, laces up, has a good amount of foam coushioning. No wedge shoes or sandels. There is no such thing as having to break a pair of shoes in. If they don't feel great in the store before you buy them, prevent yourself from buying them even if you like the style.
Posted by
1151 posts

I usually take three pairs of shoes to Italy.
One lace up pair for all day walking, such as good quality runners or low walking shoes (not boots).
Clarks are my favourite for shoes.
One pair of really supportive walking sandals such as Merrells, Clarks or Keens , also for walking but for warmer days.
One pair of black or dark Skechers Go-Walks for evening and days with less walking. I have a pair that are lacy black, so they look okay at night.
I also bring a pair of rubber flipflops for the room /apartment to let my feet breathe and to be my slippers.
I also take a pumice stone or hard scrubby, to really scrub my feet every evening before bed, then lather on a rich cream.
Your feet will thank you in the morning.
Also, good socks for the closed in shoes.
It might be raining a lot, it might be hot; you don't know.