Italian Rules for Shoes and other At-Home Rituals: The Scarpiera (Shoe Garage), No Shoes on the Table and No Bare Feet!
Here's a little tidbit that I just discovered. It's considered uncivilized in Italy not to have a scarpiera.--a shoe garage. A scarpiera is usually a tower shaped piece of furniture to hold one's assortment of shoes. There are very narrow tall ones to fit into tiny apartments common in the big cities. There are some with special tall compartments to hold women's tall boots. There are huge, wall length scarpieri custom made for the people with shoe fetishes and bankbooks big enough to afford their addiction.
Italians tend to be neat freaks. Traveling through Italy sometimes it doesn't appear that way. But they are in fact fairly orderly people in their own homes and lives. Sure, the walls of their own homes, public buildings and even historic monuments might be covered with graffiti, and the streets outside might be polluted with piles of trash because of the recent union troubles, and no one picks up dog poop, and some drive the rustiest, banged up cars imaginable... but inside their homes the story is different. Italians at home are rule bound. There are customs, rituals and many, many rules:
Shoes... filthy things.
It's curious then to me why Italians named that little piece of bread used for sopping up sauce on their plates "scarpetta" (little shoe). You'd think it would gross them out.
So, just remember when in Italy, Italians consider the floor of a home as a ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato) for shoes--and bare feet... And what do they wear on their feet when they're relaxing in the villa famiglia? Ciabatta, of course!
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