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Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence

A must-see museum for Ferragamo fans touring Italy

By

Salvatore Ferragamo
Enzo Graffeo / Stringer / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Salvatore Ferragamo Museum Rainbow Shoe
Ferragamo's Rainbow Shoe, By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan
Salvatore Ferragamo Museum Invisible Shoes
Ferragamo's "Invisible" shoes, By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan

Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
(Museo Salvatore Ferragamo)
Palazzo Spini Feroni
At Piazza Santa Trinita 5/R
Florence, Italy
Tel. 055 3562417

Hours: Daily 10 a.m. –  7:30 p.m.;
Closed January 1, May 1, August 15 and December 25.

Admission: 6 euros; children under 10 and adults over 65 are free. (Proceeds from ticket sales used for scholarships for young footwear designers.)

Inside the Museum
Salvatore Ferragamo is a legendary Italian shoemaker known for his eponymous luxury brand of high-quality shoes and the imaginative shoes he created throughout his career. The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum celebrates the shoemaker’s career and iconic shoe designs.

Located at the Ferragamo company headquarters, the museum displays footwear that spans the shoemaker’s career in Italy from 1927 to 1960, as well as footwear produced by the company after his death.

Situated at basement level with dim, cave-like rooms and hallways, the museum showcases a table of Ferragamo’s cobbler tools and groupings of his brilliant designs, such as the “Rainbow” shoes he created for Judy Garland in 1938. The sole and heel of the platform sandal is made of layers of cork lined with bands of suede.

Other highlights include: the “Invisible” sandals Ferragamo created with clear vinyl resin and his signature F-shaped wedge heel in 1947, and the “Caramelle” sandals featuring a colorful cellophane upper and a cork wedge covered in multicolored cotton fabric from 1942. The cellophane shoe sits on top of a tiered display that holds handfuls of cellophane-wrapped candies (but a sign says “Do Not Touch”).

Current Special Exhibit
“The Amazing Shoemaker: Fairy Tales and Legends about Shoes and Shoemakers”
April 19, 2013, to March 31, 2014

The museum devotes a large amount of space to this special exhibit that explores the magic and mystery of shoes and shoemakers in fairy tales, myths and legends like “Cinderella,” “Puss in Boots” and “The Wizard of Oz,” through paintings, videos, music, literature, poetry and illustrations.

A Master of Materials
When leather and high-end materials were scarce in the mid-1930s and through World War II, Ferragamo created imaginative shoes using cheaper materials like cork, cellophane, wool, cotton, string, embroidered hemp and other fibers. Before and after the war during prosperous times, Ferragamo regularly made shoes of luxury materials like reptile skins, furs and even fish skin. A variety of shoes made in these materials are on display at the museum.

About Salvatore Ferragamo
Born in 1898 in Bonito, Italy, Ferragamo pursued his footwear passion early on at age 11 as an apprentice to a Naples shoemaker. At 14, he joined his brothers in America and opened a shoe repair shop in Santa Barbara, Calif. Hollywood came calling and he opened the Hollywood Boot Shop in 1923 and soon became known as the “Shoemaker to the Stars.”

Throughout his career, Ferragamo made couture shoes for a long list of Hollywood movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Paulette Goddard, Gene Tierney and Merle Oberon. To create the custom shoes, Ferragamo used the actresses’ shoe lasts (molds), each labeled with their names.

Ferragamo moved to Florence, Italy, in 1927 so he could work with Italian craftsmen who could construct his designs. He founded his brand in 1928 and officially established the company’s headquarters at Palazzo Spini Feroni in 1938.

After his death in 1960, the company continued on through his wife Wanda and their six children.

Gift Shop
Visitors can purchase souvenirs, shoes, books and other goods at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum gift shop, including an adorable USB flash drive shaped as Ferragamo’s iconic Rainbow shoe. A Salvatore Ferragamo retail store adjacent to the museum store offers current shoes, clothing and accessories from the luxury brand.

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