When we lived in Italy years ago my mom wore pumps everywhere we went including the snowy alps.
This was most likely the start of my walking like an Italian obsession.
I can sit for hours in a café in a piazza anywhere in Italy watching the locals walk. It is fun to see the swagger, the camaraderie, the high heels, the coats slung over the shoulders of the men. You will see scarves on men and women tied in a hundred different ways. The young are helping the old. Lovers are walking so close it is almost like they are one. Kids dressed to the nines are running alongside women in 6 inch stilettos.
They walk making sure to keep the sun out of their face so they won’t get “mal di testa” (a headache) from the sunlight.
While I stumble over the cobblestones in my flat ballet slippers Italian women take the path of least resistance by walking with confidence on the only smooth stones on the street. Often they walk down the middle of the street, knowing that the Vespa’s will fly around them and cars will blast their horns letting them know they need to move over. They may or may not respond to the driver’s warning by moving aside, but if they do they will move back to the middle of the street once the cars have passed.
Only in Italy would the Park Service need to put up a sign telling hikers that they are not allowed to wear heels on the hiking trails. Not that that stops them.
I have seen women traipsing along in high heels on the trails in Cinque Terre not just on the flat paved Via dell’ Amore where there are hand rails to help walkers along but on the narrow dirt path between Manarola and Corniglia. Once in Corniglia these high heeled hikers walk up what must be close to 500 steps to the top of the town.
In Rome I saw a member of the “polizia” directing traffic wearing a helmet and white 3 inch heels never missing a step or a hand signal. There is no reason to let your job prevent you from looking your best at all times, no matter what you are doing.
And then there are the strikes that seem to spring up at a moment’s notice. One minute you are walking on a quiet street and the next it is filled with demonstrators with some complaint or another. There are also the random parades that you see where people are dressed in costume for reasons that are never explained.
Since Italians rely on their feet to get around you will see people carrying all manner of things needed in the course of daily life.
But the thing I like best are the evening walks “the passeggiata” where Italians come out after supper and stroll slowly through a town, along a promenade or through the main piazza. They window shop, share an ice cream cone, they converse quietly among themselves or loudly in big groups. They see and are seen. It is such a nice way to end the day.