Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Francesco Pistelli, 47 years old, can be recognized by his beard and goatee, the tattoos that peak out from his sleeve and his ever present leather apron.

Francesco invents, fixes and resolves every problem related to… Shoes. In other words, he lives a life of long ago, that of a cobbler.

In addition to selling slippers and shoes from local companies, he repairs broken ones. In contrast to the predominant “usa e getta” (disposable), he makes them like new. He does everything, from a small stitch to changing an entire sole, for customers from 0 to 100 years old.

Francesco’s father is Arturo di’ Bichi, “i’ Piste” (his nickname), and from him Francesco inherited the talent of an artisan, professionalism and an outgoing and jovial personality.

These are qualities that he exhibits every day in his century old shop in via Roma 208, in the historic center of Tavarnelle.

“I am fourth generation,” he begins. “Starting in 1996, I managed a commercial business for five years, but I was bored. Then I made two heels and fell in love. I learned how to sew by hand from a friend  and knew some tricks from before”.

“In September,” he tells us, “I started a course in modeling in Monsummano Terme, to learn how to design sandals on a form. I have a project for my own collection, and for now I have created six or seven models of various colors. You can see a preview on my Facebook page, Il Calzolaio“.

“Once they are in the shop window,” he explains, “I will make them to order and make corrections on the foot. They are handmade, comfortable and casual… in one word, ‘giovani’ (young). The leather, Tuscan and vegetable, are also adapted to someone allergic to nickel”.

“A cobbler is an ancient profession,” he continues. “With the invention of plastic, it changed. It used to be more simple: leather, skins and pure rubber were used. Now things are not glued, but polymerized”.

“I like everything about my job,” concludes Francesco. “It gives me the possibility to change, to learn new things. I feel like an artisan, because I work with my head and my hands. Every morning I come to the shop with a new idea and I bring my passion home”.

Noemi Bartalesi