A Cinderella in Venice: Finding the perfect shoes

I’ve been scouting for the perfect shoes online and ordered at least four pairs in the last two months. Three of them went back to the retailers while the last pair I sold to a friend. Buying shoes online is both tricky and expensive and I usually end up paying more than what I bargained for. In Holland they don’t usually have my size and good pairs come with high price tag.

When my business trip to Venice was confirmed, finding the perfect pair of shoes became my top goal. This was my second time in the city, so I didn’t get overwhelmed by the sights anymore.

After checking in at Hotel Villa Serena in Porto Maghera, I immediately boarded the bus to Venice and went straight to San Marco, the trendiest shopping area in Venice. There was only one thing in my mind – to buy a beautiful pair of Italian-made shoes.

Navigating through the many small alleys in Piazza San Marco is no easy task. Finding the same stores I saw a year ago is even more complicated. Every end of an alley brings you to a completely different square and the problem was, almost all of them looks the same. Towered by Italian houses, connected by small bridges that crosses over tiny canals lined with gondolas, it is hard for a non-local to tell these  streets apart. The signs didn’t help much either, especially to someone like me who is geographically inept.

I went around in circles for hours, passing by designer stores like Gucci, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Hermes and high street fashion houses like Max Mara. They all have the most gorgeous pairs displayed on their windows and a woman can easily spend a month’s salary in them. Their leathers felt so soft and the designs are absolutely adorable. The problem is, they cost a leg and an arm and I just couldn’t afford them.

There was one particular pair though that made me double back. It was a pair of snake-skin pumps, at least 6 inches tall and size 36. I wanted to try it immediately but somehow I got very intimated.

The store is called Cesare Paciotti and inside was a tall, gorgeous woman in a lace dress trying out a pair of sky-high ankle boots.

It’s not that the shoes were very expensive. But when I saw my reflection on the store’s window – small girl in brown cargo pants, white cotton shirt and wearing a purple suede loafers – compared with that lady, I suddenly felt afraid that the sales lady would not even let me in.

That is Venice sometimes, intimidating to those who do not have deep pockets. A gondola ride costs at least €80 and a good meal will set you back €30 euro for one person. I am not the type who penny-pinch when travelling  but there are times when it is unreasonable to spend too much.

So I walk away from the enticing window of Cesare Paciotti and left that little alley, my next salary still secure and my pride a little slighted. Yes, a pair of shoes can hurt a woman’s ego. But I promised to return and buy a most coveted shoes.

An epilogue to the shoe hunt

A little further down that alley, I passed by another shoe store called La Corte Delle Fate and the kind lady entertained me (more of persuaded me) like a queen. The first pair that she gave me not my type, the second was beautiful, matches my specifications and my Viktor, almost the same price but not Cesare Paciotti. So I refused.

Unfortunately, my weak heart gave in to a pair which is currently on a 50% discount so I walked away with yet another pair of suede pumps (I bought one pair of suede loafers the month before). I am still thinking of ways to pair these shoes with my wardrobe, which I reckon would be quite difficult.

I spent most of today in Bassano del Grappa, my favorite place in Italy. I didn’t think that the little city has at least five stores selling locally made shoes. Who am I to resist a pair of dual-colored pumps with such an attractive price tag?

Maybe I am compensating for not entering the Cesare Paciotti store and not even trying a pair. But I am happy with my purchases – two Italian-made shoes which I can use from season to season. I can finally let go of my daily habit of checking out shoes at net-a-porter.com and luisaviaroma.com. At least for a while.

Now my biggest problem is how am I going to fit them in my luggage?