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North by Northeast

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-24 17:42

We visit Montebelluna, near Treviso, and discover a fascinating museum which traces the history of sports shoes through the ages

North by NortheastAs Italians pack their bags and head towards the mountains for their annual winter sports' week we take a trip to Veneto, the capital not just of sunglasses but trekking shoes and snow boots. We're in Treviso, home of footwear giants Tecnica and Nordica as well as a plethora of small companies that provide sports shoes for the whole of Italy. We're here to visit the Sports and Trekking Shoe Foundation and Museum (Fondazione Museo dello Scarpone e della Calzatura Sportiva) in Montebelluna, just a stone's throw from Treviso. The Museum is housed in Villa Zuccareda Binetti, a recently restored villa dating from the 16th Century, where we met one of the curators Marco Mancin.

IP: How did the Foundation come about?
Marco Mancin:
The Foundation was first set up thanks to the efforts of a group of shoe factories in the Montebelluna area. They felt the need to record what had been happening in the area since the start of the 19th Century - from the very first trekking boots right up to the present day which sees Montebelluna as an international market leader in a wide range of sports shoes.

IP: What are your most prestigious exhibits?
Marco Mancin:
I'd say Alberto Tomba's prize-winning ski-boots as well as the ones Zeno Colò wore all those years ago. They both wore boots from Montebelluna. Another prized exhibit are the mountaineering boots Ardito Desio wore when he became the first person to reach the summit of K2 back in 1954. Not forgetting the weird but wonderful "giant snow boot", which is over one metre long and 100 kilos heavy and believe it or not is an exact reproduction of a ski boot from the 1950s!

IP: And your earliest example of ski-boots?
Marco Mancin:
The first real models of ski boots date back to the 1930s, even if it's hard to say who was actually the first to manufacture them. We've dedicated a whole room to the start of skiing as a popular sport.

IP: Describe an average visitor to the Museum.

Marco Mancin:
We've got lots of different types of visitors: from school trips (including PhD students and academics who are generally more interested in the Foundation's extensive library) to designers, technicians, graphic designers and anyone interested in shoe design and manufacture. They all come here in search of ideas and inspiration.

IP: Any advice for potential visitors on local restaurants (with local specialities, of course) and hotels in the area?
Marco Mancin:
Just go towards Montello, the little hill behind Montebelluna and drive down the first lane (locally known as prese) that takes your fancy - they're full of agriturismi (farmhouse restaurants and hotels) where you'll be able to taste the best of our local cuisine. I'm not joking, there must be one every 200 metres, the choice is endless!

From culture to traditions to delicious food - You've no excuse for not heading North-East. And forget the classic tour of the Palladian villas. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Links - - The official site of the Sports and Trekking Shoe Foundation and Museum. (In Italian only.)
Restaurants in the Montello area
Palladian villas - - Unesco's site dedicated to these magnificent villas
Treviso - - Treviso's tourist website
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