Along with trying local food and discovering local art, one of the favorite things to do in Italy is shopping. Since footwear is one of the first things you think of when it comes to fashion, learning how to say and buy shoes in Italian is pretty important.
Since clothes and fashion are some of the things Italy is most known for, I’m sure that when you think of shopping during your trip, trendy outfits will be on top of your list, probably second only to food specialties.
Whether you are shopping for yourself or for some souvenirs from Italy to bring home, a pair of shoes from Italy is always appreciated.
Shoes in Italian for men, women, and kids – Translation + pronunciation
These are all the shoe names you would need to know if you go shopping in Italy. Apart from some shoe types such as stilettos, the shoes in Italian mainly have the same names whether they are for men, women, or children.
Sandali – Sandals
In Italian, “sandali” is a broad term to refer to open summer shoes. Whether they are flat or with high heels, if you don’t know the exact word, you can call these types of Italian shoes “sandali” and everyone will understand what you mean.
In terms of shoes, I’m the most Italian among Italians. In fact, apart from a pair of Adidas sneakers, I only wear Italian shoes. Some of my favorite brands for sandals include Nero Giardini and La Gatta con gli Stivali. Nero Giardini is a bigger brand, while La Gatta con gli Stivali is a smaller local company, but both are Italian made in Italy.
Décolleté – Court shoes, pumps, stilettos, and sling-backs
This is also a broad term to indicate different shoe styles. It includes the sling-backs Chanel-style, the high-heeled elegant court shoes, the chic stilettos, and the more comfortable pumps.
To refer to all these types of shoes in Italian we borrow the broad term “décolleté” from the French.
Mocassini or francesine – Loafers
This is such a versatile type of shoe. In Italy, we wear them with long trousers, Capri pants, and also with long or midi skirts. These are easy shoes to wear in summer and winter, so you will find them in the shops in Italy all year round.
Many brands like my favorite Luca Grossi, in fact, make loafers also for winter. They are very elegant and can be also warm. Italian winter, especially from center to south and in the islands, is hardly rigid, so a pair of winter mocassini can be worn for most of the season.
Ballerine – Ballet flats
One of my favorite types of footwear, ballet flats shoes in Italian are known as ballerine. These are mainly spring or summer shoes, but you can use them also in the fall if it’s not raining. I don’t use them in winter because I don’t find them warm enough, but in spring, I match them with pretty much all my clothes, from Capri pants to midi skirts.
You can obviously buy ballerine shoes in Italian also for little girls. Our favorite brand for children’s shoes in Italy is Primigi.
Espadrillas – Espadrilles
To refer to this type of shoes in Italian we borrow the term from the Spanish language. Even if they can be quite tall, they are comfortable and perfect if you are invited to some countryside party or lunch.
Scarpe da ginnastica – Sneakers
If you want to buy a pair of “scarpe da ginnastica” shoes in Italian, you can really simply call them sneakers because they will understand you everywhere. In fact, the term “sneakers” has been widely adopted across the country to mean all types of sports shoes.
I have a few pairs because some are my walking shoes and some are more elegant so I use them when I dress casual style but not really sporty.
These are common for both men and women and also, or especially, for children and kids. So you will find them in most shoe shops in Italy, maybe except for the stores that specialize in elegant shoes.
Infradito – Flip flops
To refer to the flip-flop shoes in Italian we use the word “infradito“, which literally means between fingers. There are both elegant and casual infradito. I always wear them to go to the beach because I find them more practical than slides or slipper-like shoes.
I also love the jewel-type of infradito shoes, they are very elegant and perfectly match all types of summer outfits.
Ciabatte or Sabot – Slides or slippers
With the term ciabatta (plural, ciabatte) or the French word “sabot”, we mean the slides where you can just slide in. You will find them in all shoe shops in Italy in all types of versions, whether they are beach footwear, casual dressing, or elegant and with high heels.
The shoes that we call ciabatte, usually, don’t have lace on the back of the feet.
Stringate – Laced shoes
By stringate shoes in Italian, we mean all the types with laces. Sometimes, some of them are really borderline with the more elegant style sneakers, especially the ones by Nero Giardini, some others are more similar to ankle boots but with laces.
The shoes that in Italian we call stringate can also be those that have the shape of ankle boots but for more casual occasions than fancy ones.
These shoes are very common for men in both the elegant version, so what they usually wear with a suit, and also more casual Camper-style. My husband loves the Italian brand of Igi&Co that sells many stringate shoes in both elegant and casual styles and they are very comfortable.
Zoccoli – Mules or clogs
These are sort of ciabatta-style shoes but with wedge heels. They are slightly similar to the espadrillas but they usually look bulkier and less elegant.
Stivali – Boots
Most types of boots-type shoes in Italian are called stivali. I say most because stivali usually reach beyond the ankle, so at least up to the calf, below the knee, and even above the knee.
Obviously, all types of boots, whether they are elegant, casual, flat, or with heels, are still called stivali in Italian.
Stivaletti, Tronchetti, Anfibi – Ankle boots
These are also a type of stivali, but since they stop at the ankle, they are called stivaletti or tronchetti. They can be with heels, flat, elegant, or casual, they keep the same name.
To translate ankle boots, we also have another term in Italian: anfibi. These are the bulkier version of these types of shoes, sort of “military” style, but not that bulky. They are hardly elegant, though, more for a casual outfit.
Stivaletti texani – Cowboy boots
You know what these are! They usually have a bit of a thick heel, but whether they reach the ankle or the knee, we still call them this way.