Break Out of The Mold with This Stylish Leather Suitcase

PARETO Rugged Leather Suitcase
PARETO Rugged Leather Suitcase
PARETO Rugged Leather Suitcase

Travel. Close your eyes and think of a destination. If you have a Pinterest account your mind is probably full of exotic destinations you would like to explore, some day, maybe soon. Maybe one of those amazing spots is within driving distance and you picture yourself getting ready to get in the car or SUV with your dear ones.

As I write this I am starting to imagine taking a short vacation to Lake Tahoe (about a four-hour drive from Silicon Valley, double that with traffic but I am not allowed to think about that right now) with my family. We are going to meet our friends who also have kids the same age as ours and we are going to have a great time.

I picture myself offloading the bags from the trunk in the chilly air and I see the wheeled, hard shell suitcase that works so well in airports… not so well in the snow. Plus… It’s not my style. Rewind.

Now I see myself reaching for the PARETO, who packed this thing? I have to finally use those muscles, luckily I also have a full GIRAMONDO to balance me out. It’s snowing, but I waterproofed both bags using the best leather cream in the world. I greet my friends, they notice my bags. I refuse their offers to help: maybe they can get some of the small stuff.

PARETO Rugged Leather Suitcase
PARETO Rugged Leather Suitcase

I get to our room, begin unpacking, “these bags are great” I think to myself. “Who’s hungry for dinner?” I proclaim as I take out a bottle of my favorite wine and bring it to the kitchen. I have something memorable in mind for dinner, it’s getting dark, the fireplace is crackling, the kids are playing, laughter erupts. I start cooking with my friends and think: “it’s going to be a good night.”

Kids Shoes Only Last A Few Months. Unless…

…they are made right.

As a parent, kids shoes drive me a bit crazy. On one hand, you don’t want to spend too much on shoes because you know that your child will quickly outgrow them, but you know that the cheap ones will start unraveling within a week, and doesn’t your child need something decent on her feet?
I have inspected the signs of wear and tear on Chiara’s shoes and for a while become convinced of torturous games going on at the playground. In my case, when Chiara was four she started coming home with sand and pebbles packed at the bottom of her shoes. I started envisioning a bully dragging her across the sandbox. Luckily one Saturday I got to watch her and her friends take their shoes off and fill them with sand.

But another question remained: why are the frontal parts of her shoes all scraped? Except for seeing her dragging her shoe-tops while riding her scooter, I have no idea how it happens. Whatever the dynamic, it is definitely one of her favorite activities, and most shoes give in like cheese through a grater.

In an effort to do better, a year-and-a-half ago we gave Chiara a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. I did expect for them to last longer, but I did not expect them to last this long. The sandals are practically new and I will probably hand them down to somebody who is interested. The sneakers are scraped in front but the leather is holding up and I don’t foresee a hole forming.

Maledetti Toscani Shoes A Year Later

Last year I got not one but two pairs of Maledetti Toscani shoes: the STUPENDO and the TOSTA. What happened as a result? My other shoes got almost no action over the last twelve months. Sorry.

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots zipper
The STUPENDO Handmade Leather Ankle Boot with zipper open

Maledetti Toscani shoes are simply a few notches above regular shoes and once you get them you and your feet will only want to wear them. It is hard to explain why. I think two factors come together that produce a wonderful combination: style and quality. The STUPENDO are stunning: when I wear them, or see them on my friends who also got them, my thought invariable is: “wow, those are some good looking shoes”. The beautiful distressed leather exudes an understated elegance that is very captivating. The TOSTA, instead, are much flashier and noticeable because of the color, but because of their color they need to be more carefully matched with clothes that get along. I have a pair a gray jeans from Scotch and Soda and they make a match made in heaven.

The quality appears to be really high. After a year the construction is still like new. The leather on the STUPENDO is more beautiful than ever, while the silver on the TOSTA has worn off a bit giving it a little bit of a worn-in look and definitely not a worn-out look yet. Both shoes look like they will be with me for a while.

TOSTA Silver Sneakers
The TOSTA Silver Sneakers Looking Good!

If I had to choose just one pair, I would go with the STUPENDO because they are timeless. If you know me you would know that I prefer timeless over stylish, though not by such a landslide that I don’t touch anything stylish… In general, the STUPENDO are more versatile and they embody traditional Italian shoe craftsmanship in such a way that I am confident that they will last me a long time. I look forward to writing many blog posts about them over the next ten years. :-).

My STUPENDO Maledetti Toscani Shoes After Four Months

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots zipper

After four months of wearing my distressed Maledetti Toscani ankle boots I have two thoughts: they look even cooler, and they are starting to mold around my feet.

Fall has arrived. Actually Northern California winter has arrived. It is cold enough to wear jeans and so I wear my STUPENDO Ankle Boots at least 3 times a week with great pride and it is a pleasure to feel the artisanship on my feet.

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots zipper
The STUPENDO Handmade Leather Ankle Boot with zipper open

To ensure that I properly tested them, I took them on most of my long walks pushing Marco’s stroller. The park is pretty far so the round trip is a solid forty minutes. Despite what could prove a relationship-ending test, the fire has endured and I am still in love with the shoes. As I was saying, although the shoes felt stiff at first and I was considering a rubber sole, with time they started to mold around my foot and now the thought of rubber soles does not return.

I have gotten to know the ankle boots well: the zippers occasionally come a few notches undone and I have to pull them back up. I was getting ready to warn customers of the flaw, but, in reality, it only happens occasionally and they don’t unzip so much that the boot becomes loose. The other thing to know is that if you are holding a baby and want to slip these on… it won’t work (unless you really force the issue at the risk of deforming the shoes). A long shoe horn can come to the rescue in this case. I have learned to put the baby in the car seat and then put my shoes on.

After four months it is time for me to polish them. But when is life going to hand me fifteen minutes to do that? Even without a polish, they still look very good. My best friend said he would gladly wear a pair. He has wide feet, we are going to try going a size up and it should work out. I have average-width feet and the shoes feel roomy, but not cavernous.

I recently talked to someone who wandered why pay more for a pair handmade shoes. I looked at his TV and asked him why did he pay more to have a 70″ TV? The pride, quality, and design that go into these shoes deliver an experience that the other shoes simply do not. That is why.

Maledetti Toscani

My first interview with Alessandro revolved around finding out more about Maledetti Toscani. Alessandro began by giving me a little bit of his family business’s history and then elaborated on how his family has, since 1848, defended the true made in Italy, which, he defines, is a label that should only be allowed when something is really entirely made in Italy (not somewhere else for the most part) and by a company legally operating in Italy who employs legal Italian workers.

Finding companies that embrace this philosophy has been extremely hard but it is a philosophy that matches ours completely. So we are elated to do business with Maledetti Toscani. The point may seem extremely simple. But it is not simple at all. Companies taking advantage of the fact that they can say something is made in Italy while it is mostly made in China, India, or Bangladesh are allowed to make false claims about their products. Since “Made in Italy” implies a certain type of skilled craftsmanship, environmental concern, and respect for worker rights, being able to apply the label while getting the product made somewhere where these aspects are bypassed means that the consumer is led to perceive something that is extremely far from the truth.

One of the pillars upon which we founded our company is authenticity. Authenticity is the word we use to also mean honesty and integrity. If we allowed anything that is not 100% made in Italy be described as being 100% made in Italy we would be breaking our promise to our customers and to ourselves: we would be straying from our beliefs for the sake of following the easiest road to profits. That is why we recognize that profits will only come for us when we have delighted our customers with integrity: so we treat profits as a byproduct of helping our customers be confident when they buy from Marcopoloni, not as a primary goal. I will talk about that in greater detail later, for now go check out some Maledetti Toscani shoes and watch this genuine video.

Three Months with My First Pair of Maledetti Toscani Shoes

In my previous reviews about the TOSTA Silver Leather Sneakers I talked about how much I fell in love with them. Now that I have had them for three months I am starting to get to know them a little better. One thing is for sure, I like to wear them with long jeans so I did not bring them to Italy where I was expecting it to be really hot, and I couldn’t wear them here in San Jose when it was pretty hot until the middle of August. By the time the weather cooled just a little bit I was really anxious to wear them again. I do not know how to express this but my feet were longing for the time I would be able to wear them: they’re just absolutely in love with these shoes.

After three months of use I am starting to get to know them and here are my impressions. It took a little while for the shoes to break in at the beginning: they felt a bit stiff, but that is normal in new shoes and part of if was caused by me tying my laces too tightly. Figuring out exactly how tight to tie them took a little while. If they are too tight it will hurt your ankle and if they are too loose they will easily come undone. Part of the fear of tying them comes from the silver dust that you generate when you tie your shoes during the first few days of use. By now I expected all of the silver to be gone from the the top of my laces but it looks like some of it will stay–enough to still look silver and not completely brown.

Yesterday I walked for more than two hours with them because I took Marco along to get the car serviced and then we went for a really long walk while we waited. That was after we had taken another walk to the park in the morning. I think that because the weather was cooler, it didn’t reach 80 degrees, I didn’t get hot and uncomfortable so I didn’t get tired at all. I felt that my Maledetti Toscani shoes were broken in and fit perfectly snug.

Ultimately, the reason why I love my TOSTA Silver Leather Sneakers is that I believe they look great on me when I wear my distressed gray jeans. Feeling like you are wearing something cool is priceless.

Maledetti Toscani Shoes for My Birthday

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots

On August 25 I suddenly realized that it was my birthday. It was a sudden realization because we had already celebrated with friends over the week-end, and now it was just another boring and busy Monday. Then, I had another realization, and this one wasn’t as exciting: I am finally older than my shoe size. Well, that, along with the many MP bucks I accumulated over the years [note: I have gone on a bit of a spending spree this year and my balance is getting a bit low], pointed to a very simple decision. I need to celebrate this stupendous occasion with a pair of STUPENDO.

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots
STUPENDO Artisanal Italian Leather Ankle Boots

This is my second pair of Maledetti Toscani shoes in three months. But it is totally justified: I just happened to read the you shouldn’t wear the same shoes two days in a row because shoes need to breathe so I had let my TOSTA take a breather. Since I had every objection covered I went ahead and got them. So how did they feel?

Just like the TOSTA, the STUPENDO feels stiff and it doesn’t seem to provide much arch support. It also makes me worry that the zipper will open on its own. On the other hand, the leather looks like it can take the abuse and regenerate (unlike the TOSTA which is not going to regenerate its silver shine if you rub it off).

Despite the fears, I love wearing the boots for their looks. They are a dressy casual that I really love and I can certainly feel the difference, as I wear them, between these shoes and the cheaper ones I used to buy. My Italian feet can finally be happy. I am going to wear them on my long walks and see if they hurt my feet.

Oh, and my birthday turned out to be fun. Peggy brought a wonderful cake and we had a fun afternoon at the office. This was definitely a good birthday!!

Chiara And Her Italia Artisanal Leather Sandals

When the Maledetti Toscani shoes arrived we received three models of children shoes that we wanted Chiara and Marco to wear. Marco doesn’t walk yet and his foot is smaller than the smallest size we got: he will have to wait until fall. Chiara instead still fits in the largest size Italia leather sandals.

Although Chiara doesn’t spontaneously say “thank you” or “daddy, this is one amazing pair of shoes” she did say that they are “super-comfortable” but, what is more telling, she wore them every day she was allowed to do so (they don’t allow open toe shoes at summer camp).
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The sandals have already taken their share of abuse. In Italy we have to walk a lot (one of the reasons why Italians care so much about shoe quality) so the sole is dirty but still shows no wear and tear. Other than walking the shoes seem to have undergone a rigorous series of tests: jumping, landing from heights in excess of four feet high, skipping, hopping on one or two feet, forwards, backwards, sideways, running, walking on ledges, balancing on narrow platforms, swinging, sliding, climbing, and some other things that I cannot possibly imagine that resulted in some little scratches on the upper part of the sole, the part that comes in contact with the foot.

The upper part of the sandals and the straps are still in surprisingly good shape. They still look beautiful and clean, even though they are mostly white and they went through the above multiple times (almost daily).

I am happy to have given her such joy. She feels like a princess and is happy to wear them. I really hope that she will outgrow them and that they will be able to be handed down.
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Maledetti Toscani Is 100 Percent Made in Italy

At Marcopoloni we are 100 percent committed to offering authentic products.  We started the business with that goal and over the last ten years we have seen countless companies say that they offer Made in Italy, experienced, artisanal quality while, in reality, they were cutting corners every step of the way. Some hide behind the requirement that at least 60 percent of the value of the product needs to be Italian to be allowed to put made in Italy on the label; some use inexperienced immigrant labor; some use cheaper leather; some use industrial processes; and many use a combination of all of the above.

While we respect the ability of such businesses to make money, we feel that cutting corners results in a different product and a different experience for the customer. If you think that Parmesan cheese made in Wisconsin is the same as Parmigiano Reggiano made in Parma or Reggio Emilia, please move on elsewhere because you will not find any cheap imitations here.
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While at dinner, Alessandro Quadri (one of the owners at Maledetti Toscani) and I decided that it is time for us to go beyond just talking about the difference, we need to show the difference. During the next two days I hope to document as much of it as possible.

I Love My New Italian Leather Sneakers

Was I excited about receiving our first shipment of shoes on Thursday? You bet, especially since I was going to make at least one pair mine. I was also really hoping not to become disappointed as my expectations were getting to be extremely high.

That definitely did not happen this time. Although my TOSTA silver sneakers did not quite look like the shoes I had seen in the pictures provided by Maledetti Toscani, their quality simply blew me away.

TOSTA Italian Leather Sneakers Marcopoloni Man
The TOSTA Italian Leather Silver Sneakers are definitely Marcopoloni Man approved.

The first time I wore them they felt pretty tight and I noticed that the strings would lose some of the silver when I tightened them. They also felt stiff here and there. Luckily, my worry that they wouldn’t break in soon dissipated though. After a few days they loosened up a lot and they only felt stiff against my toes when I bent them as much as possible. I will confirm that this has gone away in a future post, for now let me tell you what my first impression has been.

The shoes go great with the dark blue jeans and with the distressed gray jeans I have. I actually bought the gray ones hoping that they would pair well with the sneakers. I couldn’t be more pleased. Not only do they look great, they also feel great. When I am not wearing them my feet long for the next time I will put them on. There is a love affair going on, one that I expect to last a very long time.