Heel and toe: Pio Colcuc the cobbler of Colle

Amina De Biasio
One step after another, every single day, our shoes accompany us on the path of life. The humble shoe is an important object, and nobody knows this better than Pio Colcuc, who has been a shoemaker in Colle Santa Lucia for most of his lifetime.
There was a moment, a few decades ago, when having a pair of beautiful, well-made shoes was a luxury that few could afford. Then came mass production, big industry and incompetably low prices. But Pio resisted, struggling every day with great passion for his work and a dream.

More than a century has passed since Giovanni, Pio’s father was called up during the Great War. He was in the ranks of the Italian army, based in Turkey, which is where he learned and perfected the craft of shoemaking before returning to his home in Colle Santa Lucia five years later. He married his fiancee Candida, and from this marriage, Pio was born, 91 years ago.

Pio has spent his life doing his dream job, with great passion and dedication. One day Pio, who still spends his days behind the counter in his little workshop, arranging, adjusting, dusting and creating small objects with waste material, is never out of his shop.

There was a time when lots of work went into making a pair of shoes, and it took many hours of labour and concentration. Pio has made so much footwear, in all sizes and types, for parties, for work, for everyday life and special occasions. And he has the typical craftsman’s hands, then you look at them, you immediately understand that over the years they have created so many beautiful things. And it may have caused injuries, hammering the odd finger or cutting yourself with scissors, but the final product was always a quality pair of shoes, the type that we no longer see.

Pio recognizes and tells us about the importance of an almost lost vocation, of how artisans know how to make objects that have a soul, that have an intrinsic value. He knows he is the guardian of a magical art and a tradition that has almost completely disappeared in the name of economic progress. And it is precisely for this reason that passing through Colle Santa Lucia and having a chat with him is a must. Pio should have a chance to tell his story, go and touch one of his shoes, observe the wooden nails, see how such a valuable daily object for us that used to take many hours of hard work and talent from people like Pio. It is essential to drop in and say hi, even if only to make him smile. Enjoy the smile of this mountain man who has lived his whole life here and continues each day to live it with simplicity and authenticity in his favourite place, between old sewing machines, leather cuttings, old shoes and tools.


Photo credits: Capitale Cultura

"To make a pair of well-made shoes took 18 to 20 hours of work!" - Pio Colcuc