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Sebastiano: the doyen of the historical shoemakers of the Castelli Romani

1850: this is the year in which, according to the director of the Diocesan Archives of Velletri, the Ciarla family started the shoemaking business. But let's go in order.

(Lidia Casaldi, class of 1929 at the current store in Corso della Repubblica)

The history of the Ciarla family begins in the early nineteenth century with Domenico, farmer, who had a reversal of fortune for which his son Pasquale, born in 1806, abandoned his father's work and in 1836 moved with his wife and four children in the historical center of Velletri, in Via Collicello. At this point, according to what results from the Diocesan Archives, Sebastiano Ciarla, born in 1829, shoemaker by profession, in 1851 married Maria Geltrude Mattoccia. Therefore it is certain that at least from 1850 Sebastiano is a shoemaker of Velletri.

To those times to make the shoemaker meant to manufacture shoes on measure and to repair thousand times the shoes that were worn out.

At one time the "salvatacchi" were nailed laterally on the heels, in the shape of metal half-moons, and on the tips of the shoe were nailed metal tip protectors, triangular in shape, which avoided the rapid consumption of these two important parts of the shoe, while on the entire outer sole were often put nails with a shank cut with a square truncated-pyramidal or elongated head, called "centrelle", which made the shoes almost eternal. which made the shoes almost eternal because only these nails wore out and not the sole.

Unfortunately, heel savers, toe savers and centrelle caused not only an annoying metallic noise on the pavement of streets and floors of houses but they were also the cause of dangerous slips for lack of adequate friction between the sole and polished surfaces. Vice versa the "centrelle" helped to walk well on dirt roads, wet and slippery because they favored a greater adherence of the shoe.

Sebastiano's shoemaker's store is in via Portella, near piazza Mazzini, and there goes to work very young his son Amedeo, born in 1871, who continues the activity of his father, as well as Sebastiano, Amedeo's son, born in 1911.

So we arrive at the end of the Forties when the industrial production of shoes begins (Olympiadi, Ursus, Valentini, etc.). Thus, after having been for centuries a country - we mean Italy - of cobblers, in the Fifties the shoe industry begins its great development that will bring it, in a few decades, to reach the top of the world. Shoes, after having been for centuries and centuries an exclusively artisan product, are produced with a thousand different materials and with all kinds of colors and shapes. The shoe loses its primary function of protecting the foot and becomes synonymous with fashion.

It is the time when Sebastiano with his son Amedeo, in addition to continuing to produce handmade shoes, begin to sell commercial shoes in the markets of neighboring countries.

(Sebastiano, class of 1911 - market)

So we arrive at the sixties, when the small store in Via Portella becomes the big shoe store in Corso della Repubblica and, in the early seventies, his son Amedeo, born in 1957, enters the family business and successfully continues the family tradition that will continue with Sebastiano, Amedeo's son, born in 1993.

(Sebastiano, born in 1911 - store in Corso della Repubblica)

It is evident that 170 years of history are a loro and there are many anecdotes that can be told. The most famous one is related to Sebastiano and to the famous brigand Cencio Vendetta who in 1858 stole the image of Madonna delle Grazie. A very serious fact, told with a lot of details by the newspapers of the time, and in which they were involved (it seems) also a canon of the cathedral that was beaten to blood by Sebastiano Ciarla that, for this reason, was locked up in jail for some days. Quite different was the destiny of Cencio Vendetta, executed in 1859 by the famous master Titta in piazza del Trivio.

His son Sebastiano, Amedeo was one of the founders of the Cassa Agricola Operaia Pio X in 1904, which in 1937 changed its name to Banca Popolare del Lazio. Well, the founding members at the first meeting brought chairs from home and after a brief discussion decided to found this bank that has played a fundamental role in the economic development of this territory.