If I’m not counting the visit to Museo del Duomo included in the general price ticket when visiting the Cathedral, the only museum I intentionally visited during our visit to Firenze, was The Salvatore Ferragamo museum.

As a former art history student, I was well aware of the fact that Uffizi gallery or Galleria dell’Accademia should be on my list but being interested mostly in Renaissance architecture, traditional Italian food and contemporary lifestyle I decided to skip the formal tourist education, and do the informal one. After all fashion IS a form of art, right?

While the boys spent few hours alone wondering the city while I gasped over the beautiful shoes and dresses.

Salvatore Ferragamo was born in 1898 in the Campania region of Italy to Antonio Ferragamo and Mariantonia of the same surname, as that was often the case in such small towns. He was the 11th of 14 children and one can only imagine his childhood spent in worn out shoes of his brothers or sisters. He was only nine when he made his first pair of shoes.

After a year of studying shoe making and opening a small store in his family home, he moved to Boston in USA where some of his brothers were already working in a cowboy boot company.

Shortly after he moved to California where he actually made fame and fortune. He started with a shoe repair shop and made-to-measure shoes that lead to a long period of designing footwear for the cinema.

In 1927 he returned to Italy and settled in Florence where he began to create fashion shoes for famous women like Eva Perón and Marilyn Monroe.

At the time of his return to Italy, his future wife, Wanda, was just 6 years old. He married her in 1940 and together they had twenty years of family life raising six children.

Wanda Ferragamo played a crucial role in Salvatores life. As his marriage partner she gave birth to six children. Professionally she was the one that took over the company business after his sudden death from cancer in 1960.

On the right is the thank you note to Signora Ferragamo from Lady Di

Together with their eldest daughter, Fiamma, Wanda and the rest of the family have turned from a footwear company to a ready-to-wear and fashion wear with expanded product lines, like scarves, watches, bags etc.

The museum dedicated to the life and work of Italian shoe maker Salvatore Ferragamo, was established in 1995 in the historic Palazzo Spini Feroni, which was purchased by Ferragamo in the 1930s.

Visited by more than 20 000 fashion connoisseurs and shoe lovers, the museum contains 10 000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960.

The museum also includes films, press and advertising materials, clothes and accessories from the 1950s to the present day.

From early 2000, with the scope to make the museum as dynamic as the life of its creator was, different exhibitions are held within the museum space.

Prototypes of shoes created by Fiamma Ferragamo, 1961-1963

The inspirations are drawn from Ferragamos professional and private life and connected than to the different cultural expressions such as art, architecture, design etc.


From 1960 until her death on 19 October 2018, Wanda Miletti Ferragamo was the head of the Salvatore Ferragamo brand, constantly seeking a balance between her work and family. In August 1960, when her husband died, instead of closing the business, she decided to transform an artisanal workshop for women’s shoes into a fashion house, where her children could continue the tradition of innovation and creativity that Salvatore had begun. A reserved woman, Wanda Ferragamo did not like to talk about herself or boast of her success. This is why we have decided to honor her memory with an exhibition.


The exhibition named Donne in equlibrio / Women in balance 1955/1965 held between September 2022 and September 2023 examines the complexities of what it was to be a woman in Italy between the fifties and sixties, when Wanda changed the course of her life by taking over her late husbands legacy.

Palazzo Spini Feroni: The headquarters of Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. in Florence

Lisetta Carmi, photographs shot in Sardinia, 1962

”Through objects, clothing, works of art, videos and photographs, the exhibition traces the activities and choices of women of different ages, including those who gained entry to fields of work previously reserved almost exclusively to men: women in the professions, the arts and culture, politics and the workforce, whose personal experiences shed light on the longest revolution of contemporary times, that which marked the end of the separation of gender-based roles.”

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