2024-06-17
Home Essentials MONTEBELLUNA: where history, genius and mountains come together.
Essentials

MONTEBELLUNA: where history, genius and mountains come together.

In this place surrounded by mountains, there is a centuries-old history of footwear work that has led Montebelluna to be one of the world's leading places for the production of ski boots, hiking boots and technical mountain clothing in general.

MONTEBELLUNA: where history, genius and mountains come together.
Photo credit: fondazionesportsystem

Montebelluna is an Italian village in the province of Treviso with about 31,000 habitants and a unique history.

The lives of families here have been intertwined for centuries with knowing how to make shoes or, to be more precise, ski boots and technical sports equipment in general.

A dive into history

To get a better idea of the history of this place we have to go back to the time of the Republic of Venice in the 1300s.

It was during this period in particular that shoemakers and cobblers began to impose the rules of the trade, making the popularity and importance of this type of work increase.

Moving forward through the centuries, around 1810 Montebelluna we can begin to define it as one of the most important centers of shoemaking production in which the most requested and designed product was the “gallozze“; which means footwear for farmer use and suitable for the mountains, made with a very thick wooden sole and covered in leather.

World War I rudely interrupted all footwear production that had grown considerably over time.

Later on, the mountains began to be more and more a place for tourism, sports and outdoor activities.

Later, the mountains began to be increasingly a place for tourism, sports and outdoor activities. The main problem at that time was that the same shoes used for skiing were used for walking. It was in the small town of Montebelluna that the idea of the ski boot began to be thought about and later designed. In the mid-twentieth century some very popular and important companies today, such as Nordica, Munari and Dolomite, began to offer a wide range of sports shoes and boots, and it was precisely the 1956 Olympic Games in Cortina that brought these companies and in particular Montebelluna to be one of the most important centers of production of sports footwear, and not only, in the world.

Montebelluna | shoestechnologies
“Dolomite” boots
Photo credit: Dolomite website

In the same year, another event that helped increase the fame on Montebelluna’s boots was when Austrian skier Toni Sailer won all three alpine ski races with a boot model produced by Calzaturificio Munari on his feet.

The paradise of sports footwear

In and around Montebelluna, 65% of the world’s production of ski boots and 80% of motorcycle footwear is made.

Shoes are also produced for soccer, cycling, basketball, tennis, city and much more demonstrating that production is not exclusively sectoral on one sport or context.

On this broad territory Montebelluna has been adept at capitalizing on the strategic location being close to raw material supply areas such as hides and from major markets near the areas of the Dolomites and the northwestern Alps.

A museum to tell its story

In 1984 a group of local entrepreneurs founded a museum in Montebelluna with the desire to highlight the history and knowledge in the footwear field of this area. 

To this day, the permanent exhibition has more than 400 pieces that represent the history of this reality in the province of Treviso.

Among the most iconic exhibits we find the first written testimony from the early 19th century in which we learn how shoemakers of the time paid taxes to the municipality showing how their work was fully recognized. Also in the museum we can find one of the first models of ski boots from the late 1930s, the original footwear, made by “La Dolomite,” that helped Ardito Desio in 1954 conquer K2, and a gallery with countless shoes worn by great champions of various disciplines all autographed.

In order to preserve and tell the story of these lands, the Sportsystem Foundation was born from the fusion of an association and the Museum of the boot and sports footwear.

Montebelluna | shoestechnologies
Sportsystem Foundation Museum
Photo credit: fondazionesportsystem website

Among its main objectives, we would like to emphasize that this Foundation wants to create and promote initiatives, particularly of an educational and cultural nature, to contribute to the growth of the industrial and entrepreneurial culture of these places.

With programs to update skills and research, the Foundation promotes the development of a sustainable vision by also collaborating with universities and public bodies to be a meeting point for researchers, specialists, insiders and visitors from all over the world.

Who carries Montebelluna’s name

In addition to its past history characterized by great fame and innovation, there are still many brands in Montebelluna that have their main production headquarters among these mountains and still preserve the authenticity and importance of this place.

Take Nordica, for example.

The brand was born right in Montebelluna back in 1939 by brothers Adriano and Oddone Vaccari, and still today it is one of the most important companies in the production of ski boots and sports equipment.

Over the years, the search for innovation, new technologies and new designs have led their ski boots to be increasingly in demand by ski enthusiasts and professionals and beyond.

Some of their boots today, such as those in the Unlimited series, feature a novel cuff with a composition that harks back to an old method of processing plastic that Nordica had already developed and now revamped. The use of three different plastic hardnesses, which are soft, medium and hard, allows the cuff to protect the foot and leg while offering comfort to the skier and, at the same time, the proper functioning of the boot.

Over the years, soles have become a decidedly important element and one that receives a great deal of attention in the landscape of the touring market, which is why Nordica, again in the Unlimited boot series, has used a Michelin sole that can offer excellent grip in the most challenging terrain, safety and precision to allow anyone to enjoy the beauty of skiing.

This sole also places attention toward sustainability, as it is not glued to the boot but is screwed in such a way that it can be replaced when worn out.

Another reality that has its roots in Montebelluna is definitely Dolomite.

Founded in 1897 by the intuition of Giuseppe Garbuio whose name is linked above all to the famous boots that were used for the Italian expedition on K2.

It was precisely this expedition in July 1954 that consecrated the brand as one of the best in mountaineering equipment, also because K2, despite not being as high as Everest, is much steeper, more dangerous and with more extreme weather conditions to the point of being called the “wild mountain.”

For years reaching the summit of this mountain has been a dream of many explorers, such as for Mike Horn, recognized as one of the greatest adventurers of our time.

Horn, along with a friend and Swiss guide Fred Roux attempted the feat of climbing K2 and succeeded, and Dolomite was the brand that supported him in this adventure with some of their footwear such as the multi-talented Veloce GTX shoe.

Montebelluna | shoestechnologies
Multi-talented Veloce GTX shoe
Photo credit: Dolomite website

A boot designed primarily for mountaineering, it is made with an abrasion-resistant upper, a waterproof GORE-TEX lining, Vibram outsole, and technology that provides excellent grip for any surface.

A story born from innovation

Montebelluna has been the place now for centuries where the tradition and work of those shoemakers from the 1300s has been carried on, managing to combine the needs associated with the mountain territories with the passion of making original and unique footwear.

Thanks to how this history has been passed down and the method of work here, today Montebelluna is one of the most important places for the production of sports equipment, especially for the mountains.

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