Always a Cobbler
His fascinating stories would be worthy of a poet’s pen. His three brothers are
Ustine, Pippinello and Dinate.
By Antonio Piccoli
Umberto Antrilli is 85 years old and since he was 20 he has been the shoe
repairer for Torricella. We met him on a clear, cold Sunday in February, at 9 o’
clock in the morning. Nobody else was about yet. Having been up for some time,
he was slowly making his way towards his little shop beneath the terraces “le
tirriete”. He has worked there for 59 years. But he wasn’t going to work,
because, as he said, “we don’t do anything here any more,” he was going to
change his shoes. On a Sunday, in fact, it is his custom to put on his low black
calfskin shoes, instead of his red-brown ankle-boots; obviously stitched
entirely by him. We stayed chatting there for at least an hour, fascinated by
his memories and by his tremulous voice, by the calendars from at least the last
thirty years hanging on various nails, by all the objects on the shelves and on
the table and by the ball of beeswax for lubricating the threads. They would all
be worthy of the pen of a poet. He tells us about his three brothers, Ustine,
Pippinello and Dinate; and of his going to war in Greece and of his being held a
prisoner in Germany; and of how much the sole of a shoe had cost in those days.
We would have liked to record it all, but sadly the only thing we had with us
was a camera.