No 13 November 1992 page 6

Umberto Antrilli
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.


Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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