Wearing a lovely dress, a little girl around eight years old curiously admires the footwear hanging on the wall of an Italian shoe shop. She places her hands together as she stares pensively and marvels at the wide selection of shoes. An older woman holding a large purse in her left hand is also seen examining the shoes indoors. A signboard is placed above the shop entrance, and to the left, the hammer-and-sickle logo of the communist party has been crudely drawn on the wall. This photograph presents an interesting comparison in how the life of civilians greatly shifted in 1940s Italy: the communist insignia represents Italy's desire to spread their influence and ideals during the war, even at the expense of its own citizens. Its people lived in fear, and a resistance broke out across the country to defeat the communist forces who put the well-being of innocent civilians at risk. Yet following the war's conclusion and the country's defeat, the people of Italy were able to relinquish their fears and enjoy simple pursuits such as shopping once again. Workers were also able to return to their jobs, allowing the economy to flourish after such a difficult, traumatic period.
Italy is known for its wide range of high-quality leather products, such as bags, wallets, belt, and shoes. Even in the days of modern technology, there are still many artisans who create hand-made shoes, some of which sell for thousands of dollars. The main difference between handmade leather goods from Italy and those in other parts of the world is the history involved in the craftsmanship. Italy has been a skilled producer of leather for hundreds of years, and guilds were constructed in order to guard and pass down the secret techniques used to create the finest leather. The tanneries also use tanners created from tree bark and other natural plant parts rather than chemicals to dye their leather, creating both intense color and incredible durability. The process is time-consuming and costly, but customers will always be guaranteed to get their money's worth, if not more.
Taken by George Sakata. George was a member of the infamous 100th Division 442nd Nisei Regimental Combat Team in WWII. This was the only Japanese American unit in WWII and was nicknamed the "Go For Broke" unit. The 442nd had a casualty rate of 93% and was awarded 21 Medal of Honors. George Sakata is featured throughout our website. For more information on the 442nd RCB unit.