In the 16th century the House of Medici of Florence created the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. After the Second Italian War of Independence (Italian War of 1859), Tuscany became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. It is from these turbulent times that Maledetti Toscani, our company, traces its humble beginnings.
Our roots date to 1848 when Zaccaria Quadri began working as a cobbler in Montepulciano, a small, Renaissance hill town located in the province of Siena, in southern Tuscany. With troubled economic times shoes literally became “a commodity, a technology, a personal possession, a nonverbal sign defined in social spaces, a creatively and skillfully crafted material object, and an integral part of a larger sartorial system.”1 In Tuscany this commodity was so revered by the locals that it was common for residents to change from their old, worn shoes into their coveted “good” pair before being seen by the public or crossing the old town.
Zaccaria managed the company for almost 40 years (1890 to 1929) and it grew into a modest leather goods producer. His son, Livio, began with the company after the war and was an immediate success. People from all walks of life tried to enlist the services of this gifted cobbler. Demand for his services was great. However, he yearned and dreamt of the land of opportunity — America — so at 18-years-old, Livio literally boarded the boat in Genova, Italy and moved to New York. His travelling companions – a wooden trunk, a couple of dollars in his pocket and the cobbling skills he had learned from his father. Finding work in the basement of a Manhattan shoe manufacturer, Livio’s immediate charge was to fix and adjust the shoes of the affluent clientele. He performed magnificently. Soon his skills were coveted and his work product became examples of art. After years of this long and difficult work, Livio had saved enough to open his own store in America where he began producing shoes from specially selected leather. Unparalleled work ethic and ability allowed Livio to hone his craft. Great success followed.
Back in Italy Zaccaria longed for Livio to return. Age, health issues and a general malaise had taken a toll on him. Livio was needed to manage the company. With his father’s waning health and The Great Depression in 1929, Livio decided to return to Italy.
There he lived in Montepulciano and took the helm at Maledetti Toscani. Quality, craftsmanship and splendor proliferated the name Maledetti Toscani. The company began a strong period of growth and prosperity. The workforce expanded and factories were built. With the eruption of World War II life changed dramatically. Livio became part of the Italian army. As fortune would have it, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war.
During the War management of Maledetti Toscani fell to Livio’s wife Bruna. The War devastated parts of Italy where there was constant disruption. Everyone lived in fear. Commerce was at a standstill. Hope had disappeared. In desperation Bruna began a letter writing campaign with the Queen of Italy, Elena, imploring for help. These efforts and prayers were rewarded when, in 1944, the Queen pardoned Livio permitting him to return home. However, the war and imprisonment had taken a great toll on him. Livio did not have the strength and resilience to rebuild the company and brought his son, a very young Paolo, into the company.
Livio’s release and the subsequent end of the war brought about joyous times and a rebirth in Italy. Paolo seized the opportunity, breathing new life into Maledetti Toscani. He expanded the company, focusing on an atmosphere of excellence. Paolo combined his creativity with that of the local artisans, many who had come to work at the Maledetti Toscani factories in Montelulciano and Cortona. Paolo successfully managed the company until 1998. During this period Maledetti Toscani prospered. Paolo’s two sons, Nicola and Alessandro, work alongside their father — living, breathing and toiling in the factories. Each learned work ethic, quality, creativity and business management. They also learned soccer behind the factory. Nicola, who everyone knew as Nikke, was able to garner his father’s creative genius while Alessandro, known as Belli, had a penchant for business and management. Over time, under the tutelage of Paolo, both matured and developed into a great team.
While the Company’s roots began in Montepulciano (the store is still there) Maledetti Toscani has expanded to 20 locations, with stores all over Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and now — again — in this great land of opportunity — the United States. Now we have been graced and charged with carrying forth this tradition of excellence to all of the United States. Our footprint in America will span East to West, North to South, with plans to repeat history with a presence in the same area in Manhattan where Zaccaria first worked. We opened our first location in theUnited States one-hundred years to the day that Zaccaria landed in Manhattan. Many more stores will open but no matter where we go throughout this great Nation, no matter how much we produce, or how big we become, nothing will ever cause us to deviate from our core beliefs:
- Honesty, no matter what the cost, is first and foremost.
- Handmade in Italy, by local craftsmen and artisans, will never be replaced by machines and
children working in ungodly conditions in factories.
- Producing in Italy, while more expensive, provides the customer with a piece of art, an article made with love, care and at least 168 years of rich tradition.
- Competition is a blessing and promotes the best in people and companies.
- Never — ever — produce outside of Italy even though it is economically more feasible.
- Quality, honesty and being kind to people are the real keys to success.
- Provide a lifetime guarantee on the products because our valued customer has to know that we are a company entrenched in tradition, with values, with mores, and these will never change.
- Be accessible to our customer, treat them with respect and dignity and always — always — always — provide the truth regardless of cost.
At any Maledetti Toscani store worldwide you will find us on the floor, in the showroom or factory interacting with the customers and employees. In fact those that work with us are known not as an employee but rather as a “protector” because each is charged with protecting this rich brand and assuring that no one, absolutely no one breaks the chain of excellence which has been synonymous with the name “Maledetti Toscani” since 1848.
At Maledetti Toscani we firmly believe that “the other” is for anyone — WE ARE JUST FOR YOU.