“Barefoot in the Apuan Alps, I’ll explain why”

Donatella Balloni, designer, is 44 years old and practices “barefooting”: “I had 72 pairs of shoes, then the special meeting in Antona”

Mass. The pair woman-shoes is now part of the collective imagination, given that many scholars have indicated in the passion (and sometimes obsession) for shoes on the part of the female gender, a psychological-affective compensation. In the US, the term “shoesaholic” was coined in the Urban Dictionary to indicate a “person who owns more than 60 pairs of shoes”.

Barefooting, an English term that can be translated into gymnastics or barefoot, on the other hand, is a lifestyle against the tide, and consists in the choice not to wear any type of footwear, both in walks on the asphalt or on the floors, and in the paths doing real trekking. . Born in New Zealand around the 60s, barefooting only arrived in the US and Europe in more recent times. It seems that star like Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift or Shakira practice it frequently. Leaving aside any philosophical theories that see it as an expression of freedom, this practice actually brings multiple benefits to the body.

Walking barefoot on surfaces that continuously vary in consistency and regularity stimulates the reflex zones of the foot (taking up the principles of foot reflexology), offers surprising tactile sensory experiences and turns out to be an excellent gymnastics for the feet. All the osteoarticular and muscular systems benefit from it, the skin sensitivity of the feet is recovered (which is greater than that of the hands), the body has greater thermoregulation, it gains posture and problems in the lower limbs such as varicose veins are resolved, hallux valgus, calluses, hammer toes and corns. In short, a right mediation between fitness and well-being.

Donatella Balloni, 44 years old industrial designer, seems to be the only woman to practice barefooting in the Apuan Alps, especially on the Via Vandelli dear to her: “I have been walking barefoot since I was born, in Antona, and I took the first steps in the hotel built by my grandfather Giovanni in Campareccia. As a child I walked barefoot in the meadows and in the mountains, in the rocks by the sea, in the rocks of the rivers and in the water between sand and gravel, algae and fish, as well as on the fresh floors of supermarkets and in the streets and sidewalks of the city, dodging crap and blunt objects. Thus I learned to be attentive to every step and be aware of where to place your feet. Life then took me to travel (I lived on three continents and five countries) and I got to collect 72 pairs of shoes, even though my feet always reminded me to let them breathe. Then back to Antona the turning point: I met a barefoot gentleman who told me a sentence that has remained indelible in my memory: “Go where you want barefoot”. Five days later, I was at the entrance to via Vandelli, the sun was hot and I took off my boots, placing my foot on a first plastron. The heat entered me, the footsteps warmed my soul and I felt alive like never before. Continuing over time I learned diaphragmatic breathing, optimizing time and energy, improved concentration and facilitated moments of meditation. The thing that intrigues those who speak of it is that on blunt rocks you cannot get hurt because the foot molds itself, designed as it is by nature to be uncovered, to be supported on the ground, to support us in balance and give us stability. Suffice it to say that the foot sets in motion 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles, 26 bones and 33 joints, and is prehensile without the constrictions of footwear. I love walking in the ravaneti or where the stones are smaller, I have been several times on Carchio, Pasquilio, Focoraccia, on the paths towards Cava Gioia and Cervaiole, Pian della Fioba and lately towards the Apennines starting from Barga. Via Vandelli always remains in my heart, which I hope will be fixed to be practiced safely by everyone, bikers, trekkers and maybe future barefooters. I really invite everyone to follow my example ».


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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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