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We're creating a place for a few special things from Spain. A place for really nice recuerdos. Little gifts to remember your trip by. Even if you're already back home.

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The rope-soled wedges known in the U.S. as "espadrilles" are an old-time tradition in Spain. Called alpargatas in Spanish and espardenyes in Catalan, they used to be the home-made shoe of choice for farmers. They’re still worn by folk dancers. And they're every Spaniard's favorite around-the-house shoe. Both men and women slip on the basic flat model, letting the back fold down like a slipper.

La Manual Alpargatera has been Barcelona’s premier spot for these shoes since the 1940s. The gothic quarter shop, just off Carrer Ferran, has an open workbench where shoemakers lace up custom alpargatas for local dancing groups and for all sorts of special occasions.

The basic, unisex flats are shelved floor to ceiling on one wall and available in fabulous colors, but a wide array of other styles, different heel heights, and ribbons can be had. If you go for ribbons, ask the staff to show you how to tie the shoes the traditional way. It involves looping the ribbons under in front to create a sort of T-strap. The look is a little different from your basic criss-cross, and provides nice ankle support, too.

Until we bring them home for you, you can buy them yourself. At La Manual, if you're in Barcelona, on Carrer Avinyó, no. 7.

Espardenyes, Perhaps?

Becuse we know what it's like to come home wishing you had not walked away from those sweet little shoes you saw in Barcelona. Let us know what else you crave and we'll consider carrying it in our Shop.