Salvatore Ferragamo was born on 5 June 1898 in Bonito, about one hundred kilometres from Naples.
He was the eleventh of 14 children, and his parents, Antonio and Mariantonia Ferragamo worked the fields they owned, each of four hectares or slightly more.
The family was poor and life was difficult. Many of Salvatore’s brothers and sisters were forced to leave Italy and emigrate to the United States to seek their fortune.
Salvatore would follow in their footsteps.
Since he was a little child, Salvatore dreamed of being a shoemaker.
He would spend hours watching the local shoemaker at work, although his father did not approve as shoemaking was considered the humblest of trades. When it came time for Salvatore’s sister Giuseppina to have her First Communion, the Ferragamo family did not have the money to buy her a pair of white shoes to wear in keeping with tradition. It was a disgrace for the family. Salvatore borrowed nails, thread, white canvas and the tools he needed from the shoemaker in Bonito. That night, in secret, he began making his first pair of shoes. .
They were ready in the morning, and his sister went to church with white shoes on her feet, to the astonishment of all.
Salvatore was nine years old at the time.
His fate was sealed. He would be a shoemaker.
At the age of 11, Salvatore goes to Naples with only a few cents to his name, to learn more about shoemaking, in what had then been one of the capitals of luxury.
He would return shortly to his village where he would open a shoe shop with six workers, all older than him.