Angelo Gatto was born at Noto, the province of Syracuse. The son of Adele, tailor, and Salvatore, shoe-maker, he inherited from his mother the attention for the particularities and manual skills and technique from his father. At only 15 years Angelo stand in the family workshop for his father.
The young Angelo has the courage to send as a present a pair of boots for horse-riding to the Sicilian nobleman, the most elegant, capricious and worldly person of the age: Don Giulio Tomasi of Lampedusa, the duce of Palma, the father of the Prince Giuseppe Tomasi of Lampedusa who will write one of the masterpieces of the European literature of the twentieth century: “Il Gattopardo”. The duce appreciated the present and begins to use the objects manufactured by the young Gatto for the next years, spreading the fame among all the noble houses of the isle.
On the trail of the popularity that he earned, Angelo Gatto leaves Sicily. At first goes at Genoa, than at Torino and after all at Paris and London to start at the bottom among the greatest European masters of shoe-making of that time..
1905 - 1911
Angelo returns in Italy and settle down at Rome. 20 December of 1912 he opens finely his atelier of bespoke shoes at Salandra street, 34 near Veneto street..
The elegance of his creations and the skill with which models the foot of every client in the wood forms make him earn the esteem from the first moment, at first by the roman nobility and then by the European royal families.and
1912 - 1925
But in particularity it happens with the Italian royal house of Savoia that establishes the relationship of great esteem. And in 1926 Angelo Gatto was rewarded with “The Knight of the Italian Crown” by the king Vittorio Emanuele III.
Even the party officials of the new fascist regime visit quite often at the Salandra street, 34 that is only some hundred meters far from Palazzo Venezia, to order bespoke shoes. To start with Italian generals Balbo and Galeazzo Ciano, son-in-low of the Duce
1927 - 1932
Continues the fellowship with the Italian royal house. The young Prince Umberto II, the last king of Italy, sends to Gatto his image with the dedication autographed as a present. Obviously, you can see it at the shop on via Salandria.
Angelo earns the name of the “shoe-maker of the King” and the shrewd quip of Boris III of Bulgaria takes place properly these years – “Angelo, make me another pair of shoes – these are too beautiful to put them on”.
An exceptional client is the Italian boxer Primo Carnera, the world champion of the heaviest weight of these years. 1 meter and 97 cm high, 32 cm length of his foot corresponded to the size 50. A sample of his favorite model at the real dimension is still preserved in the museum of the shop .
Moreover in the 1940 Angelo Gatto is nominated like the “Official Supplier of the Italian Royal House.
The birth of the Italian Republic does not attack the fame and popularity of the Gatto shoes. On the contrary, they happen to finish on the feet of the new establishment: industrialists, politicians, powerful Italian and European dynasties. This time Cefis, i Piroddi, Torlonia, i Bismark, gli Agnelli, i Buitoni are to order the shoes similar to the ones delivered to Ciano in ’24..
Almost 70 years old, Angelo has still many projects for his shoe-making shop and calls from Messina a Rome his young nephew Giuseppe (after called affectionately “Peppino” by the clients) and inserts him in the little organic of the most famous shoe-making of the age.a.
It is an exceptional decade in which the Rome of “Dolce Vita” with Cinecittà competes with Hollywood. Italy suddenly becomes the second house and the set of actors, directors and producers of the national fame. And many of them often come to the shop on the Salandra street. Clifton Webb, the star Sunset Boulevard grant will say: “I’ve seen two extraordinary things at Rome: the Sistine Chapel and the Gatto shoes”.
The International Academy of the shoe-making and the masters of shoe-making with seat at Paris awards Angelo, as a premium for the carrier, with a “Master of Art” title for “the great contribution given to the value of the art of shoe-making”
These are the years of the international consolidation of the little roman “workshop”. Gianni Agnelli, Tyron Power, Alain Delon, Vittorio De Sicathe founder of the Opel Gunther Suchs, the baron Saint Just, the financier Robert de Balkany: these are only some of the famous lovers of the Gatto shoes, which are still conserved in the origina.
Despite the earned fame, the skillful hand of Peppino Gatto does not betray the craft’s tradition of his ancle Angelo and the production continues to remain very limited: in one day, with the help of only 2 craft-men, makes at maximum one pair and a half of shoes. That’s why from the taking the size of the foot to the delivery of the ready pair pass at least 5 months. But it doesn’t matter to the clients: they are ready to wait also 1 year..
The creations of Gatto are all important to the pattern of the shoes strictly classic of Italian school . The modeling consists of the shoes showed in the window, ready to be delivered to the client. “Whoeve r who sees them in the window – will say proudly Peppino to the journalist Jocelyne Pardo – can ask to ma ke the shoes equal to ones of Barone Saint-Just, of Franco Buitoni, of Alain Delon , of Givenchy or Terence Stamp
Beyond these names, for Peppino Gatto all the clients are important in the same manner. To one Arabic sheik who ordered 100 pairs of gray shoes who pretended that they are delivered in one year, answered that it was impossible to find the leather and refused the order: accepting this one would mean to cancel all the recent orders. .
Nowadays for several years another name, apart this of Gatto, i t is associated the hand-making and bespoke: it is Silvano Lattanzi, who was formed being young in the prestigious Milan workshops of Ronchetti and Bentivegna. Beginning from 1971 Silvano put himself hardly o n regaining the craft’s tradition of the antique shoe-making shops o f Parma and Milan, that was lost with an industrial boom and gathers the last craftsmen of the works like the Norwegian type “Bentivegna”, the “Stagno”, the “Berlinese” and the “ Torciglione”.
At the doorstep of 2000, the century of internet, the difficulty to find new craftsmen who can help him or replace the once now in the pension, force Peppino to refuse sometimes the orders of new clients. But the esteem and the fashion that surround the Gatto name are so much that those who is not yet the client tries to be “recommended” by the ones who already are the clients, like Max Walbere, testimonied by the letter of the “king” of the German steel, who asked to be taken like a client of Gatto as a result of “relevant recommendation”.
Peppino Gatto has no children or nephews who can take ahead the shoe-making and the centennial craft’s traditions of the Gatto’s shoe-making is risking. There is only one person who could pursue the shoe-making after him with the same passion and attention to the clients and Peppino decides to contact him: it is Silvano Lattanzi.
Gatto will say to the French magazine Monsieur in one of the last interviews: “Our biggest problem is the labor. I’m 76 years old and have great problems to find young craftsmen who could help me today and insure the future to our history. Silvano Lattanzi is one of the greatest “Mastri Bottiers” of our age. He will be able better of anybody else to respect the tradition and the style of Gatto, with the labor highly qualified, being himself manufactor of really beautiful shoes”. The shoe-making shop Gatto celebrates with Silvano Lattanzi 100 years from the birth.”
Everything is remained like before, perfectly preserved: the same models, the same hides. In the storic shoe-making shop on the Salandra street even the furniture is the same that welcomed one century after other the sovereigns, generals, politicians, noblemen, business leaders. Nothing is changed. “Because Gatto has a noble history – declares the Lattanzi family – a history genuine and beautiful, of the bourgeoisie of the other times. The clients of Gatto are like the ones of the previous age: refined people with the natural eleganze. It was necessary that Gatto would continue to exist.