Grigua shoes direction ... Space

Invented in 1998 by the Vinco brothers of Bosco Chiesanuova for canyoning, for the past six years this particular shoe has been the official shoe of ESA, NASA’s European Space Agency. It is used for training in the deepest cavities of the earth. Astronauts around the world wear it.

They are there, placed inside a multi-story vertical clear glass display case, along with autographed pictures of Canadian Jeremi Hassen, Italians Paolo Nespoli and Luca Parmitano, or American Jessica Meir. We are talking about Grigua’s handcrafted technical shoes, producedone by one by brothers Daniele, Pierangelo and Roberto Vinco of the Gaibana shoe factory in Corbiolo, and used since 2013 by the best-known astronauts of ESA, NASA’s European Space Agency.

Special footwear, we said, created in 1998 for canyoning and discovered by ESA about six years ago thanks to world-renowned Veronese speleologist Francesco Sauro, who first showed the astronauts wearing them during one of his frequent explorations into Earth’s most hidden cavities.

“Francis told us that they were very impressed with this shoe. particular one that we first realized almost two decades ago for the canyoning,” says Daniele Vinco, ” This is a technical footwear that requires 54 steps during manufacturing, all done strictly by hand, and owes its good fortune to the set of innovative elements that make it up, particularly the sole.

“When we were informed of the interest by the European Space Agency in the comparisons of this product of ours, we were stunned, speechless – Daniel continues, still excited – U.S. astronaut Michael Reed Barratt submitted a report on the shoes directly to NASA. An extraordinary thing.”

For the past five years or so, some 20 astronauts have worn the Grigua for training in caves to prepare for space missions. A report of formal collaboration, but of mutual esteem and high Professionalism between the ESA and the small large craft workshop Lessinia.

“The space agency sends us the shoe numbers of their astronauts with measurements in millimeters, we also package them according to foot type (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, high-necked or low-necked…) taking into account the smallest details. – Daniel adds – In these operations even a single millimeter can make a difference.”

“The last shipment, for Jessica Meir, we made it from the Bosco Chiesanuova post office: we care that the footwear used by such an important entity starts from here, from the town where we were born and where our father Vincenzo, many years ago, started the business before handing it over to us children.”

Some pairs, once used, are sent back to the laboratory. Here they are analyzed, inch by inch, looking for spaces of increased wear and tear, for signs to interpret to understand the type of use and corrections to be made for the individual astronaut.

“We analyze them, we go looking for all the details to improve the next time. There is an exchange of information, confidential, between us and the agency to arrive at the best and best performing result. We get the greatest satisfaction when the pairs of shoes come back autographed, perhaps with congratulations from the astronauts themselves. This really repays us for all the effort we put into our work.”

Gaibana is no stranger to making special shoes. An early prototype of the particular footwear was chosen more than 15 years ago by the Milan helicopter rescue team, and today the ES118HT and ES118 Hovering are the official footwear of many of Italy’s Emergency Preparednesses.

“In making these safety devices, we tried to keep intact the typical solid characteristics of the mountaineering and trekking boot, while adapting them to the professional needs of the entities in question. For example, the ES118 Hovering shoe has a softer ankle strap that does not stress the tendons or encumber ambulance drivers when they are driving the vehicle.

“All the information, the tricks, the ideas that arise thanks to these special collaborations, with ESA and with the other institutional entities with which we work,” concludes Daniele Vinco, “allow us to improve day by day and to include valuable and increasingly innovative elements in our products.


Shoes for rescuers throughout Italy.

We have been handcrafting shoes for helicopter rescue, mountain rescue, 118 for many years.
A nationwide collaboration.