Want to know what it would have felt like to be an ancient hunter, chasing your prey through the wild jungles of the past?
Ride a Vespa through Rome.
There’s danger, speed, and delicious gelato. Just like they did it in the old days.
Ok, maybe I don’t know anything about our primitive forbearers, but I do know that the best way to experience Italy is by scooter. But when I went two years ago, I found that I was seriously under-dressed. Not that I didn’t try—but Italian dudes look so cool all the time.
Their secret? Amazing shoes.
About a year ago, I tried a few pairs of loafers from Italian-inspired direct to consumer brand, M.Gemi, and I became a fan.
This year, I picked up some boots to see if M.Gemi was a one-trick pony.
So what are M.Gemi shoes like?
Keep reading to find out.
What Is M.Gemi?
M.Gemi, the shoe company, was born in Boston. But the idea was hatched in the south of Italy.
Maria Gangemi, Chief Merchandising Officer at M.Gemi, spent her early years in Sicily, growing up near dozens of shoe factories and artisan cobblers. She immigrated to the US as a child but held on to her love for Italian fashion into her adult years.
After 30 years working in footwear and fashion, it was time to use those early childhood memories and craft a brand of her own.
With the production of so many designer-goods being outsourced from Italy, M.Gemi’s goal is to bring back the good old days of high-quality Italian designer shoes.
The only difference?
Made in the same artisan workshops that used to craft other huge-name brands (rhymes with Flucci, Versquachi), M.Gemi sells direct-to-consumer. That means you get the same artisan quality but without the $400- $1000+ markup retailers charge.
Sounds pretty good, right?
After hearing so much about the brand, I knew it was time to get a pair on my feet and see if M.Gemi really brought the Italian craftsmanship they boasted.
M.Gemi has created a wide range of men’s shoes, including sneakers, boots, and oxfords. In the past year and a half, I’ve picked up several of their styles:
While both the Sacca and the Volo Due will need some effort in maintenance, the reward is in the luxury materials, comfort fit, and true Italian style.
M.Gemi Shoes Review
The Felize Uomo driver is M. Gemi’s best-selling shoe of all time.
Drivers are light, moccasin-profile shoes made from leather, suede or Nubuck with characteristic rubber grommets that cover the sole and extend up the back of the heel.
Despite the fact that these are shoes and not a hired chauffeur or hefty golf club, drivers do derive their name from, well, driving a car.
Back in the heyday of classic cars (think James Bond vintage Aston Martins), it was common for the wealthy individual who owned the expensive sports car to swap out his outfit’s shoes for a pair of drivers when behind the wheel.
Since drivers have a slip-on construction, this was an easy task, and the rubber grommets on the sole provided excellent grip on the pedals. Also, the rubber grommets that extend up the back of the heel prevent heel-wear that might have occurred on regular shoes.
I’ve tried driving my trusty Honda Civic while wearing drivers, and while I absolutely have more grip on the pedals and greater foot control, the experience is lost on a car that can push out 113 horsepower on a good day.
Still, even though the original intent of these shoes has been overshadowed by modern shoe technology, the style has persisted and M. Gemi’s Felize Uomo driver is true to the original form.
Featuring genuine Italian suede in the construction, these drivers are made with one piece of suede leather that will mold to your foot for a glove-like fit.
As you’d expect from a brand’s best-selling shoe, the Felize Uomos come in a wide swath of colors, including jewel green and orange, but I went with a classic latte colorway for the Summer months.
M. Gemi recommended ordering true to my size, and I’m glad I did. I typically fall between a 9.5 and 10 in US sizing, so I ordered a 43 and wasn’t disappointed. The shoe slips on easily, feels snug against my toes, and sits comfortably on the heel.
Due to the true moccasin construction and high-quality leathers, there’s no break-in period for these shoes. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The Felize Uomos are comfortable the first time you wear them, and only get more comfortable as the leather molds and shapes to your foot.
Drivers are great for the Spring and Summer months, and pair easily with casual suits, chinos, slacks, and even nice jeans. I like to wear mine with a pair of off-white chinos and a light, short-sleeve button down to capture the Miami-chic look.
The rubber grommets along the sole and heel provide fantastic grip when driving and walking, but since they’re so flexible the shoe provides very little arch support. I expected this, so I’m not disappointed, and these aren’t the type of shoes you’d go out for a long walk in, anyway.
The interior is lined with buttery soft genuine leather, and the heel cup has a sueded insert for extra traction on your heel.
Normally I’d worry that this much leather encasing my foot would create a micro swamp, but the Felize Uomos breathe surprisingly well and I didn’t have any issues.
Overall, M. Gemi’s Felize Uomo driver is a quintessential shoe for Summer date nights, casual weddings, and just looking good. I’m a big fan of the genuine suede and leather used throughout, and love how comfortable these are right out of the box.
An easy slip-on for Summer date nights, casual weddings, and just looking good---this is one of our favorite drivers. I’m a big fan of the genuine suede and leather used throughout, and love how comfortable these are right out of the box.
The Sacca Donna
The Sacca Donna is M.Gemi’s most relaxed and casual men’s loafer. Suede, unlined, and with genuine moccasin construction, these are excellent shoes for summer.
Because the Sacca is unlined, they’re incredibly light and flexible.
I opted for the Sacca Donna in navy, but it’s also available in red and tan (M.Gemi calls it luggage). Since summer is coming to a close, I wanted to pick a color I thought could last into the fall. Both the red and tan would work, but I liked navy the best.
The suede upper has a nice, velvety texture. A pet-peeve I have with suede is its inclination to those impossible-to-get-out streaks. It’s something I’ve noticed in cheaper suede shoes in the past, and it’s always the first thing I look for in any new suede shoe.
M.Gemi clearly puts cash behind their materials—I couldn’t find a single blemish on the upper. For the price point, though, this is expected.
I’m a size 10.5 in the US, so I opted for M.Gemi’s 43.5. M.Gemi says their shoes fit true to size, and I have to agree. My toe is a perfect half-inch away from the toe-cap and there’s enough room to fit into the shoe without any extra wiggle. No surprises in the sizing, which is always a good thing.
Unlined shoes are often more comfortable right out of the box. Because the Sacca’s suede has a fine pore reverse, they feel light and airy. My feet don’t stick to the inside leather like they would with lined shoes, so the loafers don’t become little swamp-boxes.
Without a liner, you’re putting your feet against the reverse of the suede upper. Another big indicator that M.Gemi is using quality materials was the creamy-smooth feel of the leather interior.
The Sacca is made with a single-vamp moccasin construction, which means it’s one continuous piece of leather that will adjust to fit your foot better over time.
An important note about the construction, though, is that they’re prone to water damage if you’re ever caught in the rain. Elvis said, “don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.” I say, “don’t you water your lawn or set up an automatic sprinkler near my blue suede shoes.”
Much less catchy.
The leather sole has rubber inserts for added grip and extended life. With how frequent I’ll be wearing these, I can see the sole lasting a year or more before needing a refresh. The heel is hardened rubber, and I have plenty of room to wear them down before I’ll need to have the heel redone.
With its top-quality suede, stylish color options, and limited break-in period, The Sacca Donna by M.Gemi is one of our favorite loafers. We especially love the unlined interior which keeps your foot both cool and dry.
The Volo Due
The Volo Due is M.Gemi’s modern take on the classic penny-loafer. These loafers are still casual, but they’re a step up on the formal scale from the breezy Sacca.
With a smaller, more European profile, these loafers are lighter than their English counterparts.
The Volo Due has all the classic details of the time-tested penny loafer. What drew me to these, however, was the two departures into more modern territory.
First, these loafers are made with Blake stitching rather than Goodyear stitching. Not familiar with the difference?
Let’s take a look:
With Blake stitching, the upper is sewn close to the outsole, making for a slimmer, more compact profile.
With a Goodyear welt, an extra layer of leather or rubber runs around the outsole.
Both have their benefits and drawbacks. If you want the true Italian look, Blake stitching is a must. The smaller profile and extra flexibility give the Volo Due its classic European style.
That being said, the Blake stitch is much harder to repair. Shoe repair shops need to have special machinery to re-sole a Blake stitched shoe.
A Goodyear welt has more material so it’s less flexible, heavier, and has a larger silhouette. They’re a bit sturdier and easy to re-sole when the time comes.
I was also drawn to the Volo Due’s extended penny strap. The strong diagonal is a nice modern update, but it’s not over the top. The Volo Due hits a great balance, keeping enough old-world in their design without going too modern.
M.Gemi is two for two when it comes to fit. The Volo Due was harder to put on because of the stiff leather, but I welcome any chance to bust out my trusty shoehorn.
I took a stroll through the city with these on a few different occasions. I’d recently had a rough experience going sockless in the city.
Anyone who saw my feet afterword would have checked me into a leper colony. It was bad.
So I packed some bandaids and went for a walk. There was no discomfort and no bandaids needed. The Volo Due’s didn’t rub on either side of my foot and my heel went unscathed.
My only gripe with the Volo Due is in its maintenance, so it’s not even a problem I’ve come up against yet.
Because of their Blake stitching, I may have to go to a few different shoe repair shops when it’s time to re-sole my penny loafers. Not every shoe repair owns the machinery for the job.
Then again, I might find the right shop on my first try and it won’t be an issue at all.
You can't go wrong with a quality, stylish penny loafer. And that's exactly what M.Gemi have created with the Volo Due. With their streamlined and sleek design, Blake stitching, and long penny strap, we're big fans of these as more dressed up counterparts to our Saccas.
I’m a Chelsea boot guy, so while I liked the look of the Fuggire online, I didn’t expect it to be my favorite of the two.
Well, I was wrong.
The style is based on older WWII-era service boots, but has a few fashionable modern upgrades which I’m really enjoying.
First, the shape of the heel tapers in at the Achilles tendon. It’s a subtle design quirk, but it makes the boot look like it’s fitted specifically to my foot. And I love that.
Part of what I want from Italian-style boots is a very slim European silhouette.The Blake stitching gets us part of the way there, but the extra molding around the heel and the tight fit on the ankle complete the look.
For chunkier American style boots, a Goodyear welted boot is a better choice, but the bulk doesn’t lend as well to slim suit trousers like the Euro style.
When I was shopping, there were two colorways (still available as of November 2020): navy and taupe suede.
While the navy colorway matched more in my wardrobe, I couldn’t fight the urge to go with taupe. I’m glad I gave in, too. No regrets.
The suede feels lush and is easy to care for. While some folks think suede is fickle, cleaning suede is a breeze. I picked up a suede brush and suede eraser for under $10 and can clean up my Fuggire’s in under 10 minutes.
These boots have a stacked rubber sole, which I prefer to the leather. Leather is more formal, but it just doesn’t have the same grip and durability as rubber.
There’s no comfort lining in the sole, probably to cut down on the profile height and width. I agree with that choice—these boots are fashionable and not meant to be worn for multi-mile treks.
Because the sole is so flexible and the leather is light and supple, there’s virtually no break-in period. I didn’t feel any discomfort with the Fuggire (ditto with the Dritto).
The only minor issue I have with these boots is that they’re difficult to get on. I have to unlace half of the eyelets to get my foot in. Again, this is a tiny gripe because the design is meant to hug the ankle which is the very thing I love about these boots.
It's hard to categorize the Fuggire. It has a slimmed down service boot silhouette that's modern, refined, and sophisticated. And the suede M.Gemi uses is outstanding. With a rubber Blake-stitched sole, this boot is hard to beat.
The Dritto is M.Gemi’s take on the classic Chelsea boot style.
There are a few differences though that really stand out from other Chelsea boots I’ve worn in the past.
First, the ankle is relatively low. Whereas most Chelsea boots will come up well above the ankle, the Dritto sits at mid-ankle.
But the most distinctive aspect is the leather. It’s common to find boots with smooth, uniform leather, but M.Gemi wasn’t having any of that. I picked up the Rosewood colorway which is hand-dyed for a more bespoke look that’s hard to find at this price point.
There are some areas that soaked a little more dye, some with a little less. The heel and toe are polished and shined while the instep has less treatment.
The result is a pair of Chelsea boots that, like the Fuggire, look like they’re custom made.
There was no break-in period on this boot. The upper and full leather lining is soft enough to naturally bend with your foot and even a light pair of socks will keep you from getting blisters on your first wear.
With the leather sole, this boot is right at home in a more formal outfit, so go ahead and pair these with a suit. The brand includes a rubber heel which I appreciate. That makes repairs less expensive and less frequent, which is a win-win for me.
This Blake stitched Chelsea boot embodies the classic Euro-Italian style. With a lower ankle and super sleek vamp, this boot stands out in a crowded field.
What Do Other Reviewers Say About M.Gemi?
Reviews for M.Gemi consistently mention the fit. The brand does an excellent job with their sizing chart, so don’t game the system and “guess” your size relative to the brand.
Only a dozen people wrote notes on the Dritto, but it averaged a 4.9 out of 5 stars rating. Fuggire folks (about ten as of writing) gave the boot a perfect 5-star mark.
As for the Sacca and Volo Due, the consensus is that these are really only meant for sidewalks. The thin Blake-stitched soles allow you to feel every bit of ground, so if you’re stepping on rocks, you’ll experience some soreness the next day.
But otherwise, the comfort level is excellent. Plus, you can’t beat the style—loafers are to Italian style what basil is to pizza. Sure, you could live without it, but why would you ever want to?
The reviews about M.Gemi’s customer service are impressive too. The brand prides itself on its customer service and reviewers seem to notice.
My Thoughts Overall on M.Gemi
What I Like
Both loafers can be worn sockless, and the Sacca practically begs for the sockless look.
The suede is top-quality on both the Sacca and Fuggire. No stubborn blemishes and a very nice texture on the inside of the shoe.
Fit and comfort straight out of the box. There was no break-in period. No back-and-forth return game. Just great fitting shoes and boots that are comfortable right away.
M.Gemi has an excellent array of seasonal colors to bolster out their more classic collection.
What I Don’t Like
These aren’t rugged shoes, so it’s best to rotate them into your wardrobe two or three times a week to help keep their lifespan.
Who is M.Gemi for?
M.Gemi is an excellent choice for the guy who’s wants fine Italian footwear while staying under $500. It’s not always easy to find that combo, but there are few brands that really embrace the slim Italian silhouette as well as M.Gemi, and do so without an astronomical cost.
M.Gemi delivers on its promise of Italian luxury at a reasonable price. They could have gone the extra mile and shipped me a Vespa and a few salami logs, but not every company is perfect.
What most impresses me was how bespoke all M.Gemi’s shoes feel. Choices like the molded heel on the Fuggire, or the hand-dyed leather of the Dritto are bold—not everyone will like it. But for folks like me who want their footwear to have a distinguished edge, these details are excellent.
The ordering process is smooth with M.Gemi, and they have a generous return policy, though I’ve never needed to use it between the four pairs of shoes I’ve picked up from the brand.
The Sacca’s ultra-lightweight construction makes it a great shoe for packing and traveling. No socks needed either as the unlined interior stays cool and dry.
The Volo Due is a touch more dressed-up than the Sacca, which makes it my new go-to for elevating my casual style.
I’ve had both loafers for a year now, and they’re just as beautiful as they were when I first got them.
M.Gemi’s unique balance of classic, Euro style with a modern refresh are an excellent addition to any guy’s wardrobe.
While both the Sacca and the Volo Due will need some effort in maintenance, the reward is in the luxury materials, comfort fit, and true Italian style.
Are M.Gemi shoes comfortable?
M.Gemi shoes are very comfortable. Especially, their loafers, which are the most comfortable loafers we’ve ever tried.
How do you clean M.Gemi shoes?
If you have a suede M.Gemi shoe, you’ll want a suede brush and suede eraser. For their standard leather shoes, use a conditioner like Venetian to buff out scratches, restore the oils in the leather, and keep the color.
Where can I buy M.Gemi shoes?
Buy M.Gemi shoes directly from their website here.