Who first noticed Italy was a boot?

I’m sure whoever managed to come up with the first reasonably accurate map of the Italian peninsula and Sicily must have observed, at least mentally, that it resembled a high-heeled boot kicking a stone or a ball. But what’s the earliest surviving written record of this observation?

A Canadian?

Sorry, what was the OP aboot? :stuck_out_tongue:

Probably someone from Michigan.

Very good question.

Very bad and inane replies.

More intellectual input badly needed.

AFAICT, the “boot-shape” description at least post-dates the ancient cartographers such as Strabo:

Emphasis added Triangle? Quadrilateral? Doesn’t sound like a boot to me.

Narrowing it down! The window has been reduced to only about 1850 years! Woo-hoo!

Charlotte Yonge’s Young Folks’ History of Rome, 1880:

I presume “leg” counts as “boot”, more or less?


Medieval maps tended to have North on the left side and East on top. The known world was a disc with Jerusalem at its center. (Source: Terry Gilliam’s The Crusades). I suspect that “North on Top” maps became commonplace circa 1500, and at this point, Italy hung down in a boot-like shape.

Italy wasn’t a nation-state until pretty late in the game. When it wasn’t fractured into numerous city-states, northern Italy was mapped up with Germany in the Holy Roman Empire, central Italy was mapped as the Papal States and southern Italy was mapped up as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (To this day, a northern Italian marrying a southern Italian is considered miscegenation). None of these looked very boot-like.

The first person to describe Italy as boot-shaped was a person named Ernie.

No references to the joke about why Italy is shaped like a boot. Bummer.

According to The History of Boots, high-heeled boots did not appear until the 1600s, so I guess my initial idea was wrong.

Anyway, there are some more interesting observations in this Usenet thread.

Looks like the board software is too stupid to understand established URL standards. The second link about should be to <news:570548158.2zXrM70XvI@ID-187157.News.Individual.NET>, not <http://news:570548158.2zXrM70XvI@ID-187157.News.Individual.NET/>.

You’re going to have to help me out here. Sorry.