Florence is, of course, known not only for its beautiful buildings, wondrous art collections and its historical importance as the birthplace of the renaissance but also for its wealth of interesting shops. One of my favourite shops, combining toys with model-making, is in Via Cavour. It’s called Dreoni and started out in 1923.
The shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave and continues to open out into ever more unfolding chambers and unexpected galleries. It’s a great place to bring families of all ages together since there is bound to be something which will interest both the most anti-shopping hardened male and the most discriminating female shopper.
(Lego my hand you croc!)
I was particularly intrigued by the train sets which comprise those elite items: Rivarossi (now combined with Lima and Hornby) and Marklin.
Here is a 00 gauge Rivarossi version of the iconic “Settebello” train which used to run on Italian railways between 1952 and 1992.
No other country had, at that time, known such style and comfort in train travel. The greatest designers and architects were involved in Italian State Railways’ project, including Gio Ponti and Giulio Minoletti and, apart from the luxury, top speeds of 160 km were reached on the main run between Milan, Florence and Rome. Particularly in the antiquated and under-invested British railways of the fifties and sixties it must have been a time-travel-experience for British passengers to journey in the panoramic lounge of the “Settebello” (the winning card, incidentally, in that popular Italian card game, scopa)!
At least we can now recapture that excitement in these finely wrought models. I feel like I really want to buy myself another train set after my mum ignominiously gave my own away when she considered I’d outgrown it!
There is something in Dreoni’s for everyone, from the smallest children to those who still conserve a child-like spirit within themselves. From Meccano to Lego, from Pinocchio to the latest fantasy characters it’s got it.
Indeed, while in the shop we almost forgot the serious business of why we came to the city of the lily yesterday – the visit to an important exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi.
Never make rigid plans when planning a trip to Florence (or, for that matter, any other city). You’re bound to miss out on perhaps even better pleasures if you do!
While some of you may be desperately waiting to enter Dreoni’s portals you can still, in the meanwhile, explore the shop’s web site at http://www.dreoni.it/dreoni_infinity/cms/