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Settembre 2006

An armoury collection in a romantic park

mb5047rs1.jpgIf you you want to spend a different afternoon in Florence in a romantic 19th Century park, with tree-lined boulevards, and if you like armoury and art you should go to the Stibbert Museum.
Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906) was born in Florence but was educated in Britain. After the death of his father, an English colonel, the young Frederick inherited the whole family’s estate. He was only twenty years old but he was already determined to use his fortune to fulfil his dream: a museum of armoury collection.
As the premises of the museum he chose the hill of Montughi, where his mother had bought a marvellous villa in 1849. Frederick decided to divide the villa into two different parts: the private apartments and the museum. For the decorations of the rooms Stibbert employed the most important artists of his times and for the settings for his collection of costumes and weapons he showed his artistic sensitivity and his historical knowledge. In the museum there are several different types of armoury (European, Islamic, Japanese) and in order to create a more realistic effect Stibbert asked local artisans to design dummies, which were supposed to reproduce the physical appearance of the ancient people.
Frederick Stibbert was very proud of the realism of his collection and he used to invite friends for dinner and show them his museum with particular light effects: the guests’ astonishment when they arrived in the Cavalcade Room was all the thanks he needed for his invitation. His collection grew continuously because throughout his life Stibbert travelled extensively and he spent a huge quantity of money buying different pieces and highest quality artworks. In fact, although the Stibbert museum is usually known for its collection of arms, you can find marvellous paintings (14th – 16th centuries) and tapestries, porcelain and majolica.
After a visit to the museum and the private quarters you can have a coffee in the museum cafeteria or you can visit the lovely park of the villa. Here, while you walk under the high trees you can see how Frederick turned a traditional Italian-style garden into a romantic English-style park with little temples which Stibbert decided to build as reminders of the ruins of the past. The best architects of the 19th century worked hard to fulfil Frederick’s dream: there is an Egyptian temple, an Ellenistic temple with a beautiful dome covered with majolica, the Orangerie, the Stable, and also a little botanical garden with rare plants.
To get to the Stibbert museum you can catch bus number 4 from the train station Santa Maria Novella and in 10 minutes you will reach via Fabroni (the bus stop is called “Gioia”), the closest bus stop to via Stibbert.

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