by Melinda Gallo

Il Museo Stibbert

This afternoon we took a taxi from Piazza Santa Croce to Il Museo Stibbert. I had heard of the museum and even lived nearby back in 1997-1999, but had never gone to visit it. After my sister showed an interest in taking her family, I read about the museum on their website and decided that I definitely didn't want to miss it.

Living in Florence :: Il Museo Stibbert

Before going to the museum, we had a wonderful lunch at the Osteria de' Benci where we had just had lunch on Monday. My sister had seen a fried and breaded meat dish the last time we were there, so when she and her family went back for dinner on Wednesday, she asked for that dish. The owner said that it's not on the menu and they don't do it at night because it smells up the restaurant. He told them that they'd have to call in advance for lunch and ask for it.

This morning when I called to make a reservation for us all, I asked them about the agnello fritto. The first person I talked to said that he'd have to ask. I then spoke to an older woman, whom I think was the mother/chef of the restaurant, and she said that it wouldn't be possible. I told her that we talked to the man at the restaurant on Wednesday night and she told me to hold on. While I was waiting, I could overhear her talking to another man. She got back on the phone and said, "Va bene...ne faccio solo per tre persone." (OK...I'll do them for only three people).

My sister, my brother-in-law, and I ordered the agnello fritto along with a different contorno (side dish) each. We were all extremely happy with our choices as our empty plates could certainly testify.

We went to Gelateria de' Neri in via dei Neri just around the corner from the trattoria. My sister and her family all told me that they liked the gelato there best. I walk past it all the time to go to my hairdresser and the McRae bookstore, but never stopped by. I enjoyed every bite of my creamy and fruity mango ice cream.

Since we arrived late to the Museo Stibbert where we had 3PM reservations, we were ushered to the second room almost immediately. The collection of arms was incredible. We were escorted into immense rooms filled with arms from Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. Supposedly the Japanese arms collection is the largest outside of Japan. Two women in black wool coats monitored us in each of the rooms. Because some of the items were not behind glass, we couldn't be left unattended in the rooms. We were given only a specific amount of time before we could go into the next room. In some rooms, we were rushed while others we were not.

After seeing Stibbert's extensive collection of swords, suits of arms, and samurai swords, we were led on a visit of the rest of the villa. Everything on display was grand, like the elaborate collections of ceramics, porcelain, and religious paintings, which were so beautiful that my niece asked me, "Did they take these from the Uffizi?"

We walked out to the giardino (gardens) out back and enjoyed the peacefulness under the trees. From the path, we could see the top of the Duomo. I had so much fun playing with my niece that we missed seeing the laghetto (small lake).

We went to dinner for the second time to Trattoria Cibrčo and afterwards we went back to Gelateria de' Neri. All day long we enjoyed Tuscan specialties and topped them off with a soothing gelato. What could be a better way to enjoy Florence?

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