About seven kilometers from the Piazza del Duomo but still in Florence proper is the Stibbert Museum, the stately home of Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906), a man born into wealth to an English father and Italian mother.
Stibbert inherited the considerable family wealth at age 21 and began a lifelong passion of collecting military armory and costumes. His treasures were meticulously displayed in his home — really more of a private museum — in the quieter outskirts of Florence. Never marrying or having children, before his death he willed his home/museum to Florence, “to improve the knowledge of history for the benefit of future generations.”
Traveling in Florence at the beginning of high season, when the crowds can really affect the enjoyment and appreciation of all the city has to offer, we found the Stibbert Museum to be an absolute oasis. It was cool, calm, and blisfully uncrowded, due to the fact that visitors must be escorted by a docent during specific times, with a limit to the size of the group. As such, reservations are reccommended. Our family was stunned by the extensive and well organized collection (about 50,000 items!) and I really appreciated the docent, who gave his talks first in Italian, then in English, allowing me to double check my comprehension.
The Stibbert Museum is fascinating for all ages, but if you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend you put this museum on your list! (For more ideas of great family museums in Florence, click here).
Travel Tips for visiting the Stibbert Museum:
- Call first to schedule the time of your visit or arrange your visit online
- Arrange transportation to and especially from (we had trouble getting a cab back)
- There is a little bar on site with light snacks, drinks and coffee, and a lovely park on the museum grounds
- Stibbert Museum website: http://museostibbert.it/en