Hobby Shops in Strange Places
(Part 1-Italy and Switzerland)
By Valentin E. Bueno
How many of us are lucky enough to have a significant other that would allow us to visit a hobby shop while on vacation in Europe? One, two three…Are you holding up your hand over there in the corner? Okay that's about four. Well for those lucky four, here is a quick guide to hobby shops in various cities in Europe.
Florence (Firenze), Italy
There are several hobby shops in Florence Italy as listed in the back of the Italian modeling magazine Model Time. The closest to the tourist district is Dreoni Giocattoli Modellismo, Via Camillo Cavour31/33r, Tel 055 216611. It's about two and a half blocks north of the Duomo (the big church in the middle of Florence). It is actually a toy store with a decent selection of kits. Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of books or supplies. They had a few RCR kits (sorry John B., I didn't have enough room in my luggage), but no other hard to get Italian made kits in stock. Most of the kits are easily available from The Pacific Hobbyist. An older gentleman in the front of the store does speak English. Closed Sunday and Monday, Open Tuesday through Saturday, afternoon to evening is your best bet.
The second hobby shop I visited in Florence, Delle Piane & C, SAS, via G. Targioni Tozzetti, 32B, Tel 055 332599, Fax 055 331189 is about a 20-minute walk west of the train station (San Lucia). Likewise, this shop had a nice selection of kits, few accessories. They did have their own line of 1/35-scale figures that I picked up. They also had a nice selection of 1/43-scale die cast cars available.
A buddy of mine in Italy says that Milan is model central of Italy. If the number of Milan hobby shops listed in the back of Model Time is any indication, I'd say he's right.
Venice (Venezia), Italy
I visited two Hobby shops in Venice. The best was D.M. Venezia SAS ; 5545 Via Tedeschi; 30124 Venezia (Italy)-Tel/Fax 041/5222103; near the Rialto Bridge. They are a combination model/souvenir shop. They carried a good-sized selection of figures, Andrea, Amati, Cri El, and so on. There was a bunch of fellows playing a wargame at a large table, while a young Italian woman helped the customers. The prices compared well to prices in the U.S.
The second shop I visited near the Plaza San Polo was Venice Model Team, 2102/A Via Salizzada, Campo San Polo, 30125 Venezia, Tel/Fax 041/710031, www.venetia.it/venicemodelteam. It had the least number of plastic kits in stock, but had a generous selection of 1/43 scale die cast cars. I had the address of this hobby shop from Model Time, and in the store, they had a map to the second store. Lucky me.
Lucerne (Luzern), Switzerland
I didn't have a chance to enter this hobby shop, Mobile Box, Stadthofstrasse 11, C-6006, Luzern, Tel/Fax +41-41-410-51 66, www.mobile-box.com, due to the fact that they are closed Mondays (guess what day I was there). I peered into the window with tears freezing on my face (Quit yer laughing, for a Hawaiian boy, 0° C is COLD). They appeared to have a decent selection of kits and paints and books. They also carried a large range of stuffed animals. My girlfriend was also looking for this shop to look for Beanie Babies. Tell your significant other, Beanie Babies are not available in the tourist districts of Europe. Trust me, we looked. This shop is located three blocks toward the lake from the Dying Lion Monument/Glacier Park. You can catch the #1 bus from the train station and get off one stop before the Loewnplatz. If you're hungry, there's a GREAT kebab place near the #1 bus stop near the hobby shop.
Toy stores in Switzerland also carry models. Franz Karl Weber, Falkenplatz, in the main tourist area, had a large selection of Tamiya, Italeri, Revell-Germany, and Heller kits. Looking for it in the bottom level along side the many video games.
The best souvenir shop I have ever seen in a museum was at The Musee' Des Blindes, rue de Fontevraud or visit them on line: www.musee-des-blindes.asso.fr/. It has a large array of 1/72-scale ESCI and Heller kits as well as all of the latest Tamiya kits. They even had a copy of Tamiya's Dragon Wagon M26 at a comparable hobby shop price. There were a few resin conversions and recognition models available. They have a small selection of manuals and books as well as polo shirts (I picked up two) and local wine. Catch the A Ligne from the town center and get off at Boret.
I happened onto this hobby shop, K&M Modelisme, on the corner of rue Saint Nicholas and rue de la Fidelite', while waiting for every-#$%^&*b ^#-thing in Saumur to open. The entire town closed for two hours for lunch. It is very small and carried only a few Italeri and Tamiya kits and RC stuff. At least it's a break from the Musee' des Blindes. All those diesel fumes can make an armor modeler go into cardiac arrest.
I was planning to include maps to the various hobby shops from the nearest train station, but I will need to draw them up first. If anyone is interested, I can photocopy the maps I have, and draw out the route for you. The best place to buy maps is in the train station of the town in question. This is particularly true of Saumur and Luzern, the tourist information offices in the center of each town has great map guides.
In part two of the series, I will show you some of the hobby shops in Paris. Click here to got to part two.