It’s not every day that a business marks its centenary, but that’s what Dreoni, the biggest family-run toy store in Italy, has achieved.
Co-owner Luciano Dreoni says that a generation of Florentine children might very well think of him as a train guard. It’s a feeling I share on capturing his image through the toy train window that doubles as an office by the entrance of the sprawling store in via Cavour. This October, the family—Laura, Silvia, Carla and Luciano—is celebrating 100 years since the shop’s distant opening in 1923 with an exhibition and a party, open to all with toys and games, held in the Galleria delle Carrozze at neighbouring Palazzo Medici Riccardi on October 7 and 8.
A favourite port of call for generations of Florentines and countless international visitors, what makes Dreoni stand out is the customer service. Employees have been working for the family for years and their goal is crystal clear: to make children (and therefore parents!) happy. That’s not all. As Silvia Dreoni explains, “One of the things that international customers, especially Americans, like is that you can find one of everything at Dreoni.” Whether it’s a certain Barbie or airplane, Dreoni will have the model in stock. That’s a guarantee.
Running through October 14, the La città che gioca: 100 anni di giocattoli a Firenze exhibition shows a rare collection of vintage toys and iconic games that shaped the memories of entire generations. Some of the items are unique pieces straight from Dreoni’s own collection, whereas others hail from important private collections, such as Ida Sello, in Udine; the Archivio Italiano dei Giochi; Florence Toy Museum, Museo del Giocattolo e di Pinocchio; Museo del Figurino Storico, in Calenzano; Museo della Linea Gotica, in Ponzalla; Associazione Fiorentina di Battaglie in Scala; and Lucca Comics & Games. Highlights include Carlo Ceccanti’s Fashion Queen Barbie, which survived the 1966 Florence flood; seven unique pieces from the Trudi historical collection that were designed personally by Trudi Müller; a 1950s Monopoly board, with land made for the edition during the fascist years in Italy as well as metal counterparts for the American editions; a 1968 Scalextric inspired by Goldfinger; a Vic-20 Colour Commodore vintage computer; and a 1:43 scale model of Fiat 238 Dreoni (Automodelli Progetto K, Italia 1999).
Attended by top Italian brands such as Clementoni, Quercetti, Parodi, Mandelli, Faba, Ludattica and Plastwood, the two-day festivities on October 7 and 8 will also boast an interactive puppet theatre and a special celebratory Pinocchio by Piedmontese crafts firm Mastro Geppetto, which will be given as a gift to all customers. Dal Negro will be on hand for tarot readings, Schleich will set up striking photo sets and Ravensburger is providing a Brio train corner for little ones.
Just passing by Dreoni and its store windows this October will bring out the “kidult” in all of us, however old we now are.