Yes, Florence is often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Yes, it’s the home of the Medicis. Yes, it’s littered with epic works of art, from Michelangelo’s David to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Yes, you’ll walk under the Duomo and across the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll stroll down narrow cobblestone alleys and through marble-tiled museums.
But that’s really not why you should visit Florence.
You should visit Florence so you can visit Stratagemma, one of the coolest game stores anywhere. I was recently fortunate enough to be in the city on a work-related trip. Knowing that I’d be visiting, like any good gamer I searched for area game stores. Stratagemma looked promising. Maybe they’d even have an English copy of Degenesis: Rebirth. It was a long-shot, but maybe I’d get lucky.
A stone’s throw from the Duomo, Stratagemma isn’t a big store, but it’s packed to the gills with games and accessories. You can find old-school war-games of the Squad Leader variety, strategy games, family-style board games, all sorts of card games, lots and lots of dice, miniatures, and yes, an entire wall of tabletop RPGs.
I walked into the store, said hi to the proprietors behind the counter, and demonstrated my excitement by giving them the URL for Unpossible Journeys as proof that I was a genuine RPG nerd. We chatted briefly, then I walked back to the RPG section. On two separate tables players were in the midst of D&D session, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the white Degenesis: Rebirth boxed set perched on a crowded shelf and ready to be discovered.
It was meant to be.
Unfortunately I had to leave, as I needed to meet some work colleagues a half-mile away in five minutes. The next day I returned and chatted with the proprietors and a couple of the regulars. The Stratagemma team is really devoted to RPGs. Once a week they hold sessions for anyone who may be interested, and they carry a wide range of titles, from the Italian version of No Thank You, Evil! to a pristine copy of James Bond 007 from the mid-1980s. I only half-jokingly asked if they were planning on opening a location in California.
I couldn’t stay all day, as I had non-gaming gifts to buy for my family, so I purchased Degenesis: Rebirth (it turned out to be a signed copy, amazingly) and made my way back out into the jostling tourist crowd. To the crew at Stratagemma, thank you for running such a great shop and representing the tabletop roleplaying hobby so well, and for being so welcoming. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get to visit again some day.