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Unique Places In Florence: John Rocket House Boutique

May 27th, 2020 by Megan Peterson

Strolling along Via Romana in Florence, Italy, you encounter a number of intimate boutiques run by passionate artisans and friendly entrepreneurs. As you come close to the roundabout in front of Porta Romana, it’s hard not to notice the pocket-sized shop bursting with vibrant and quirky merchandise designed to summon a laugh, provoke a wave of nostalgia, or make you move closer to see if that’s really what you think it is.

Unique Places In Florence: John Rocket House Boutique 0

Maybe you noticed Salvador Dalí wearing a face mask, a tenacious Mickey Mouse with his knuckles wrapped in boxing tape, a play on the vintage Coppertone sunscreen bottle, or the poignant and timely t-shirt proclaiming, “Firenze Never Stops.” In any case, it’s clear the collection at John Rocket House is fun, fresh, and highly original, just the way each boutique on Via Romana is meant to be.

The man behind the shirts is also the man on them. Well, at least the silhouette of his logo is strikingly similar to Stefano Benetti’s own face in profile. The giveaway? The unmistakable beard.

Like many business owners that were forced to close their doors during lockdown, Benetti shifted his strategy in more ways than one. When Covid-19 hit Italy, he started producing face masks to appeal to a new clientele, adorning them with his cartoon prints and punchy designs to deliver face protection with a side of personality. He also began selling his merchandise online although he much prefers in-store connection.

“I opened even an ecommerce in that time,” Benetti said. “I’m quite satisfied, but of course, I really love to stay close to people. That’s my soul.”

Benetti started his business in 2016 after working in the fashion industry for over 20 years. He worked for the brand Replay, traveling often to the United States and Asia to help open stores and conduct fashion-related research.

A Florence-native, he lived outside of Italy for 25 years, but was eventually drawn back to his hometown. After deciding he wanted to be in Florence, he felt the best way to make a living in Italy was by drawing on his own experience in the fashion business to create his own. His designs are heavily influenced by the Americana style, comics and cartoons, 1950s nostalgia, and of course, a dose of humor.

Benetti is a prime example of an Italian small business owner forging ahead with his passion in spite of the halt in tourism and economic slowdown. He says he’s happy that some European tourists will be allowed to return when the travel restrictions are lifted on June 3 because at the end of the day, you can’t automate human connection.

Learn more about Stefano Benetti in our in-store video and be sure to check out John Rocket House designs on the online store and on Instagram.

Read next:

9 Fun Facts About Florence Italy

What Are Florence's Neighborhoods

Ca' Macana Handmade Venetian Masks

Photo from John Rocket House on Facebook

Megan Peterson

American content writer in Italy. Her hobbies include getting dressed up to go to art museums, hopping on trains to cities she's never been, and talking to herself in a mixture of English and Italian.

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