Consonno – Consonno, Italy - Atlas Obscura


Consonno, Italy

This half-finished "city of toys" was almost Italy's own Las Vegas. 


In the early 60s, Italy was experiencing a short-lived economic boom which ushered in a new way of life made of shiny cars, rock ‘n’ roll and an overwhelming optimism about the future. Everything seemed to be possible, even razing a small ancient village in the middle of nowhere.

That was the idea the enigmatic entrepreneur Mario Bagno, had towards the quiet, rural town of Consonno. Bagno bought up every plot of land in the village and forced the small population to reloccate before razing the entire settlement save a few houses and the church.

After the old Consonno was demolished, the new Consonno could be built on its ashes like some mentally-ill phoenix. Bagno began building a Las Vegas-like complex called the “city of toys,” hoping to draw tourists from Milan which was just an hour away. The pleasure paradise was to be outfitted with shopping malls, restaurants, ballrooms, and at least one luxury hotel, each facility themed after different type of architecture. The commercial gallery had the shape of a Muslim minaret, there were Chinese pagodas randomly standing in the gardens, and a fake medieval castle was placed at the entrance. Had the project been completed, there were also plans for a basketball court, a zoo, and a new autodrome.

While many of the buildings were almost finished, the main road to Consonno was washed away a few years after the construction was started, eliminating the site’s main flow of customers and effectively killing the project. Now the odd, half-completed village of kitschy buildings is abandoned and crumbling under decades of neglect and graffiti. After being built on the ruins of its predecessor, Consonno seems like it is well on its way to being paved over as well.

Know Before You Go

As of January 2018, it is possible to access Consonno (roads are public) and there are no security guards, as previously mentioned. However keep in mind that many properties are private. The two access roads are usually barred to block cars - direct access by car is only possible at certain times. Leaving the car at the gate coming from Villa Vergano and walking is the best option as it's the closest point to town. The minaret ladder is not directly accessible, but it's also important to notice that it is dangerous to try so due to the advanced state of decay of the building itself.

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