An hour’s drive southwest of Venice, around 1,200 people call the community of Villamarzana home. In 2000, Gigi Stecca made waves by opening up a restaurant just a few minutes from the center of town. Today, two abandoned airplanes and a helicopter are proof of his unique, yet ultimately doomed, project.
Part of Stecca’s dream was to provide the opportunity for everyone to set foot on an aircraft. After a decade spent managing retirement homes, he noticed a common interest among residents: When planes passed overhead, elderly Italians expressed a desire to have gone aboard one. And so Stecca opened a restaurant in a sprawling compound consisting of two airplanes (a Douglas DC-6 and Tupolev TU-134 A), a control tower, and a helicopter.
After outfitting the establishment with replicas of famous works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, he named the restaurant “Michelangelo da Vinci.” The pizzas were large, and the beer selection was wide (Stecca was also a brewer and even invented the bar’s unique drinking glasses). Sandwiches, bruschetta, salad, nightly fish specials, and homemade dessert rounded out the menu.
In 2014, after ongoing legal battles with local government over zoning violations, Michelangelo da Vinci shuttered for good. The airplanes have been abandoned ever since. Once, guests mingled among sculptures, frescoes, and a swimming pool in the garden beneath the wings. In the summertime, Saturday evenings were reserved for disco and live music played on Sundays. Today, any activity that takes place on the property is much less formal. Those wishing to explore the compound will find weather-battered planes overlooking a green pool with overgrown vegetation on its perimeter. The plane’s interiors are a bit dusty and litter-strewn, but are still worth a look, especially for the cockpit control panels.
Know Before You Go
If driving, take the exit for Villamarzana, then take the first right. After about half a mile, Michelangelo da Vinci is on your left. You really can't miss the giant planes.