Woodpecker Disco – Cervia, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Cervia, Italy

Woodpecker Disco

A domed disco abandoned since the '70s now attracts artists and explorers under its unique roof.  

The Woodpecker disco used to be the hottest spot in town. In 1952 in the seaside resort of Milano Marittima, it was at the top of the nightclub game, an intimate and exclusive spot that attracted people from all over the country to hear the top-notch orchestra and be wowed by world-class service.

But as the area grew, the residents of neighboring houses were getting a little tired of having the nightlife so close by, and the Woodpecker was ousted to a new spot in the marshlands on the outskirts of town. The club would need a new building, and the owners brought in architect Filippo Monti to design the space. Monti recalls the conversation with the owner about putting the new club on the water: “He started as a joke and I said: let’s make a circle, let the water surface and we’ll put [in] crocodiles.”

While there weren’t any crocodiles, there certainly was a circle.

Monti’s circular design, which began construction in 1966, was capped off with a giant fiberglass dome. The experimental midcentury structure includes partially open archways around its perimeter, making it a not-quite-indoor, not-quite-outdoor space. The club was opened for business in 1968, and the Woodpecker was back and better than ever.

Sadly, the Woodpecker’s final end came in the mid-1970s after an electrical fire left only the dome intact. According to the owner, bureaucratic entanglements prevented the club from reopening leaving only, as he put it “the history of a great restaurant.”

In more recent years, the abandoned structure has taken on a second life. The lonely dome has been the site of raves, parties, and artwork, including some done by the mysterious Italian street artist “Blu.”