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This abandoned and never finished “City of Toys” in Consonno was almost Italy’s own Las Vegas

David Goran

Until 1962, Consonno was a small medieval town with a population around 300, and, though just an hour from Milan, its location in the hills of Brianza was remote and peaceful. Residents had survived here by growing and harvesting leeks, celery, and especially chestnuts from the bountiful trees which grew on the mountain slope.

There were around 300 people living here at the beginning of the 20th century. Source

There were around 300 people living here at the beginning of the 20th century. Source

Italian businessman and enigmatic entrepreneur Count Mario Bagno, who during the period of the Italian economic boom with his company was building roads and airports throughout the national territory, saw Consonno and had a vision: “City of Toys“. He was hoping to draw tourists from Milan which was just an hour away.

The glitzy resort town he had in mind would be a Las Vegas-style ode to wealth and hedonism, with casinos, bars, clubs, shopping arcades, and hotels. The total cost amounted to about 22.5 million lire in 1962, a time of Italy’s economic boom, and when historical importance often fell behind the drive for future commerce.

His idea was to completely demolish the village, and create a huge entertainment complex, something similar to Las Vegas in the United States. Source

His idea was to completely demolish the village and create a huge entertainment complex, something similar to Las Vegas in the United States. Source

In order to realize this project, however, it would be necessary to demolish all the buildings of the ancient village then existing. A nearby hill was leveled with explosives to provide a better view of the Alps. The only buildings that were not destroyed were the church dating back to the thirteenth century, rectory and cemetery. This was not a problem for the inhabitants.

Those who had decided to stay in Consono rather positively saw the work of the count, thinking that Consonno would become a farm holiday center that would bring jobs and opportunity to directly sell their products.

Every day Consonno was becoming more of a ghost town. Source

Occasionally Bagno would erect a building and then demolish it, his tastes having shifted during its construction. Source

The old houses were replaced by buildings. One of the most ambitious projects of the Count would have been to build a race track. In an interview with Swiss television that he was making a documentary on Consonno , he said that the track would be small , but certainly in terms of aesthetics would be one of the most beautiful in Europe : small but very elegant.

The City of Toys enjoyed a brief time of being in business after 1967. Source

The City of Toys enjoyed a brief time of being in business after 1967. Source

The new Consonno enjoyed a brief heyday during the late ’60s and early ’70s, but it was not yet finished. Even though construction was still ongoing, people visited the paradise of pleasure to get married, watch famous entertainers on stage, and enjoy the restaurants and nightlife offered.

Consonno had become an entertainment center with a huge shopping mall and restaurants that hosted great personalities of the music and entertainment for parties. Source

Consonno had become an entertainment center with a huge shopping mall and restaurants that hosted great personalities of the music and entertainment for parties. Source

 

Once the population declined to about 60 in the 1960s, this ownership would change the fates of Consonno's residents, as well as the entire town. Source

Once the population declined to about 60 in the 1960s, this ownership would change the fates of Consonno’s residents, as well as the entire town. Source

The inhabitants, who earlier helped him operate in the demolition, stopped as soon as they realized what was going to really happen. Many residents began to abandon the village and the few remaining were forced to live in prefabricated huts. However, these residents soon left in the 1970s, along with the influx of paying customers.

At that time, however, many inhabitants left the village because of the agricultural crisis. Source

At that time, however, many inhabitants left the village because of the agricultural crisis. Source

Count Bathroom though he wanted to continue to build new attractions such as a soccer field, a basketball court, a tennis court, a golf course, a skating rink, an amusement park and a zoo.

Construction was eventually halted due to the lack of visitors. Source

Construction was eventually halted due to the lack of visitors. Source

 

Consonno is officially a trespass-free zone following a 2007 rave that left its buildings damaged, trashed, and covered in graffiti. Source

Consonno is officially a trespass-free zone following a 2007 rave that left its buildings damaged, trashed, and covered in graffiti. Source

However, 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.