Consonno: The italian Las Vegas that You will never hear about

Consonno is a name that doesn’t let you think about anything at all, not even to Italians. It’s hard to think that for almost twelve years it has been a fancy “Italian Las Vegas” of northern Italy. Here’s the story of the ghost city you can see now.

“Who lives in Consonno, lives longer”, entrance arch says

Everything started from a single rich man’s mind: Earl Mario Bagno’s was the man, wishing to build his own Sin City in the middle of the Brianza Hills, close enough from the city of Milan and not so far from Switzerland. Was a time when 50s were almost gone and the “boom economico” — the italian boost of economy and wealth during the 60s — made everything possible. Even buying a whole farmer’s village and building up a 30 metres fake minaret instead, around dancing clubs, and an arabic-styled mall instead. Besides the project of pools, zoo and a racecourse, dynamite was trimming the hills around, ‘cos landscape view was important. The idea was not to answer the customers needs, but to create a brand new one: a new and funny expensive shelter from the everyday life.

1962 is the year zero of the whole thing, when 200 farmers where sent off from their houses and escavators where building brand new roads of connection, saving just the church nearby and the cemetery. Consonno was in a great position for this idea: 600 meters the height, in the middle of green hills with a beautiful natural view of the Resegone mountain. It soon became a tribute to Kitsch art: medieval arch at the entrance — with statements like “In Consonno we party every day”— , fake war cannons, chinese pagodas, the Grand hotel Plaza and casinos, with some big shows through the years.

Problems begun in 1976: after years of big growth, visitors number was decreasing and a landslide destroyed the only connection road. The final blow was given by slow burocracy times, worsened by some Bagno’s bad relations with local administrations. The new road wasn’t built before 2007, when the whole sight — together with Earl Bagno’s death — was more than forgotten.

40 years later, there’s not just rave parties and curious adventurous people around: an association (www.consonno.it) organizes legal guided events in order to keep memories alive, waiting for the next investor, just like waiting for Godot.

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