Ai Pioppi started as an Italian restaurant and turned into a secret amusement park

It’s not often (or ever?!) that we’ve seen a single restaurant spawn an entire amusement park but such is the case with Ai Pioppi, the eponymous restaurant and amusement park combo located in an Italian forest. In 1969, the founder, Bruno, set up a makeshift food stand featuring some sausage and wine underneath a tree on a whim, just to see if any locals would be interested in his offerings.1vdfveBy the end of the day, Bruno was almost completely out of food and wine and thus, Ai Pioppi the restaurant was born. Bruno soon built a proper restaurant with walls and saw immediate success with his venture. The Italian man came by the amusement park part of his business similarly; that is, completely spontaneously and without much forethought.2tghrtg

Bruno visited a local blacksmith to get some basic metalworking done for his restaurant. In the spirit of “teach a man to fish,” the blacksmith taught Bruno how to solder metal on his own. It was this single moment that changed the course of Bruno’s life forever. 3grgerTaking his newfound knowledge back to his restaurant (and surrounding forest) and constructed a giant metal slide for his restaurant guests as a kind of gimmick to draw in new diners. The slide was a hit, just like his restaurant, and Bruno started on the next piece of his growing empire. 4ddbdbtIn the preceding four decades, Bruno has added a number of increasingly complex rides to his cadre. There’s a swinging bridge, a giant merry-go-round, see saws, tilt-a-whirls, swing set and other wacky realities of Bruno’s imagination. 5fhdhAll of Bruno’s rides are handmade by himself and are run completely on kinetic energy, meaning that not a one is plugged into an energy source. Instead, its the guests’ own energy that propels these fun machines forward, which totally vibes with the spirit of the place to begin with— that do-it-yourself-edness that Bruno imbued into every part of his compound.6bgbrtA group of Italian filmmakers even produced a short documentary on Ai Pioppi. In it, you get a glimpse into not only the restaurant and the rides, but Bruno’s philosophy on life and death (it’s not as heavy as it sounds). 7fyjyyhAi Pioppi doesn’t mimic Disneyland and never comes close to King’s Dominion. It’s a wholly personal experience; a relic of simpler times and is especially indicative of the Northern Italian way of living, namely taking pleasure in small delights and delighting in the unexpected. [Sources: Atlas Obscura, This Is Colossal, Amusing Planet]