"Ai Pioppi": just with pronouncing it once, a scenario full of happy memories and fun moments come up to my mind. Every time I remember my childhood in Treviso, I feel immensely glad and deeply nostalgic at the same time, but I guess the latter is rather related to the inevitable passing of time than to the place itself which I left some years ago. Speaking of time, the Ai Pioppi amusement park is that very place where I feel like the clock has stopped. I feel like I have entered another world where the traditional conception of place and time do not apply. I feel quite the same when being inside Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
The way up to Montello Hill to reach Ai Pioppi hidden gem appear vividly before me. As a little girl I have never been a fan of the rides and I still remember being amazed at what, by that time, I would describe among the scariest rides! I was too young to appreciate the craftmanship and the creativity of the inventor who built that world of wonders. I would rather be focused on how to slide down without hurting myself or looking bad. I would rather look forward to enjoy an ice-cream together with my siblings, after the sweats and the adrenaline rush.
The name of the park comes from "pioppo" which is a kind of tree, namely the poplar. There is plenty of them up there (do not be deceived, for in the truth, the Montello rises to a maximum of 371 m elevation, which can be anyway quite a lot if compared to my beloved flat Denmark). Besides being it an amazing natural oasis, the Montello offers a variety of local restaurants where to taste delicious food. Among other typical specialties from Veneto region, you will be able to try the "polenta" and the "formaggio fuso" (melted cheese) at Ai Pioppi. Do you like the sound of that? Then I suggest you continue the reading to take a dive even more into this magic place.
VALENTINAAround & About Treviso:
Between the intense green of trees and the gentle ups and downs of the streets that break through the vegetation suddenly you bump into a sign: OSTERIA AI PIOPPI. The handcrafted amusement park stands right in front of you. Childhood memories of many locals, because sooner or later all of us took a trip to Ai Pioppi.
Photo credits: Valentina Facchin. All rights reserved.
The peculiarity of Ai Pioppi, besides attracting the curiosity of the international press, has brought FABRICA up to the Montello hill. Actually the creative center founded by Luciano Benetton dedicated a documentary video to its history. I promise you, take some time to watch it, it's extremely exciting and it touches your heart.
Ai Pioppi started by chance in 1969, when Bruno Ferrin took a jug of white and red wine, some sausages and soppressa (local cured meat) and set up a sort of restaurant along the street. A successful idea and at the end of the day all the food supplies are over. But Bruno's talent is not just limited to food and when some time later he needs some hooks and as the blacksmith is not available, he learns to weld by himself. And little by little the Ai Pioppi amusement park takes shape right from his own hands.
Bruno, born in 1939, has created on his own all the attractions, which grow among trees as works of art. An astounding talent and an extreme passion for an activity started and created almost by chance.
Photo credits: Valentina Facchin. All rights reserved.
Looking at a leaf hovering in the wind or staring at a branch rolling on the ground, Bruno's mind immediately thinks of an attraction to be created and he starts working on it. The immense passion and satisfaction expressed by Bruno's words deeply touches my heart. And when one of his attraction is completed and it actually works, he stares at it with his eyes and his heart full of joy.
After listening to Bruno' story you'll love even more this place, which marked the childhood of many people in the area. Ai Pioppi is a sort of expression of our land as well as our people, when back in the 60s the economy was really poor while the resourcefulness of its people were enormous.
In addition to being the expression of a territory, Ai Pioppi is free entrance. Which is something unusual nowadays. But you will wonder how it still can be open? Next to the amusement park there is an osteria (a tavern) and a restaurant. The osteria is wonderful in its simplicity, just like Bruno. Once you take your order, sit down in the shade of the trees and taste your simple food enjoying the light breeze blowing in the Montello hill.
I have been several times to have fun among the rides of Ai Pioppi and, to be honest, I would say that it is a playground more for adults rather than for children. However, outside attractions, if they are not recommended for children, you will find a sign explaining it.
Do you want to know my favorite? The slide of course, which stands in among trees. Before sliding you need to get a piece of cloth, climb stairs - please, don't do it, if you suffer from vertigo - and when it's your turn sit on it and go down. A unique fun!
The uniqueness of this place is its history itself. It's not a multinationals amusement park where its attractions are advertised anywhere. Where expecting a long queue at the entrance gate and a ticket to pay. Ai Pioppi is a reality that geos deep into everyone's heart, which is part of our region's roots and I promise you, you will want to come back. No matter the age.
"If you see a ride that is about to break, please advise at the cashier". Photo credits: Valentina Facchin. All rights reserved.