Tom Scott

The Human-Powered, Giant Theme Park Playground: Ai Pioppi

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In the foothills of the Dolomites, an hour or so north of Venice, lies Ai Pioppi, a restaurant that’s home to an astonishing, giant, human-powered, kinetic-art theme park playground. It was designed and made by a man called Bruno over forty years, and it’s free for folks who eat at the restaurant.

I’ll be honest: I sort of thought it was a myth. The idea of unattended, huge kinetic ride-on sculptures was surely false? There was some evidence: a very artfully-shot documentary, and some shaky tourist footage, but I couldn’t quite believe that something this potentially dangerous could still exist.

So on Easter weekend, when it was quiet, Paul (@cr3) and I took a road trip to try it. And it’s real. It’s very, very real. Watch as we try and take a somersault on the Bicycle of Death.

And if you don’t take the right amount of caution, it can hurt you — although my eventual injury didn’t come through any rides, but just by tripping over by running!

AI PIOPPI: http://www.aipioppi.com/
Opening hours vary, closed most weekdays and all winter, check before travelling
Via VIII Armata, 76, Nervesa della Battaglia TV, Italy

Thank you so much to everyone at Ai Pioppi: I’m sorry for bleeding on your ride, and for pronouncing your restaurant’s name terribly. Thanks to Paul, who drove me to the hospital; thanks to the doctors and nurses at Treviso Hospital, too. And Europeans: remember to take an EHIC card on holiday around Europe, so your healthcare travels with you. I didn’t have to pay a penny or deal with travel insurance!

And more than that: if you do go, and I recommend you do if you’re ever anywhere near it: TAKE CARE. Even when you’re on an adrenaline high and you think you’re invincible. I wasn’t. You won’t be either. Hospital visits in a foreign language aren’t fun!

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