Grown-ups frolicking in an abandoned Italian resort reminds us that playing isn’t just for kids.
There is so much to be dismayed about when considering the world at large right now, reading the daily news is enough to drag one deep into a swamp of despair. And while complete escapism may not be the best approach into avoiding said swamp of despair, it feels important to find some ways to maintain some sanity. With this in mind, it’s a great time to lose oneself in a great book, volunteer for a cause you hold dear, pick up litter, spend time in nature, or like the 320 people who will be competing in the hide and seek world championship in September … lose yourself in the pure (albeit competitive) joy of play!
On September 3-4, in the curious village of Consonno, nestled in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 64 teams of five will vie for the title of hide and seek champs of the world. Making the quirky scenario even better? The setting.
Once known as Milan’s “Land of Toys,” Consonno is at once depressing and magical. That an ancient rural town was razed in 1968 by one Count Mario Bagno – a real estate developer who wanted to create an Italian Las Vegas – is tragic. But the ensuing eccentric resort, complete with a grand hotel, pagoda, minaret, zoo and sightseeing train have become historic in their own right, even if it’s just as testimony to the folly of man’s whims.
The fate of Consonno was sealed in 1976; after eight years of fun, a landslide rendered the single road to Consonno impassible, and the resort quickly descended into a ghost town. Fast-forward 50 years and really, what better place could there be for hundreds of grown-ups to take on a two-day game of hide and seek?
Players will be coming from all over Italy for the antics, which is officially known as the sixth annual Nascondino World Championship. (Nascondino is hide and seek in Italian.) The first championship was held in Bergamo, Italy, but once organizers set their eyes on Consonno, they were sold.
“Looking at those fields,” organizer Georgie Moratti told Quartz, “we immediately imagined they’d be perfect to play hide and seek! And that was the beginning.”
Players are between 18 and 60 years old, as mentioned before, there are 64 (coed) teams of five members each. As Quartz describes it:
The rules are simple, but strict, and enforced by two referees and a game coordinator. The teams are divided in four groups, and one person per group hides while a “neutral searching team” counts 60 seconds. Participants then have 10 minutes to jump out of their hiding spot and hit a target in the middle of the playing field, without being found or caught by the searching team. The competition continues for two full days, until a winner is declared.
A member of the winning team from 2014, Michele Zeffino, told Quartz: “It was pretty competitive, each team had their tactics, and they were all effective.” He said his team had to think on their feet but learned some tricks that they will deploy in the upcoming contest. “Obviously we will never disclose them,” he said, though he admitted that the hardest part is “to decide when to come out from hiding.”
Given the state of things right now (thank you, election season) ... I think a lot of us can say the same.