The Magic Lantern is closing: goodbye to “intelligent” games

The toy store in Campo San Barnaba, one of the last in the city, is closing. The owners: rents that are too high and online vendors have made it impossible for us to continue here.

By Massimo Tonizzo

VENEZIA. The Venetian historic center is losing another of its cultural and historic points of reference and by the end of the month will have to bid farewell to a shop which, with its games for both children and adults, has been the center of play for entire generations, as well as the last toy store still active in the city. On 30 September the Magic Lantern, a historic toy store in San Barnaba will close its doors. For twenty years the store has represented the “intelligent game” in the historic center under the guidance of the two owners, Beatrice Di Fonzo and Manuela Bueti.

The reasons for the closure are, unfortunately, those which are heard too often in Venice: rents that are too high, falling sales, competition from the Internet, but – at least in this case – fortunately there is the desire to reopen. This probably means searching for a space that is more in line with the needs of those who want to bring culture and not only games to the city.

It is Beatrice, in giving the announcement of the imminent closure, who offers a clearer explanation. “We are closing simply because as things are now, in this space, at this moment, we can no longer manage to continue. This temporary stop destabilizes us, angers us, demoralizes us, but it will pass, and it leaves space open for new ideas. We are still incurable optimists (only optimists sell toys) and we do not want to lock up in a desk all the experience we’ve gained”.

Until then, therefore, the search for a different space begins, where perhaps sales can be mixed with cultural activities. For now Venice is losing its last bulwark of play, and exactly when they will finally reestablish themselves in another part of the city is unknown. In the course of twenty years in business, the shop in Campo San Barnaba had become a point of reference for many passionate Venetian game players, with a ground floor dedicated to creativity mainly for the youngest, and the first floor full of board games.

It wasn’t difficult, furthermore, to run in to famous authors (Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitelli, who were for years part of the staff, but also Leo Colovini and Dario De Toffoli), or players who, with the years and common experience became creators themselves. “After twenty years in business – added Beatrice, – Venice, and families with children who then become young adults, have given us so much and this for us is a precious and great gift.

This enormous affection we have received should not be transformed in to a tragedy, because it is not a tragedy if Magic Lantern closes. The tragedies are elsewhere, and we certainly don’t mean to end our adventure”. For now, however, while waiting for a return which we hope is quick, on 30 September the “showcase of wonders” will close on a campo which, after the recent passing of “Franco Libri”, feels culturally much poorer.

-Source: La Nuova Venezia, 14 September 2018

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