The abandoned cinema of Muggiò

Despite its name, which was supposed to evoke all the magic and charm of cinema, the Magic Movie Park in Muggiò has become one of the most sinister places in the entire Brianza area, attracting vandals, delinquents, drug users, and above all, people who illegally dispose of all kinds of waste with little concern. The Magic Movie is a ghost town that spans over 21,000 square meters at the outskirts of Milan, a concrete wound in the heart of one of the largest environmental oases in the area: the Grugnotorto Park.

The Magic Movie has now become a “non-place” that no commercial operation seems capable of reviving, and it is also the symbol of one of the most expensive real estate failures in recent years. However, the story of the Magic Movie is not only one of waste and abandonment, but also a criminal one, where for the first time there were contacts and collaboration between local organized crime and foreign groups: the ‘Ndrangheta and Chinese mafia. The story of the Magic Movie is not a forgotten one, or at least not entirely, but it won’t take much for it to become so.

The Magic Movie was constructed between 2001 and 2005 on former agricultural land, bordering Nova Milanese, owned by Annamaria Casati-Stampa. She was the noblewoman who, in the 1970s, sold Villa San Martino in Arcore to Silvio Berlusconi. Annamaria Casati-Stampa was the daughter of Camillo Casati-Stampa di Soncino, the nobleman who killed his wife Anna Fallarino and her lover before committing suicide in 1970. The incident received a lot of attention in the media at the time, particularly for the details that emerged about the couple’s unique sexual lifestyle during the investigation. However, this is not relevant to our story. What matters is that the Casati-Stampa family owned several plots of land in northern Milan, including the one where the construction of the Magic Movie began 12 years ago. It was in a strategic location near the Northern Ring Road, and a large car park was also built next to it, which is now completely covered in weeds. Despite its advantageous location and abundant parking spaces, the Magic Movie was not successful. In fact, its problems began almost immediately after its inauguration and were not minor issues.

As we mentioned earlier, the story of the Magic Movie is one of decay and neglect, but it’s also a tale of criminal activity. In 2008, Francesco Forgione, then-president of the Parliamentary Antimafia Commission, wrote about the activities surrounding the Magic Movie Park, stating, “An illicit investment operational synergy has emerged for the first time between elements of Italian organized crime and foreign groups. To purchase the property, which was worth 40 million euros, contact was made with members of the Mancuso clan from Limbadi operating in the area, a clan interested in using this initiative to launder their own liquidity.” Additionally, the murder of Rocco Cristello, who was killed by gunshots in Verano Brianza on March 27, 2008, is also linked to the Magic Movie, as he is considered by investigators to be one of the prominent figures of the ‘ndrangheta in Brianza.

Today, however, the Magic Movie only interests those who have some bothersome waste to illegally dispose of or vandals with a bit of pent-up anger to release. The exterior areas have been transformed into an open-air dump. There is everything: sofas, televisions, pieces of furniture, debris of all kinds, and even bins with suspicious substances. The interiors are devastated and covered in graffiti. Despite the presence of safety nets and cameras, entering is child’s play, but it is just as easy to get hurt. On YouTube alone, there are about thirty videos documenting the excursions of amateur explorers. The corridors are full of trash and broken glass, the movie theaters are destroyed, the screens torn, mannequins dangle from the ceiling, and flyers from the day of the opening can still be seen here and there. For at least five years, the municipal administration has been trying to recover the structure, but no entrepreneur seems interested in buying the property, not even at a price ten times lower than its value (the property is worth about 40 million euros). Three auctions, three failures: the Magic Movie in Muggiò, the former cinema paradise at the gates of Milan, seems to no longer interest anyone.

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