Lonely Planet Writer

Italy holds hide and seek championship in abandoned town

The abandoned town of Consonno in northern Italy came alive once again this weekend, when a host of fun-seekers descended on it for the International Hide and Seek Championships.

The abandoned town of Consonno in northern Italy.
The abandoned town of Consonno in northern Italy. Image by Luca Nebuloni / CC BY-SA 2.0

The championships initially started seven years ago as a joke, after a spontaneous game of hide and seek at an adult’s birthday party in Bergamo. Each year the event has grown, going from a game amongst friends to an international competition. This year there were 64 teams, representing all parts of Italy, as well as ones from France, Switzerland, Belgium and Minnesota in the US.

Previous years’ contests were held in Bergamo, but this year the organisers found the perfect venue for their competition – a ghost town. Consonno, which is near Lecco, was created in 1968 as a tourist resort, complete with a grand hotel, pagoda, minaret, zoo and sightseeing train. Just eight years later it was abandoned after a landslide left the only road into town impassible.

According to the organisers of the tournament, ‘every adult deserves to be free for a weekend, playing hide and seek.’ They are hopeful that the sport will one day be included in the Olympic Games. The championship is played according to the following rules: the hide and seek arena is divided into five areas, with one member of each team hiding in each one. Each person must try to make it back to the base without being spotted by the seekers, who are the winners of the previous year’s competition. This year’s event was won by a team called Sneaky Frenchy from Marseilles in France.