The departure of Target the Coney Island Cat from Jimmy’s Balloon Dart on the Bowery for a new life in Las Vegas has left the People’s Playground without a cat mascot. It got us thinking about Italia in Miniatura, a theme park in Rimini, Italy, where a colony of cats have made themselves at home amid the tourist attraction’s 273 miniature reproductions of Italy’s monuments, churches, piazzas and landscapes.
Fed and cared for by the Rambaldi family, who own the park, the cats have appeared on calendars and starred in this 2008 film. This is not trick photography — the park’s scale models are the playground of the cats, whose names are Premuroso, Zuccherina, Pastrichio, Vittorio Emanuele, Oxford and Stu. “A thoroughly weird tour of Italy from a giant cat´s perspective,” writes Russell Bekins, who shot and edited “Italian Holiday” over a three-year period.
Several years ago, after meeting Bekins at the IAAPA convention, we first learned about Italia in Miniatura and its cats and did a story on Europe’s miniature parks for IAAPA’s Funworld Magazine. In addition to the scale models and landscaping, the park also features an interactive driving school for children, a water cannon ride featuring a replica of Rimini’s medieval castle, and other novel attractions.
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February 12, 2013: Coney Island Cat & Arcade Business Moving to Las Vegas
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October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas
October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round