Then and now…the casino

The first public casino in Europe was built in Ponte a Serraglio in 1837. Here is an old postcard of the casino.


The building looks much the same now, but the hotel next door is now a private house.


It is no longer an operating casino and is only open for special events. If you get the chance, go inside to see the beautifully renovated interior.

14 thoughts on “Then and now…the casino

  1. I still hope that some day in the future it may become a sort of boutique-casino-museum. The decision to fill it up with poker and gambling machines -available in most bar and cafés – instead of a few roulette, baccara and blackjack tables and an elegant bar, was a terrible mistake. And it did not work…

  2. This in unfortunately one building we never got to see the inside off. It was open for a few events last summer but we were away from the village at those times. Such a shame as your blog shows it has a beautiful and elegantly decorated interior.

  3. I was lucky to look through the casino in 2006. The rooms are beautifully restored, recapturing the Napoleonic era – well worth a small tour! I agree it needs to become a boutique-casino-museum. Perhaps, it can be the venue for opening nights of artworks, exhibitions and so forth for locals, and a boutique for local/surrounding artists and their crafts?

  4. We just had a lovely lunch there during the Colori e Sapori event. It was a beautiful day to walk around Ponte and see the artists at work.
    The casino’ is a beautiful building and it was for a time a very welcoming area as a tourist information center. It was a huge mistake to fill it with machines that are in every bar all over Italy. From what I understand, the requirements for proper licensing of a more “boutique” casino were not met. That idea is now over and I doubt will be revisited but I do hope they make the most of such a gorgeous building by having as many events there as possible. It was such a pleasure to meet the wonderful concert pianists who graced the area with a concernt last Fall. The building deserves more events of that quality.

    • If the administration team of the town was a bit more progressive I’m sure a good use could be found for the casino. It is good that it is open for events, but it is closed most of the time, which is a pity.

  5. The casino was ideal as an exhibition centre for the recent arte extempore competition. May it never be turned again into an electronic slot machine gambling den as it recently was.

  6. Yes, the casino is a beautiful building. We loved to visit when it was the Tourist Information Centre; Leda proudly took us through on one of her walking tours. It’s been beautifully restored. It would be lovely to see it used and appreciated again. (I agree with Francis – not as a “an electronic slot machine gambling den”.)

    • Nobody wants the slot machines back. I thought it made a great information centre. It meant it was open for visitors to see and Leda did a wonderful tour…we miss her.

  7. I think you’ve seen the earlier casino in what is now a meeting room of the Terme Jean Varraud? At the website you’ll find this description: ‘At the beginning of the 19th century the establishment was radically restored, Elisa Baciocchi ordered he enlargement of some of the structures and the demolishment of the others the works were controlled by the architect Lazzarini. In these new establishments of 1837 the first roulette was used before the official opening of the casino in 1839 at Ponte a Serraglio.’ You can see the room with some of the frescoes intact by entering the Terme by the main doors, and asking at the desk to see it. If you speak Italian, the man behind will tell you the detailed history, including the names of the people in an engraving hung in the corridor that leads to the old casino. Perhaps the conflicting dates for the casino at Ponte are due to confusions in the literature between the old and new casinos.

    • I have been to the room at the Terme where gambling went on. I think Circolo die Forestieri also had gambling rooms at one stage. People clearly had too much time on their hands. I would like to see the casino open to the public on a regular basis. It seems a waste to have this beautiful building closed most of the time.

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