There was a time when kids used to play pinball not just in front of a Windows PC. There was a time when Bologna was one of the world capital of pinball. There is a time and space where pinball is more alive than ever. This place is in Bologna, where Federico created a Pinball Museum called Spazio Tilt.
Warm your fingers, concentrate, ready to throw the ball?
Inside an old pinball. At Spazio Tilt you can see and study the mechanics of pinball machines.
Pinball made in Bologna
Bologna like Chicago. Not only for basket successes in the 90's. But also because these cities hosted the most important pinball machines producers.
In 1965 an Italian law declared pinball outlaw because of gambling. A few artisans in Bologna found a workaround and started to sell new machines that allowed only to win other balls and not matches.
More than 30 companies were born and the history began.
Like the one of Zaccaria's brothers: a carpenter, an electrician and a barista who created one of the most important pinball companies ever. Finely decorated by designers, Zaccaria's pinball machines are real works of art. Their most famous product? Soccer Kings, inspired by 1982 Spain World Championship: he even talks in Italian.
Zaccaria was one of the few companies to survive the transition to electronic pinball machines and their story lasted until 1991. The only current producer is Stern from Chicago.
But in Bologna metal balls are still running, faster than ever.
Bat game by Williams, 1952
Spazio Tilt, more than a museum
Since I was 6 I've been collecting stamps, Kinder surprise figures, telephone cards, soccer t-shirts, vinyl records.
Federico Croci just pinballs. But with a different kind of love and passion than a classic collector who enjoys his hidden gems in his basement. He does what all the great kids should do but hardly happens: he shares his games.
In 1996 Federico created TILT, “Museum and Archive of Automatic Bolognese Games”: an association that collects, preserves and studies the history of the automatic game like pinball machines, jukeboxes and coin-operated video games.
But it's not only about archiving and preserving. At Spazio Tilt you can actually play with them. For free. Forever.
It's the paradise of nerds, the treasure chambers of retro maniacs, the Mecca of vintage lovers and Stranger Things fans.
Space Invaders pinball
What you can find at Spazio Tilt
At Spazio Tilt you find:
- 40 pinballs, mechanical and electromechanical of Italian and foreign construction, from 1830 to 2004 from Federico's collection
- mechanical games like “mini bowling”, “microguide” or “Computer Space”, the first coin-operated video game in history
- gadgets, memorabilia, Pac Man everywhere
- free coins to play them
What's Spazio Tilt then? A museum? An arcade?
Probably both and even more. It keeps alive the stories of a local industrial district and shows the evolution and development of gaming through almost all 900'.
There you can meet young kids and old men together, yelling for an unexpected bounce or writing their new record on a blackboard.
Free coins to play all the games at Spazio Tilt for free
How to visit Spazio Tilt
At the moment (January 2018) Spazio Tilt is set inside a room at Oz, an ex factory now used a space for free climbing, parkour, skateboarding and yoga in the suburbs of Bologna. Like another great and hidden vintage technology museum of Bologna, Mille Voci...Mille Suoni, Spazio Tilt deserves a proper location to show all the 400 pieces of Federico's collection.
From the city centre you can get a bus (25 - 35, info at www.tper.it) or walk over the street art bridge of Via Stalingrado and keep going for other 15minutes. It's not the greatest promenade ever, but you can always take a deviation and stop at Trattoria di Via Serra to celebrate a new record.
Address: Via Stalingrado 59, Bologna
Tel. 335 664 8558
Opening time: Tuesday and Thursday 8:30pm - 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 3:30pm - 8pm
Cost: 8€ for the yearly association card
The location where Oz association and Spazio Tilt were set as been bought by a bank.
At the end of July all the flippers, facilities and games in the area have been moved.
Spazio Tilt is still looking for an alternative place to live again.