Città del sole is a toy shop quite different from any other: not only does it differ in what is has but also for what it doesn’t have. Here the toys are not selected for what they do, but for what they make children do.
The offer from Città del sole is modelled on a teaching principle, very enlightened at the time of the first shop, which recognises playing as a crucial moment in the development of a child’s personality. The educational and business project of Città del sole started out in 1972 when Carlo Basso opened the first shop in Milan with the slogan: “…and what if playing is a serious matter?”. This question – answered in the total concentration shown by children immersed in playing – revolutionised the toy culture in Italy, no longer seen as a simple pastime or entertainment but as a vehicle for exploring the world.
This is why, in Città del sole, there are only “creative toys”, meaning that they have been specifically designed for children’s different stages of growth to stimulate their creativity through experience, imagination, curiosity and discovery. The “right toy at the right time”. Here there are no toys using batteries for actions that could be done by the child, nor are there those toys advertised or connected to television programmes or to the “latest fashion”, continually needing to be replaced.
Simple, solid toys suitable for their specific use, but also for new and unimagined uses: this is the formula for the “creative toy”, the only one able to assure the active, central and imaginative role of the child. Although the creative toys promoted by Città del sole are guided by this idea of “learning through play”, they are not overtly ‘teaching tools’. At Città del sole, the principle works the other way round: it is not the game that has to be adapted to learning – becoming artificial or boring – but the learning that is spontaneously assimilated from everything that is able to ‘test’ children’s skills.
However, not following the latest fashions and having only few electronic games does not make Città del sole less modern. On the contrary, to remain true to this idea where “the toy is a meeting point between child and world”, it is important to continue to look for increasingly innovative proposals to keep in step with the development of both children and the world. And so, in Città del sole, next to toys that were thought extinct, such as wooden rocking horses or stilts and the all time classics such as four-wheel bikes and rattles, there are very modern construction systems, kits for experiments or devices powered by solar energy or water.
While at the time of the first shops, the reliable toys designed specifically thinking of the child were mainly made in wood (Città del sole started out by importing Galt Toys from the UK to Italy), over time the toy industry has evolved, creating solid toys in high quality plastic, cotton and cardboard. Never a shop selling just one brand, Città del sole has always proposed a careful selection from the best toy companies in the world.
Città del sole has 72 shops in 58 towns and is also a virtual shop online.
POINT OF INTEREST: For the name, Carlo Basso was inspired by the utopian Città del Sole (City of the Sun), the title of Tommaso Campanella’s 1602 book, in which great attention is shown to children and to the teaching principle of «learning through play» where «the children, with no effort, while playing, find themselves discovering all the sciences».