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The Gran Scala project proposes building casino-hotels, theme parks and a racecourse in countryside near the village of Ontinena. The thirteenth century Church of Saint Mary sits on a hill in the centre of Ontinena, like a beacon for moral guidance. Many Roman Catholics would associate casinos with deadly sins, so the response of Father Lorenzo, the 80-year-old, bespectacled priest, to plans to build a city of casinos and theme parks next to his village, is surprising.
"In general I think it's a good idea," he says. "I suppose it could bring economic development. But moral development, that depends on the individual."
One survey found that more than 80% of the people who live in the region favour the scheme that would see more than 30 casino hotels, a convention centre, theme parks, golf courses, a racecourse and a dog track, constructed on an area of countryside the size of 1,500 football pitches.
"We have never had problems regarding financing," he says. "I am so confident because you can have the land, you can have the institutional support and you can have the money, but in this case I think we have everything to make the cocktail wonderful."