Sunlight made in Italy

Viganella, a small village nestled in a valley on the Italian-Swiss border, faces a peculiar problem. Surrounded by mountains, the town is plunged into darkness for three months every year, from November to February. This lack of sunlight has led to a dwindling population, with many residents seeking sunnier climes. According to historical archives, the area has been settled as far back as the 13th century, meaning generations of locals have spent more than 800 winters in the dark. In an attempt to reverse this trend, then-mayor Franco Midali proposed a bold solution: a giant mirror to reflect sunlight down into the town square. Architect Giacomo Bonzani took on the challenge and, with the help of engineer Gianni Ferrari, designed an 28’ by 16’ mirror. Installed in 2006, the mirror is programmed to track the sun’s path, reflecting sunlight for six hours a day. While not as strong as direct sunlight, the reflected light warms the square and provides much-needed natural light to homes.

Viganella’s success story has inspired similar projects elsewhere. A similar mirror was installed in Rjukan, located in a valley in south-central Norway, after a group of engineers came to Viganella to study the mirror on site. This image probably conjures up desolate landscapes in Scandinavia, Russia or Alaska in the depths of winter, when the lights have to be on all day and people resort to light therapy to tackle their falling serotonin levels. 

The mirror cost about $125,000. Eight meters wide and five tall, it reflects the sunlight for six hours a day. The reflected light is, of course, not as powerful as direct sunlight, but it’s enough to warm up the main square and give the town’s homes some natural sunlight. Although created to solve a very practical problem, the project has an almost poetic side to it too. “The idea behind the project doesn’t have a scientific basis, but a human one,” former mayor Midali said in a 2008 interview. “It comes from a desire to let people socialize in winter when the town shuts down due to the cold and the dark.” Viganella’s success inspired other towns around the world. A similar mirror was installed in Rjukan, located in a valley in south-central Norway, after a group of engineers came to Viganella to study the mirror on site. While history is full of examples of solar mirrors – from Archimedes’ mirror, said to have burned a fleet of Roman ships in Syracuse. Viganella’s project still feels unique and sort of sweet. It’s appreciated hugely by its residents, who will bask in the light of their artificial sun for generations to come.

Sunshine smiles

In my country we have a special word for the first day of sunshine that follows two days of rain.
We call it “Monday.”

I’ve invented a solar-powered still!
It turns sunshine into moonshine.

Bread is like the sun.
It rises in the yeast and sets in the waist.

What type of flower grows on the surface of the sun?
An Ultra-Violet.

May 8th Birthdays

1993 – Ana Mulvey-Ten, 1965 – Melissa Gilbert, 1961 – Janet McTeer, 1993 – Olivia Culpo

1982 – Stephen Amel,  1979 – Matthew Davis,  1975 – Enrique Iglesias, 1957 – Bill Cowher

Morning Motivator: