Italian town creates ripples worldwide with their unique innovation that brings sunlight to the dark area.
It is easy to take nature for granted. People believe events like day and night happen daily as per the schedule. Most of them enjoy the vivacity of sunlight and the calmness of the moonlight on a daily basis, but in reality, there are many places in the world where such events are a luxury. Residents of those places have to go on months without sunlight, which impacts every aspect of their lives. It becomes so overwhelming for individuals that they have to go on light therapy to deal with their lowering serotonin levels. Civilians of the town of Viganella in Northern Italy can attest by personal experience to the importance of sunlight. To help people recuperate in the months when they do not get sunlight, the government of Viganella has adopted a unique measure that has attracted the world's attention, as reported by VICE.
Viganella does not get sun for three months. From November to February, when Earth tilts away from the sun, its rays can not pass through the mountains surrounding the town. Historical archives have revealed settlements since the 13th century. This phenomenon has been in place since the inception of the settlement and civilians have found various ways to cope with it. Every year, the town witnesses its last sunset around November 11. A new 'morning' happens again in early February. This day is so important for them that every year, they celebrate it in the community with people wearing traditional clothes and following rituals from pagan traditions.
The villages of Rjukan, Norway, and Viganella, Italy, are both situated in deep valleys where mountains block the sun's rays for up to six months every year.— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) December 13, 2023
To illuminate those darker winter months, the two towns have built gigantic mirrors that track the sun and reflect… pic.twitter.com/KMcUTMJIVn
The town has not been the easiest to survive with its remote location and tough environment. As of now, it houses only 163 inhabitants. In the 90s, the authorities began to search for a way to deal with the difficulties they faced during the winter months. When local architect Giacomo Bonzani proposed a plan to install a sundial on the church façade, then-mayor Franco Midali asked him to push the plan further. He asked the architect to install a huge mirror in one of the peaks above the town, reflecting the light in the main square. The architect understood the challenges that came with this pursuit but took it head on.
Bonzani collaborated with engineer Gianni Ferrari to design the mirror, which was made available for public use in 2006. It is eight meters wide and five tall and reflects the sun's light six hours a day. The mirror has a software program installed within it that allows it to rotate and follow the path of the sun beyond the mountain. The resultant light is not as powerful as real sunlight but still is a huge improvement on past conditions. It is enough to warm up the main square and give the town's homes natural sunlight. The town is judicious in its use of the equipment and only puts it out in winter. For the rest of the year, it is covered up.
In an interview, former mayor Midali shared that even though the science behind the equipment is marvelous, the authorities are more proud of the social outcome of this mirror. He added: "The idea behind the project doesn’t have a scientific basis, but a human one...It comes from a desire to let people socialize in winter when the town shuts down due to the cold and the dark." Other places like Rjukan, Norway, are also taking inspiration from the town and installing similar mirrors.