Sun Shines on the Sun-deprived Italian Village of Viganella


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj .

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Viganella village
Viganella village

In the far northwestern corner of Piedmont region, in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Italy, at the bottom of a quiet steep valley, and surrounded by tall hills sits the tiny hamlet of Viganella.

The centuries old village, located 120 km northeast of Turin and 30 km northwest of Verbania, in an area of 13.7 square kilometers, slumbers in darkness during winter without direct sunlight. The mountains to the south of the village block the low winter sun for almost three months from November 11 through February 2. No place in Viganella gets any sunlight, bringing on a permanent gloom to the village.

The desolate stone houses in the hamlet may soon become ruins due to a dwindling community. As of December 31, 2004, it had a population of 185, mostly German Buddhists. Within the next fifteen years, the population of Viganella might decrease to 100 or even 30 people.

Aware of this precarious situation, Pierfranco Midali, the mayor of the town, came up with a novel solution to bring life to Viganella. He came up with a crazy idea – “Lo Specchio” (The mirror).

Lo specchio di Viganella
Lo specchio di Viganella

On December 17, 2006, a 40 square meter sheet of polished steel mirror weighing 1.1 tons, installed on a nearby peak at an altitude of 1,100 meters reflected sunlight on Viganella’s main town square below.

The mayor of Viganella, Italy, holds a computer that controls a giant mirror on the hillside behind
Pierfranco Midali, the mayor of Viganella, Italy, holds a computer that controls a giant mirror on the hillside behind.

Built at a cost of €100,000, financed by the regional authorities and a bank, the towering mirror remotely controlled by a computer constantly follows the Sun throughout the day.

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