Vernazza is to be reborn


Vernazza under mudToday is now 3 years after the dramatic flood  in Vernazza, and it has been a long slow haul to get the place back on track. The town itself bounced back fairly quickly to accommodate tourists the next year (2012), but the important system of drainage and protective netting over large stretches of territory and the reconstruction of the canals and roads has taken much longer and is still not finished. Fencing


Fencing to block the debris







Some funds and reconstruction programs have got bogged down in Italian bureaucracy and legal action as companies who did not win the construction contracts appealed against the decision and thus blocked any progress. It’s a painful but bitter truth and has shocked many in discovering that funds allotted have not yet been spent. But then this is Italy, this beautiful land has a lot to learn about organisation!Canal VernazzaRoad into Vernazza

The recent floods in Genoa 2 weeks ago, brought back painful memories  to locals, and the civil protection unit issued the Emergency Alert in the Cinque Terre area, although fortunately the storms experienced here were not as severe and no flooding occurred. Many of the locals were among the first to be ‘mud angels’ in Genoa.



The alert in Vernazza left tourists wondering where to go and what to do in Vernazza as commercial activities were closed and the bakery and a restaurant had to reopen so those same tourists didn’t end up without any dinner! Others were left blocked at the train station till the next train came by, and told to move on. Ferries continued to offload tourists who had just disembarked from the cruise ship so it was not the most organised of gestures in handling a possible emergency evacuation.

Some before and after photos:Buried mill Restoration on Mill
Vernazza carpark








Buried house

Buried house at lamp post

Here below the lamp post is the same house!




Vernazza new canal + bridges

House wall still showing signs of where the mud and debris hit 2011


But it’s not all bad news as in November work will start on the  “Renaissance of Vernazza” project  designed by architects Lord Richard Rogers and Ernesto Bartolini. . It will restore Vernazza’s public spaces with new paving, landscape design, street furniture and energy efficient lighting.  The goal is to increase safety, simplicity and beauty for residents and visitors.  Richard Rogers project

Richard Rogers generously donated the Preliminary Project to Vernazza, a place he and his family have frequently called home over the past 50 years.  Rogers is a winner of the Pritzker Prize (the Nobel of architecture) and designer of London’s Lloyd’s Building and Millennium Dome and Paris’s Centre Pompidou with Renzo Piano. He suffered a personal loss as his son had a seizure and died the day after the flood, probably as a consequence of the tragic event.

In October 2013, thanks to donors generosity, both private and from various financial institutions,  Vernazza Futura and Save Vernazza donated the final design plans to the Town of Vernazza.

Key elements of the Renaissance of Vernazza Project  include:

Paving:  Local sandstone will pave Vernazza like a fluid stone “sculpture”, connecting the principal areas of the village in an exceptional, continuous pattern. The project makes vital corrections to the drainage system to keep Vernazza safe during heavy rains.

New pavement

Landscape Design:  New trees will improve the public spaces’ landscape and environment.Mobile benches

Street furniture:   Durable, simple fixed and mobile benches encourage social interaction.

Lighting:  Energy-efficient LED lighting designed by Renzo Piano will exalt the beauty of Vernazza’s colours.Street lighting Vernazza


Want to make a personalized donation with your name on a bench or tree in Vernazza?  Want to learn more?            

Click here Save Vernazza


And do come and see us in the New Vernazza next year!




Makers are shaping our future


Maker FaireRome AuditoriumWhat was I doing at the Open Source Hardware Summit and the Makers Faire in Rome? I’m not sure, but was attracted by the notions of sharing knowledge and technology, pooling resources, reducing waste, grassroots involvement and definitely wanted to know more about 3D printers.



It was so stimulating, innovative, inspiring, an explosion to my brain, a launch into a future full of positive ideas and alternatives to how we are living today. A total immersion in a new world of dreamers, designers and makers doing so much to make a positive change to help this tired old Earth breathe new life, find new options and make creative devices to alleviate pain and suffering. I was flabbergasted, astounded and exhilarated by it all.

And you may ask, what it’s all about? This will be my humble non geek version of what I gleaned from the experience and perhaps take some of you along the road with me to explore what’s happening in your own areas.RepRap 3D printer3D printing pen






Michelangelo's David

Too many Big Macs?!

Open source hardware is about developing new things using (electronic) technology and leaving all the details of how you did it available to everyone so anyone can build on their own modifications, pool resources and knowledge to produce better projects. It’s giving control back to the people, a type of globalized grassroots approach to sharing of information, rather than privatizing, commercializing and creating objects that someone else thinks you need and isn’t going to tell you how they made it! Using social networks for a GREAT  cause.

A lot spins around the use of an Arduino which is described on Wiki as ‘an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators.”

3D printed heart

3D printed heart for surgeons to test out solutions before operating

The co founder of it, Massimo Banzi, was one of the many inspiring speakers.  And to think it had all started as a school project in 2005!Dus architects
Arduino wearables





Some of the projects discussed were to save the world from water and food shortages, complex health problems, reducing waste, monitoring environments as well as the more frivolous wearable technology – solar panels inserted into clothing to enable you to recharge your mobile device or flashing and flashy headgear and the like.Robot

3D surgical implants





The Fablab workshop people visit schools to encourage students to come and tinker and make their own projects. They had been somewhat disappointed with student’s reactions, as often when giving examples of projects developed the first questions were “How much does it cost? Can I get it as an App?” rather than “How was it made?” The new generation obviously needs more stimulus!.

The best I can do is to give some examples for you to explore on websites and youtube like: The Strati 3D printed car by Local Motors   It can be printed in 44 hours and assembled in 2 days, weighs 680kg, powered by a Renault Twizy electric motor that does up to 60kph and designed by an Italian Michele Anoè from Turin

The Warka water project Italian design water container and shelter made from simple local building materials. Collecting water even from condensation, like droplets on a spiders webWarka water project

Pizza 3D printed  and other foods so astronauts can have more appetizing and nutritional meals, and no packaging waste.

The new style wheelchair – Marioway – to keep disabled in a standing position, thus alleviating bad posture, poor breathing and other health problems. Helping them lead a normal life, by seeing us (non disabled) eye to eye. Only part of the Demo here with a couple dancing together. It was so moving, I was not the only one close to tears.



Phonebloks – mobile phone





Phonebloks a new style of mobile phone with easily replaceable bits, as only 5% of he 1,800,000.000 (!?!) mobile phones produced every year are recycled. And think about it, we are updating out mobiles on average every 2 1/2 years and tossing the old one!

Robo hands as a prosthesis, made by a 3D printer and put together even by children who need them, at a cost around $US 30.Robo hand

Or the moveable night light for Africa made with scrapes, the Faso soap that can be made in outback villages with herbal qualities that repel mosquitoes and so fight against malaria.

Faso soap





The foldscope  mini microscope that could be made for $US1 and help in the prevention of diseases

There was just so much, I cannot put it all in a humble post. A lot of the projects are still looking for funds through various start up and crowdfunding sites  like Kickstarter and need all of us to be thinking of ways we may be able to contribute…. not just financially.

To cap off the event the first man to ever have an antenna planted in his brain – Neil Harbisson talked about his adventure in cyborism art. The antenna gives him colours in sounds as he was born only being able to see in black and white.Neil HarbissonCyborgism






The whole conference was a celebration of a possible form of future, a better world. And as they said ‘The same future you can grab with your own hands, even though it looks like Sci-Fi’


I’m off now to find my nearest Open source Fablab and 3D printer hub! And you?