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Aristo’s – M’illumino di meno

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12th February is the National Saving Energy Day, “M’illumino di meno” which is held each year in Italy where people try out various systems that visibly show that they are attempting to save energy.

That evening the lights that normally illuminate many national monuments in Rome and Milano will be switched off to “highlight” this attempt at saving energy on a large scale.

Here in Barga, for the fourth year running, Aristo’s bar will be joining in and switching off the lights for the evening and instead turning to candle power to keep the dark at bay. A team of cyclists will take turns to mount and keep turning the pedal power generator which will supply, if all goes according to plan, the lights to keep everybody in sight.

It all went like clockwork … the technician arrived at five to switch off all the street lights in Piazza Salvi. The comune put out large candles around Palazzo Pancrazi and outside the shops in the piazza. The Mayor of Barga, Marco Bonini and members of his administration arrived just as it was getting dark and the “M’illumino di meno” festa 2010 was off and running.  Two bicycles were set up inside Aristodemo Casciani’s bar with dynamos attached produced the light for the event and first up on the bikes was none other than the Mayor himself.

Outside in the piazza Nicola Salotti from the art group Venti d’Arte started to put of his candle installation but the wind whistling through the piazza finally put paid to that so in the end he gave up, promising that he will be back next year for another try.

Inside the bar the musicians started up their concert of traditional Italian light music .. mandolin, accordion and drum and they were quickly joined by Geoff on guitar and Keane on the Irish drum. More people arrived to take the place of the local politicians on the bikes and the party moved on.

Next up came the 100 year old coffee machine ( article here ) Another smaller version suddenly appeared on the bar, nobody was really sure from where it had arrived but that too was prepared ready to make coffee. The beans were first ground by hand in an restored coffee grinder and then the small alcohol stoves under the coffee machines were lit.

While people waited, freshly baked castagnaccio was passed round. It did take some time for the coffee to percolate through but finally it did to a round of applause from the gathering, although their were not that many people prepared to risk tasting the bevarage. The brave one or two who did actually sip the coffee pronounced it surprisingly good. The machine will be cleaned and put back up on the top shelf to gather dust for maybe a few more generations before it will be called into action once again.

The pedal power generator was a “work in progress” involving quite a few organisations here in Barga.

The base is an exercise bike from the spinning studios of the palestra di San Pietro in Campo The mechanics at Tecnocross supplied the dynamo, lights and wiring from a three wheeler Ape and the talented wrought iron specialists at Togneri Ferro Battuto  assembled the bike. Claudio the electrician in Piazza Angelio wired everything up and made sure that the thing worked on the night.


Per il quarto anno consecutivo Barga ha aderito a “M’Illumino di Meno”, giornata simbolica per il risparmio energetico lanciata dalla trasmissione radiofonica Caterpillar a livello nazionale.
Ritrovo per tutti, dunque, da Aristo in Barga Vecchia, dove, a partire dalle 18.00 di venerdì 12 febbraio, la fantasia e la forza cinetica dei barghigiani ha illuminato (fievolmente, per la verità) il locale in modo alternativo.
Due biciclette, una da spinning offerta dalla palestra Activity di San Pietro in Campo, l’altra più modesta tirata fuori dalle cantine di Barganews (uno dei maggiori promotori dell’iniziativa a Barga) sono state collegate a una dinamo che raccogliesse energia da ridistribuire al fanale di un’ape recuperato insieme all’impianto elettrico grazie a Tecno Cross, il tutto assemblato da Togneri Ferro Battuto per le parti meccaniche e dall’elettricista  Claudio Redini per la parte elettrica.
Spente le luci pubbliche dei lampioni di piazza Salvi e del vicino palazzo Pancrazzi (sostituite da candele sui davanzali) alle 18.00, in contemporanea con il resto d’Italia, si è quindi cominciato a pedalare per ricavare un po’ di luce alla mescita del Casciani, nel frattempo riempitasi di musicisti, pedalatori, curiosi. Ad iniziare la produzione di luce tramite bicicletta a dinamo il sindaco Bonini e gli assessori Salotti e Salvateci, poi affiancati per le due ore della manifestazione da altri/e valorosi/e.
Intanto, musica per tutti e rigorosamente acustica, con fisarmonica, mandolino, percussioni, accompagnata dal castagnaccio offerto dal locale e da un caffè… storico. È stata usata infatti usata una strana moka centenaria alimentata da un fornello ad alcol per preparare la bevanda, tanto per rimanere in tema di fonti alternative.
Avrà invece maggiore successo l’anno prossimo l’idea di Nicola Salotti per Venti d’Arte, che aveva preparato un’istallazione a base di candele da esporre fuori dal locale, che però è stata funestata dal vento continuo.
Anche gli altri comuni della Comunità Montana della Media Valle hanno dato il loro contributo: a Ghivizzano è stata spenta la torre di Castruccio Castracani; a Fabbriche di Vallico è rimasto al buio il ponte medievale; a Borgo a Mozzano luci spente invece sul Ponte del diavolo, alla chiesa di San Martino e presso il centro di Protezione Civile.
A Roma, fulcro dell’iniziativa, addirittura è stata accesa la più grande lampadina illuminata da energia rinnovabile (diametro di sette metri per  un’altezza di tre piani), attivata da 5.000 watt prodotti da 50 ciclisti, ma anche in altre città italiane non sono mancate istallazioni creative e di sensibilizzazione verso la produzione e l’uso di energie rinnovabili ed di loro corretto utilizzo. Il tutto appoggiato da Camera e Senato, Citta’ del Vaticano, Parlamento Ue, ministero degli Esteri, ministero dell’Ambiente, da aziende come Poste italiane, Edison, Coop e dalle associazioni ambientaliste, Lega Ambiente e WWF in testa.  – Full article and more images on the Il Giornale di Barga site here

The European Parliament, the European Commission, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Court of Justice and the Council will all take part in the Italian-based awareness-raising campaign on energy saving ‘M’illumino di meno’ (I’m using less light) on 12 February.

Staff in the different institutions is being encouraged to participate by turning off all non-essential lighting and electronic equipment between 18.00 and 19.30.
In addition, the Institutions will participate as follows in a symbolic act of support:

As in previous years, the European Parliament will switch off all the outside lights and the maximum possible number of inside lights in the buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg between 18.00 and 19.30.

The exterior lights of the Berlaymont, the Commission’s flagship building in Brussels, will be switched off for 10 minutes between 18.00 and 18.10. In addition, all non-emergency lighting in the entrance halls of the Commission’s buildings in Luxembourg will be switched off at the same time.

The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions will switch off all external lights and all non-essential lights in all of their buildings from 18.00 to 19.30.

The Court of justice will switch off the maximum possible number of both outside and inside lights of its main building in Luxemburg between 18.00 and 19.00.

The ‘M’illumino di meno’ campaign was launched by the Italian radio programme Caterpillar in 2005 and seeks to reduce private and public energy use. During its annual awareness-raising day, individuals and organisations are asked to make a symbolic gesture of support by switching off lights and all other non-vital electrical devices powered by non-renewable energy sources. This year, the campaign also encourages switching on lights from renewable sources.

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