The story and the trick of Columbus's Egg - Greats technologies that have shocked the world

Jacopo Fo tells the story of Columbus's Egg (or Egg of Columbus) for the series "Greats technologies that have shocked the world" of Alcatraz Channel.
An egg of Columbus or Columbus' egg (Italian: uovo di Colombo) refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact.
In this video Jacopo Fo reveals us the trick used by Columbus to remain upright egg which is discussed in the story gave birth to this adage.

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Mario Pirovano: Johan Padan and the Discovery of America REVIEWS

Mario PirovanoTHE TIMES

June 1, 2002

“It’s clear that Mario Pirovano loves to tell stories. (…) Dressed simply in dark trousers and sweatshirt, with only two tapestry-like paintings by Fo hanging behind him, Pirovano moves energetically across the stage, imitating everything from castanets and fireworks to turkeys, iguanas and surviving a shipwreck by floating to shore clinging to a pig.”
Ian Johns


June 5, 2002

“This monologue from the great italian political farceur Dario Fo offers an exuberant counter-myth to the Western history of Columbus.
Rather than bludgeoning the audience with the horrific realities of Renaissance exploration, Fo instructs with historical irony – seeing Europe from the other side – and the generosity of burlesque. Pirovano is an engaging performer, who chats to the audience before and after the show and hurls himself about the stage to enact, without set or costume, everything from the firing of homemade fireworks to the correct method of taming a wild horse.”


June 5, 2002

“Pirovano is good at button-holing his audience, especially when speaking in his own person, and he brings agreeable roguishness to his mimed. (…) Engrossing stuff, vividly told…”

Mario Pirovano web site

Mario Pirovano english version

Mario Pirovano: Francis the Holy Jester REVIEWS

Mario PirovanoLondon,  May 2009

‘Mario Pirovano’s performance of the Holy Jester was a highlight of our year and a wonderfully uplifting experience that we will never forget. The event brought together a diverse audience of students and staff from across Queen Mary and beyond, all the members of which were visibly invigorated by Mario’s engaging approach. We await his next visit with eager anticipation.’
(Nigel Relph, Director of Corporate Affairs, Queen Mary, University of London)

‘On a warm summer evening in London Mario Pirovano transported his audience to medieval Italy, and created an unforgettable encounter with Francis of Assisi. Pirovano’s evocation of history was impeccable, yet the message he conveyed was as fresh as can be: a powerful critique of greed and hypocrisy, and a timely warning against squandering the truly important gifts of life: nature, love and friendship.’
(Professor Miri Rubin, Department of History, Queen Mary, University of London) 

Mario Pirovano web site

Mario Pirovano english version

The Negative Left will bring us to our Doom

I thoroughly enjoyed Roberto Saviano’s speech at the rally for the resignation of the current administration in Milan, during which he stressed that we must start imagining a new world, rather than merely opposing Berlusconi…

I will attempt to explain by way of an example: The situation in Italy is tragic, not only because of B. and because of widespread corruption, but also because of the stifling bureaucratic system which, according to statistics, costs 15 billion euro annually – money thrown down the drain on administrative paperwork. However, this is a one-sided evaluation, which ignores the fact that it takes years to get permission to do anything in Italy, and every year we waste billions of euro on a bureaucracy that suppresses business.

For example, let’s say you want to manufacture a hundred bottles of liquor? That’s a crime. Or perhaps you would like to produce some jam? That’s also a crime. Nobody knows why exactly we are so weighed down by these insane regulations. Don’t be fooled, all these rules do not guarantee the quality of the jam. I could easily produce a jam that is concocted of sugar, frozen fruit, colourings, fungicide, pesticides, flavourings and preservatives, and yet it is legal to do so as long as I adhere to the regulations. It is clear that in such scenarios anyone who is in anyway corrupt would be in their element. In other countries, however, the logic is the opposite: you are not asked for any official paperwork, but should you screw up they will make you pay dearly. In Italy they put countless hurdles in your way from the start, and then if you screw up it could take up to ten years before you are prosecuted and you will most likely end up with two convictions and a fine. This state of affairs is partly the fault of a certain left-wing authoritarian tradition.

We have a striking example right before of our very eyes: a solid agreement between the Right and Left is preventing the construction of almost all large solar photovoltaic (PV) farms. The government is putting a new law into effect that prohibits PV farms which exceed 1000kw, and in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany they are introducing even more restrictive regulations. In practice, we are relinquishing the possibility of building energy farms that would produce more electricity than any nuclear power plant B. could ever imagine, and thousands of potential jobs will be lost as a result.

I know that voicing this will awaken the wrath of many… but my opinion on the matter is a simple one: a) we become dependent on nuclear power or b) we face a disastrous energy crisis. How can we allow large wind and solar energy farms to be outlawed simply because they are not aesthetically pleasing to the eye? It is complete nonsense when people state that the ground will become sterile after 30 years as a result of the shadow cast by solar panels. On the contrary, although the panels are placed roughly 2 metres above the ground, they do not completely prevent the sun’s rays from shining on the earth’s surface (as they do not have a continuous surface), therefore herbaceous plants can be grown beneath the panels in order to regenerate the soil and agricultural land, exhausted from intensive chemical exploitation, can be allowed to lie fallow. It’s rumoured that solar energy farms have to be cemented to the ground, whereas steel posts are in fact all that is needed…

But thinking about the realities of the environmental impact of all this is boring. Better to ban them all. But if you ban them all you are left with nothing. I believe it is better to make proposals that can convince even those who are not environmental enthusiasts. Learn the art of mediation. Only when we can reconcile ecology and the economy can we even attempt to get millions of people on board. At times we have succeeded: for example, thanks to the grants received from the Energy Efficiency Scheme local authorities in certain regions were persuaded to distribute millions of water-flow restrictors to households’ free-of-charge, and only because of this have we succeeded in reducing our excessive water consumption. Some are of the opinion however, that grants such as these, which were established as a result of the Kyoto Agreement, are a load of rubbish because they make a commodity out of our ecology. That may be true, but they do exist regardless of whether we decide to avail of them or not. We decided that we would, and thanks to a successful campaign we can say that we, in Italy, have saved millions of litres of water.

But, despite such results, we are seen as traitors in the eyes of some ecological fundamentalists. The real question is this: are we in favour of taking small concrete steps? The question the progressive movement should be asking is whether the vision of a credible and concrete future generation is enough to drive Italians out of their indecisiveness and rise above politics. We need to work out an inventive means of creating a consensus of ideals and quantifiable interests. We have to recognise that the power of every small action we take today is a step towards a significant outcome for tomorrow.

Translated by Clare Hawkins and Ingrid Clancy, MA in Advanced Language Skills, NUI Galway.


We are a Great People!

Foreigners mock us because they are jealous (Italians do it better!)
I feel a rush of patriotism. It’s all Benigni’s fault. He’s taught me to appreciate the fact that Italians are going through a glorious period in the realm of satire. Luca and Paolo in Sanremo, Grillo, Hendel, Luciana Littizzetto, Paolo Cortellessi, the Guzzantis, Daniele Lutazzi, Paolo Rossi, Albanese, Crozza, Dandini, Vergassola, Benni, Vauro, Staino and even Travaglio, who acted out his crazy set-pieces... they are all producing their very best. No other country  can boast such an army of irreverent comedians.
 Where else would two comedians like Dario Fo and Franca Rame  be able to televise an entire comedy-stint without sound? Remember Atlantide TV? Thanks to  Dell’Utri’s threats, Sky aired one hour and forty-five minutes of silent film, leaving newspapers all over Europe speechless. Foreigners cannot even begin to understand such poetic levels of surrealist satire. It’s what makes us Italians truly different. We exaggerate everything, starting with Art. Benigni was right when he said that we have paved the museums of the world with kilometres of artwork pillaged from us.
Italy is a country where strange currents meet. We’re so exposed in the heart of the Mediterranean. We conquered the world but then we immediately sustained every possible invasion. Even the Normans, who circumnavigated Europe, came to our shores just to try to knock us off our pedestal. We have the sun, we know how to eat, we play music like the gods and no one can outdo us when it comes to making love. It’s all good here - we know how to live.
Now they are taking the piss out of Berlusconi. They should look at their own lousy ancestors! Even I’d give Berlusconi the finger, but you must be joking if you think I’m going to allow an Englishman lecture me on him. They have Blair, who finally admitted the truth: Britain went to war in Iraq not because there were weapons of mass destruction, but rather to keep their prestigious alliance with the United States…and didn’t they make a right mess of it?
As for the French, it would be more beneficial for them to look at their own problems rather than criticize the mere speck that is ours. Why don’t we start talking about France's role in the massacres throughout Africa over the past 30 years? Or we could perhaps mention the cannibal Bokassa who gobbled up left-wing students and later presented Giscard with a gift of diamonds?
Who can tell us what morals to heed? The New York Times? Don’t make me laugh! You who have supported a succession of presidents who have plagued the world, and their own soldiers with depleted uranium, torturing and slaughtering innocent civilians… and who have backed all the world’s fascist dictators.
We have Silvio who screws 24 minors in one session and gets Mubarak to cover for him at police headquarters. So what? We are a thousand times better than you, so much so that we vastly outlive all you French, English and Americans! We even live longer than the Spanish and Germans; at least that’s what the statistics say! Why is it that we live longer?! We are masters of perseverance! The Italian System works the best! The fact that the Prime Minister is up to something new every day entertains us! Reading the newspaper or going onto the internet to see his latest lover in the nude is our way of relaxing…
And yet, Berlusconi’s resoluteness cannot be denied! That’s the Italian spirit: We stop at nothing! We have overwhelming determination. Whatever we do we do to the extreme! The Pyramids of Egypt are nothing compared to what we have achieved. We have built thousands of kilometres of roads and aqueducts all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. We are the inventors of the bikini, the helicopter, the submarine, the armored-tank, the aeroplane, Viridian green, Titian red and denim jeans. We discovered electricity, the Pythagoras Theorem, America, the Fibonacci sequence, the Atomic Bomb, the “maggiorata”, the Vespa, pizza, the Russian salad and espresso coffee… We brought silk and rice back from China and translated the scientific texts of the Arabs.
We taught the French how to cook and how to do theatre, and we taught the Germans how to drink beer and eat potatoes. We invented the Mafia and Freemasonry in order to defend ourselves from invaders and from the powerful. We built New York and Buenos Aires. We have our own scheming networks, secret alliances, counterfeiting, illegal trading, smugglers and spine-chilling monetary transactions. We also have the Pope… we were the birthplace of Christianity, of Democracy, of scientific-thought and classical music; and wherever you are in the world you won’t be hard put to find an Italian restaurant.
Therefore, dear foreigners, please tone down on lecturing us for not having driven Berlusconi out yet. We are holding onto Berlusconi because we are in a particular moment in our history. It is only a phase. We have had our ups and downs… and now we are on a low. We already have Berlusconi to make fools of us. But we have to admit that he is unlike any other... He is a genius who descends directly from Julius Caesar, Boniface VIII, Machiavelli, and the Medici and Borgia families. If he were to stand for the next elections in the United States he would be capable of winning! Forget Obama.

Translated by Clare Hawkins and Edward Valentine, MA in Advanced Language Skills, NUI Galway.

How to reduce crime in 7 days

Professor Antanas Mockus, a lecturer in mathematics and philosophy of Lithuanian origin, was giving a class in a lecture theatre at the University of Bogotà to an audience of distracted students, offspring of a city where the inhabitants speed through the crossroads to prove who has right of way. The professor was convinced he had something important to say and decided he definitely wanted to be heard. So, climbing up onto the teacher's desk, he proceeded to pull down his pants and underwear, revealing his behind to the dumbstruck students. The professor then concluded his lecture and left the theatre. The students remained paralysed and speechless. The professor was fired from the university for unacceptable behaviour. He declared: “Obviously you are not interested in teaching unless you can maintain those useless rituals which grant you.” Angered, he decided to stand for local elections with the absurdly named Visionary Party. He won the election. His manifesto: to cut the number of homicides by half. It was absolutely necessary to reduce criminality, which had reached frightening levels: during 1997 Bogotà recorded 4,500 homicides, more than 12 deaths a day, amongst a population of just over 5 million people. It was among the most dangerous cities in the world. But where to start? Antanas Mockus began by tackling a secondary problem, still linked to crime, which was hugely visible and relatively simple to solve with shock therapy- the question of traffic violation. In this regard he confronted the most visible and simple aspect: traffic lights. No one ever stopped at the traffic lights. The idea was that respect for the traffic lights would have a positive impact on the city. The mayor assisted in an unexpected and surprising way. A thousand clowns were hired and one beautiful morning the motorists of Bogotà found their traffic lights patrolled by groups of funny clowns, who squirted water at the drivers who did not stop at red lights but danced and offered flowers to those who respected the right of way.  At the same time, hundreds and thousands of flyers were distributed, showing the drawing of a fist with the thumb raised in the gesture of OK! The same flyer turned upside-down, with the thumb facing downwards, signified obvious disapproval. At the traffic lights you could see the clowns using these cards to approve or disapprove of the behaviour of the drivers. People began to copy them, and soon it was discovered that the citizens of Bogotà were more afraid of clowns and other motorists making fun of them than the fines of the traffic wardens. The traffic started to improve and coincidentally in the space of a week the number of homicides fell.

In the meantime structural measures were taken - public transport was doubled and efficient support systems for poor families were devised,  allowing them to build decent houses on public land and turning the collection of waste into a resource for the poorest: food, medicine and books in return for sorting refuse.

 So, thanks to the recycling and valorisation systems, the once inefficient waste collection system now provided work for thousands of people through a micro-organisation of the service. The city became a cleaner place. The bureaucracy was simplified and the systems rationalized. Among the measures taken to change the people’s image of the city was the invention of “Women's Night”. Every Friday night it was forbidden for men to be even seen on the street (although there were obvious exceptions) - on this night the city belonged solely to women.  If this wasn't enough, the Orange Juice Night was introduced: one evening a week in which it was forbidden to drink alcohol.

Reforms   were radical: thanks to “Pot” (Plan de Ordenamiento Teritorial /Territorial Organisation Plan), a project to redevelop   dilapidated  parts of the city, new green parks were created to the point where the number of public green areas in the city increased by at least 4.5 times in only 5 years. Between 1997 and 2002 a new water supply system was set up and some rivers and canals were cleaned. Four large libraries, and 16 smaller ones, were constructed along with 52 new schools which were built in the city’s suburbs. Thanks to the “Plan Maestro de CicloRuta”   297km of cycling and walking tracks were created across the city within the space of ten years.

These changes in the city had a profound effect upon the reduction of crime. The statistics of the Mockus government in the battle against crime are astonishing: between 1997 and 2002 homicide fell from 4,500 to 2,000 (per annum). Much remains to be done in Bogotá (50% of the population remain below the poverty line) but unquestionably the quality of life and the opportunities offered to its citizens have unquestionably come on in leaps and bounds.

Translated by Clare Hawkins and Ilona Noone, MA in Advanced Language Skills, NUI Galway.

Ilda Boccassini, Berlusconi’s best ally

According to the latest opinion polls, Berlusconi (of the PdL Party) has been rated at 30%, an increase, albeit miniscule, of about half a percent, despite the fall in popularity that was expected following his most recent scandal - Outrageous! The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is on a fast decline, having only 24-25% of the votes. Vendola (of the SEL Party) however, is the only left-wing politician to be on the rise, at 7%. How is this possible?

In Switzerland a politician had to resign for embezzlement when he bought a Toblerone with his business credit card. Another politician was fired when it was discovered that he made an under-the-counter payment to his baby-sitter for two days work…
In Italy, the fact that Berlusconi used his official escort cars to drive guests to his home is considered commonplace (the police were the only ones raging like bulls for such professional indignity).

Berlusconi still has the support of millions of people, while the world looks on dumbfounded. We (the Italians) are the aliens.

I spent long hours pondering the reason behind this almost science-fictional situation. The mystery was unravelled when I received this message from a friend on Facebook: Italians live for gossip.

Italians are convinced (God knows why?) that all politicians are the same. They presume that all politicians attend orgies, take drugs, steal and  ensure all their relatives  obtain secure  positions in public offices. The reason that Italians, as a whole, prefer Berlusconi is because there is no one quite as good as him in letting everybody know every single little detail of his sex-life. We all know how many hot showers he has had with D’Addario; we are all too well aware of how many women (white, black and mulatto) were at his house last May 1st (there were 20, to be exact) – we’ve seen the photographs of them all, with and without their brassieres; and should the situation continues in this manner, sooner or later we will see photos of Silvio with all his equipment in full display surrounded by police and nurses with curious round holes on their uniforms, at their breasts. Be honest, what other politician has ever entertained us so much? He truly is the juiciest piece of gossip there is!
It wouldn’t baffle me if a survey revealed a dramatic increase in the number of sexual relations among Italians during the first week of the Ruby case. It also wouldn’t surprise me to discover if these sexual fantasies, exposed through a shower of phone-tapping as well as publicity photos of the Prime Minister’s many large-breasted mistresses, have saved thousands of his citizen’s marriages that were destined for the grave by awakening dormant urges.

It is argued that this curious passion unleashed in Italians by the sexual adventures of B. have a positive impact on their health… Could it be a coincidence that the flu is late this year?

Although Berlusconi is a Democratic politician, he only goes to bed with girls who have been photographed scantily dressed  and are published on the web for everyone to see. He would never be caught dead having sex with chaste duchesses that run around in veils. He wants bawdy women who are in the public eye, so he can be sure that all his compatriots can admire the fruits of his conquests.

Who has ever seen the boobs of D’Alema’s mistress (if he has one), or even Bersani’s mistress for that matter? We simply presume that Bersani is completely faithful to his wife. Why would we think of voting for him and spoil our fun? Please, enlighten me!

In light of this, I have decided to launch a petition addressed to Boccassini: Your Excellency, I understand that it was in good faith that you became a public minister and it is your duty to prosecute crime, but prithee put a stop to your juicy investigations of Berlusconi. You’ll ruin all the fun for us, and we may never be able to get rid of him!

P.s: The situation, however, is not so tragic… In actual fact people like Vespa cleverly mystify the opinion poll results… As a matter of fact, due to the recent scandals the number of undecided voters and non-voters has significantly increased ( reaching more than 40%), a fact that has been overlooked. This means that when politicians from the PdL say on Porta a Porta (a daily television programme aired on Rai 2 that deals with political matters) that the majority of Italians stand alongside them it is complete nonsense. PdL and Lega Nord together, according to Porta a Porta, are rated at around 40-45% of the 60% of Italians that actually use their vote – all the other parties are sick to the bone of this show because the 45% of the corresponding 60% who vote, if my mathematics serves me right, comes to 27%. In other words, they have roughly secured the same popularity rating as all the opposition parties put together. As a result the leading Italian party consists of those who are fed up with politics, followed by those who are pissed off with B., and last, but not least, the masochists.

Translated by Clare Hawkins, MA in Applied Language Skills, NUI Galway.

Dario Fo in the story of John Horse, a black Seminole indian

Hollywood films on american indians always tell us of indians been defeated. In this video Dario Fo tell us a different story never been told before. The story is the one about the epic John Horse, who fought against the American troops during the second Seminole war (1835-1842). Dubbing Mario Pirovano.

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Hai amici anglofoni? Segnala loro questo video, grazie!

Solar Ecovillage, a different place where to live

Solar Ecovillage- Where is it? Visit the map
- Why a Solar Ecovillage?
- The philosophy of the project
- Prices
- Are you interested in buying?
- “Ready to sell” houses
- Appendix 1: know exactly what you’re buying
- Appendix 2: The Ecovillage amplifies opportunities
- The Ecological House video
- Notes on ecological housing. The example realized by Alcatraz.


Solar Ecovillage Map

Solar Ecovillage Map 

Today hundreds of thousands of people throughout the entire world choose to live in Ecovillages,  and for  decades have been experimenting a different quality of life which is definitely superior to living in highly polluted city centers.
After a year of debating, bureaucratic documentation, surveys and projects we’re finally ready to go.
Within 470 hectares of land, the Libera Repubblica di Alcatraz park will finally host an ecological village, its Solar Ecovillage.
It will be one of the most innovative projects regarding ecotechnology, and we will commit ourselves to making it one of the most beautiful and culturally lively villages ever seen.
An extensive valley which opens upon a  breathtaking panorama of green and trees where nothing besides nature is visible to your eyes; no noise, no traffic, no cars. This oasis of true peace is just 12 km  from the closest pharmacy, bank, elementary and middle schools as well as the local supermarket, another 2 km and you can access the E45 Orte – Ravenna clearway. The ecovillage distances 30 km from Umbertide, and 40 km from Perugia.
Valleys and hills where woods cover the land. Here and there you can come across olive groves , meadows and pastures, five groups of houses and bungalows.

The distance between the groups of houses goes from 400 meters to a kilometer, therefore  they are rather close, but the environmental impact is reduced to a minimum because you can barely see the houses on so much surrounding land.

You can choose between a rural stone house with highly efficient energy  installations or a futuristic home entirely  built with class A  insulated  lamellar wood. You can choose between a house constructed on the top of a hill, on a mid-hill position, along the banks of a stream, amid woodlands. Big houses or super insulated 40 SQMT bungalows or even just a pitch for your caravan. Every home has a small garden, a vegetable patch, an olive grove and at least 2000 SQMTS of woodland.


Localizzazione Ecovillaggio Solare

Buying a share of the project  you also buy part of the  community shared structures such as the outdoor and indoor swimming pools, the party or ball room, garden irrigation, photovoltaic solar power plant, and the hydraulic plant.
The shared properties  include 200,000 SQMTS of woodland and olive groves.
The idea is that this advanced cohousing not only will allow homeowners to save money and reduce living costs, but it will also enable them to gain a profit that could cover “condominium costs”.
We thought of houses that can be heated using low energy consumption and that can make the owner earn money, instead of spending it.
Here you can produce your own energy with solar panels, cultivate your own vegetable garden and live in a place where you can organize cultural events, courses, shows and exhibitions. 
In the village, living is thought like a social and supportive experience: this concept makes the community willing to plan and organize something together. Obviously, this is an opportunity, not compulsory.
What’s more, Banca Etica is available for financing your project.


There’s nothing ideological here. Basically, anybody who buys a house can run it however he/she wants. The only thing we expect is that everybody should respect one another and behave in a polite manner.
All decisions will be taken by the habitants, exactly like in a condominium. Alcatraz contributes to the building and the designing work only; it won’t stay in the village after its completion and, most of all, it won’t get any kind of land revenue.
However, the Ecovillage borders are next to Alcatraz, so residents will have the chance to interact and collaborate with the organization. Obviously, this is something everybody has to agree with and, again, it is not compulsory.

A different economy, a new conception of “house”
Our plan is to create a different kind of house that can reduce energy consumption and condominium costs to the lowest level. What is more, the owner can save money through several activities, like growing fruits and vegetables, gathering wood, salad, medicinal herbs and mushrooms from the surrounding woodlands, and using the shared washing machine.

Further information
Telecom (the National provider) has already installed a repeater with 26 high-speed lines. Alternatively, a specialized company can provide a wireless connection.

In Umbertide, 30 km from the village, you can find the closest hospital, cinema, theater and high school; all of them can be reached driving down a no traffic light street.
Perugia, 45 km away, hosts the nearest regional hospital, several high schools, academic faculties and important libraries. If you want to get there you can take the 4 lane clearway.
Within 15 km from the village you find the elementary and the middle school, a bank, a supermarket, a pharmacy, a veterinarian, a farmers’ cooperative, a petrol station, a newspaper agent and tobacco shop, a hairdresser, restaurants, pizzerias, a tennis and a soccer field, the local sport center and a council house.

The weather is typical of the hills: usually there’s no fog, but, if there’s  foggy weather, you’ll admire a “sea of clouds”,  just like in the traditional Japanese pictures.

Alcatraz will build a dike in the Resina torrent, a water storage (restoring the one of the mill) and a system that will provide, through sand, carbon and chlorine techniques, filtered and drinkable water.
In order to optimize water consumption, rain will be treated with the chlorine system: it won’t be drinkable, but it can be used for toilet flushes. The fitodepuration, thanks to its 5 different structures, will reuse the water coming from the flushes to irrigate vegetable gardens.


You can buy either  a turnkey home or a rough construction.
The cost per SQMT can vary from 2000 to 2800 euros and it covers solar and thermal panels, a 2000 SQMT field and the condominium properties (streets, parking area, 200 thousand SQMT field - nice woodlands, olive groves, meadows -, a contribution for the ball room, the laundry, the indoor swimming pool, water systems, shared photovoltaic system – in addition to the individual ones). 
Price depends on the features you choose.
The cost for the notarial deed and the installment payments will be decided individually: price can vary whether the house is a principal or a secondary residence, an individual or a company purchase.
Banca Etica is available for the project financing, as well as to supervise and check the adequacy of the prices. A cooperative will be in charge of the work.
If you’re interested in buying, we’ll provide you with the following information:
detailed description of: single flats, houses, characteristics of tiling, shutters and heating systems;
description of the cooperative work and the individual notarial deed;
about the cooperative statute;
about the loan (in general).
Below you can find the map of the flats, the entire Ecovillage and the local area.


If you’re interested in the project, please send your address and your preferences to gabriella@alcatraz.it.
Otherwise, if you want to know more about the available buildings, phone this number: +39 075 9229776 or +39 075 9229913.
You can come and visit the Ecovillage whenever you want. You can choose the house you prefer and reserve it paying a deposit; if the project doesn’t start within June 2011, the deposit will be given back.
Once you've decided the building features you prefer (for example the internal division of the flat or the house covering), you can join the cooperative and sign the purchase contract, paying a first installment that covers 20% of the entire sum.

Ecovillage graphic projects and house plans. Click the images to enlarge.

Progetto Borgo Oliveto


Progetto e piantine Fattoria Scuola


Progetto e piantine Casa Solare


Progetto e piantine Casa Rurale

Ecovillaggio Solare





The “Mulino” (Mill) group: 2 big houses, divided into flats, and a little single family house
We named it Mulino because (guess what?) there’s a real mill, with two paddles and two millstones. It’s very small and old, vertical axis, and it used a technology that, according to the History of the Boringhieri Technology, was discovered in the year 100 B.C. The mill was used in poor areas of Umbria and Provence until 1950s, like our Mulino.
During the medieval period, it was run by food smugglers. Nowadays it is still possible to see the ruins of the walls of the ancient furnace, situated behind the big house of the Ecovillage. Here, the no man’s land between Perugia and Gubbio, people didn’t follow any specific law. Residents used to make their own flour and to cook rooftiles, important goods on which people had to pay a lot of taxes.  
The mill, potentially, could be restored and work properly.
There are other facilities too: the water storage (that brings water to the village), a new house, on the other side of the torrent, and two restored buildings (a small stable and a house). A pedestrian bridge will link together the two sides of the torrent.
The constructions are made up of 11 flats, available in a various range of areas.
However, these buildings need energy efficiency improvements (16 cm thermal insulation, new solar and thermal panels) and other modifications that will take 6 months of work from their reservation.
For a better thermal efficiency, it is possible to install three pane gas-filled windows and other specific features.

The “Laghetto” (little lake) houses
They’re situated on a little upland at the top of the hill. In the area, a very cosy place, you can find a big building, two or three smaller houses, and a lake.
Homes, divided into 6 flats, will be made of a particular kind of lamellar insulated wood, daubed and decorated. They’ll be highly thermal efficient, provided with three pane gas-filled windows.
We expect to complete this project within 8 months from the beginning of the work.

The “Oliveto” (Olive grove) Area
This is the area where you can find the majority of the houses.
At the moment, there’s a ruin with a couple of minor attached buildings (the Capuzzola Houses), a little isolated house (Capuzzolina) and the  structure of a building that will have big windowpanes pointed towards the south.
Between them you can find olive groves and meadows: here we’re going to build 2000 SQMTs of first class efficient lamellar houses, daubed and decorated with big wall paintings.
In the middle of this place we’re going to put a little pedestrian square, a fountain, a 150 SQMT ball room, a shared laundry and a heated indoor swimming pool. All the residents will be the owners of shared facilities, therefore everybody has the right to use them.
What’s more, we committed ourselves to creating a bar, a bazaar, a restaurant and an 8 room hotel. These structures, that require a longer period of work, will be run by an independent company (different from the cooperative). However, everybody will be eligible to buy a part of these buildings.
We expect to complete these highly efficient  energy houses within three years, even though this is only a general estimate. They’ll be provided with three pane gas filled windows, solar and thermal panels. Most of them will have a cellar too.
Around the square, there’ll be 4 single family homes and unconventional houses, made of daubed straw, raw earth, etc., that can offer a high standard of comfort and a very good energy efficiency. 
These houses are already available for purchase. Buy one of them within November, and you’ll decide the subdivision of the interiors without additional cost.

The Capuzzola House (Oliveto Area)
This area is made up of a big house (divided into 5-6 flats and a tower), and two small family homes. The first construction will be made of stone and daubed lamellar wood, while the second one of lamellar wood only. Anyway, both of them will be highly energy efficient, provided with three pane windows, solar and thermal panels.
Work will be completed within 8 months since its beginning.

The Solar House (Oliveto Area)
This building is located at the top of a valley, surrounded by kilometers of green land and 2 hectares of black and white truffle field. Its structure – 2 floors with wide French windows- is made of reinforced concrete and will be completed with highly insulated refurbishments, solar and thermal panels and three pane gas filled windows.
The house, divided into 8 flats of different areas, will be completed within 8 months since the beginning of the work.

The Gnome Houses
We’re also going to build 46 SQMT lamellar wood houses: highly insulated, daubed and decorated. This particular project will take at least 3 years and we can’t provide any further information about it.

Additional condominium features
We planned to build a place for a barbeque, small fireplaces where to have a grill or sterilize food jars, a wood stove and open-air tables where you can either cook or eat.
The 6 vegetable garden areas will be provided with an automatic irrigation system and a small storeroom for the tools.

The Bosco (Woodland) Area (under construction)
The Mayor of Perugia authorized the construction of 16 self-building houses, each one 89 SQMTs wide. The council committed itself to transforming this agricultural area into a building land as facilitation for people with low income (18 – 28 thousand euro per year) and have been living in Perugia for at least 12 months.
The features of these buildings will be decided by the self-building workers.

Technical reports about the first restored structures
Here you can download and find all the information about these 4 buildings.
Mulino House Technical Report
Solar House Technical Report
Rural House (Yellow house) Technical Report
Laghetto House Technical Report


Appendix 1: know exactly what you’re buying
We want the people involved to know what we planned to build and how. It’s good to know the terms of the contract, the features of the buildings and the general principles of the company.
Therefore, we scheduled a few meetings where you can visit the Ecovillage and join our conferences about Bio-Architecture, energy efficiency, thermal insulation, heating systems, solar panels, wind turbines and water depuration. During this tour we’re also going to guide you through highly efficient buildings, solar panel systems, fitodepuration structure and the Alcatraz heating systems, which enable us to produce more energy and biomasses than we need.
At the end of the meeting we’ll provide you with further information about our technical solutions, the properties of the materials and the management of our heating system, the water, the electricity, the sewers and the irrigation.
The method we’ll be following to build the Ecovillage is unique. You can also get information about the approvals we obtained; in particular, the one regarding our economic balance, which is regulated by Banca Etica in order to ensure a fair price.

Who’s going to build the Solar Ecovillage? (Is this a safe purchase?)
Banca Etica committed itself to supervising and assisting the project through the direction of a builders’ cooperative. When a person acquires a house, he/she pays a part of the shared properties as well: this means these properties will be managed by a cooperative formed by all the home-owners.
Sergio Los and Natasha Pulitzer have got 40 years of experience of Bio-Architecture. They analyzed our territory and designed the project according to the architectural and the thermal criteria suitable for the Ecovillage weather.
Professor Maurizio Fauri – University of Trento- analyzed the energy efficiency.
The water system was built according to the directions of a famous specialist, Pietro Laureano.
In addition, all the decisions were approved by our Libera Università di Alcatraz, which has 30 years of experience of constructions and restoring.
Service Legno and Safra are two reliable building companies that worked for Alcatraz and other customers. We appreciated how they worked, therefore they’ll be in charge of building the Ecovillage too.
Energia Arcobaleno will be the Ecovillage quality brand.

What is Alcatraz
The Ecovillage is not Alcatraz. The “Libera Università di Alcatraz” is a cultural center where people can sleep, eat (very well), attend courses, etc. Workers don’t live in Alcatraz, but in the surrounding towns. We’re not a sect: we love cooking, polite manners, laughter therapy and, sometimes, even common sense.
We don’t know therapies that give solutions to problematic issues like death and pain, but we firmly believe that united we’re stronger.
We strongly believe in the few relevant points of the Alcatraz statute (unmodified since 1981):
Life is good but spaghetti can be improved.
Violence is useless, but, most of all, tiring.
If someone slaps you, try to dodge it.
Universe loves who sleeps.
Together we’re stronger, alone you’ll get bored.
Even ants have their rights.

If you want to know more about Alcatraz, see the video we show our guests called "Questa casa non e' un albergo" (this house is not a hotel) (http://www.alcatraz.it/questacasa.html).

We ensure, again, that the Ecovillage is an independent structure, with no links to Alcatraz and vice versa.
However, we believe life is the art of meeting people. Therefore, we’ll be happy to collaborate in a friendly and mutual manner, in order to combine together everybody’s qualities.



APPENDIX 2: The Ecovillage amplifies opportunities
Becoming a good communicator and taking advantage of it.
About condominium rules and regulations.

I think we should try to create a cooperative environment, a community where people have the chance to collaborate voluntarily and with no obligations. Therefore I can’t see the necessity of scheduled homeowner meetings, shared expenses, shared childcare or other services.
What’s more, I believe homeowner meetings may stimulate “leaderism”, conflicts, disagreements and separations.
I’ve been living in Alcatraz for 30 years and, during this long period, I learned people are able to rule themselves spontaneously. I think we tend to collaborate naturally, therefore creating restrictions is a mistake.
I believe in the importance of couples and their work to improve the relation. A group is an amount of couples. This concept stimulates the process of decision making.
For example, in Alcatraz a group of 15 people works together, brings children to school, buys wood, organizes events and parties; all of them without scheduled meetings, restrictions, obligations and shifts.
At the same time, I don’t think people should buy goods together. Obviously, when everybody is using the same washing machine and is having birthday parties in the shared ball room, I think sharing some expenses could become natural too.
As well as having your own little internal trade (cookies vs. tomato sauce).
Anyway, I must say sometimes this kind of trade is confusing and difficult to manage. In Alcatraz we exchange our goods without keeping track of it, and everybody decides the person he/she wants to exchange things with: obviously, who doesn’t behave generously or fairly won’t be asked to join us. As I said, everything is based on couples.
In conclusion, I’m writing these words because I don’t want anybody who buys an ecovillage house to feel obliged to make certain decisions.
In addition, I think that if we rule our behaviour we may risk to share the village with people obsessed by restrictions or with someone who would like to establish a communist society overnight and doesn’t think about everybody’s limits or needs.
It’s too easy to consider this project as a religious and ideological commune, an experience that could cause but pain and resentment.
The Ecovillage is not a commune or a therapeutic community. It’s a VILLAGE, with its fundamental forms of democratic decision making. For example, when homeowners decide which works have to be done every year, then they shouldn’t need scheduled meetings anymore (except for extraordinary repairs): works could start automatically.
I also believe they shouldn’t determine the amount of hours a person has to work on maintenance or other stuff. This method causes obligations, disagreements about the quality of work, arguments: definitely not good!
I suggest following this method: if homeowners decided something has to be done, then they could ask for an estimate; at the same time, if anybody from the Ecovillage was willing to do it, then he/she would be responsible for that, like an independent company working for the village. I think this method could make everything easier.
But, who should be the one asking for the estimate and supervising the work? He/she could be a kind of property manager, paid for this job, and living inside or outside the village.
I believe paying workers is a way to avoid arguments and problematic situations.
It’s easy: if you employ a person, for example the property manager, and you don’t like how he/she works, then you can always hire someone else.
On the other hand, if the manager is a volunteer then he/she could pretend gratitude, while residents could feel a kind of guilty when asking for better work to an unpaid person.
It’s a total mess. You waste time (the most important thing in our life!) and people start arguing and being angry with each other.
However, it’s useful to know that ecovillage people may be paid with either euros or timebank cheques. It doesn’t matter how, but work has to be fairly paid. 

The simpler a society is, the better it works.
I believe in very few fundamental rules; for example: you can’t wake me up in the middle of the night because you’re in the mood for loud music, as well as you can’t throw your rubbish in the fields or disturb me anyhow.
In order to be fully respected, restrictions must be made for very few fundamental prohibitions.
We have the right to imagine a perfect village, but we need to act practically, aiming to simple goals, instead of planning homeowner meetings.
Nowadays, nowhere in the world, except for religious sects, it is possible to live with 200 people inside a place like the Ecovillage: ecological, surrounded by nature, with shared essential structures and energy self-production. 
There’s no other condominium that, if well managed, makes you earn some money instead of spending it (for fixed energy expenses, maintenance work), and there’s no other place specifically projected to facilitate human relations and collaboration.
What’s more, we planned to facilitate people with low income through affordable prices,  good conditions of purchase, collaborations.

The community, independently, can decide whatever it wants: it could happen that everybody gets crazy and residents establish that men and women have to wear skirts and pea green clothes. The fundamental thing is that it has to be decided by a unanimous vote. Why? Because there’s no clause in any contract where it’s written that you have to respect the restrictions decided by the majority of the village. Except for the fundamental rules: they won’t be written in the contract, but they’re established by the State law.
Making noise, talking or shouting loudly are not a crime. There’s no need to write this in my group of internal regulations, but it could be useful to reclaim some basic condominium rules. Anyway, these are “natural” one, not special: if I tell you something obvious it doesn’t mean I’m establishing a new rule. It’s completely different.

How should I pay the mortgage back? What should I do for a living?
It’s a very complex issue.
First of all, we have to consider everybody’s skills. We could dream about giving everybody a job, that people from all over Europe (or Papua New Guinea) would come and visit us, that we could organize meetings and parties, publish books and write blogs, sell our windmills and solar panels, make medical herbs and shampoos with woodland flours.
But these are dreams, and people have to consider real things, like tiredness, inexperience, wounds…
If you want to know more about potential jobs, click http://www.jacopofo.com/?q=node/2343 (AAA Progetto autoimpresa rivoluzionaria offresi).
For example, here http://www.jacopofo.com/node/6418 I tried to give some information about working in bio-agriculture. On the other hand, a big part of the responsibility relies on people’s communication and working skills.
Myself, I can talk about this issue during the meetings we scheduled to explain the project.

Ecovillages are an alternative to metropolitan cities.
Ecovillages offer a life in touch with nature.
Ecovillages facilitate human relations.
Ecovillages are economically convenient.
Ecovillages are clean.
Ecovillages are nicer.

Jacopo Fo



The Ecological House Video

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Notes about ecological houses. The Alcatraz example.


1)This is the basic structure of the new thermal efficient house, built with lamellar wood and covered with short layers of reconstructed stone. It’s thermal insulated and provided with ventilated walls and roof.
You just need a crane and the structure, as you can see from the picture, can be set-up in a few days.

2) This is the new high efficient house hosting Alcatraz. In the background you can see the valley where we’re going to build the Ecovillage.


3) The greenhouse is pointed towards the south. Therefore, it facilitates heating, it makes you save money and it offers rooms with breathtaking panoramas.

4) Here you can see the inside of an unfinished construction, where we’re going to put 2 cm of insulation, all the wires and the pipes. In the end, everything will be covered by a natural pine wood wall.
The outside will have 16 cm of thermal insulation and it’ll be provided with ventilated gap, panels, wire mesh, concrete, glue and regenerated stones.

5) Underfloor heating enables you to cover a wide area. Unlike traditional radiators, where water needs to be warmed up to 60/70 degrees, here you can keep it under 45 °C and save quite a lot of money.


Tag: eco villages ecovillages