Village Built Giant Mirror to Combat Long, Dark Winters

Village Built Giant Mirror to Combat Long, Dark Winters

( – When you want to settle somewhere as mountainous as Italy’s Piedmont region, there are some tough choices to make. One group of medieval Italians decided the top priority was a reliable source of water, and they found an ideal site beside a river. There was just one problem: For three months of the year, the sun never rises above the surrounding mountains, plunging the small town into 83 days of constant darkness.

For centuries, residents of the town of Viganella, located in northern Italy close to the Swiss border, just shrugged and accepted the fact that from November 11 to February 2, the mountain to their south blocks the sunlight. Finally, in 2006, they’d had enough.

The local bank and regional authorities raised around €100,000 ($118,000) to build a 26×16-foot, computer-controlled polished steel mirror on the mountainside above their town. High enough to catch the sun’s rays all year round, the huge mirror reflects the light onto the square in front of Viganella’s 17th-century church for at least six hours a day, giving residents a place to gather out of the winter’s chilly gloom.

Talk about putting innovation to work.

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