10 July 2014

The Tuscany Showcase sows the seeds for future growth

PratoTrak tb homepage

"Da Piazza a Piazza", an itinerary for the historical 2-day walking race.

ABC3D Summer Camp

The local showcase based in Tuscany, successfully implemented in the summer of 2013, focused on the impact of creativity on the promotion of lesser-known archaeological sites, dislocated in two different regions of Tuscany – Carmignano in the Province of Prato, and the Maremma area to the south – linked together by a common theme: the presence of the Etruscans. These areas were chosen to test the impact on the public of both traditional and technological creative activities: experimental archaeology for the reconstruction of an ancient Etruscan cart, employment of 3D technologies to replicate artefacts from the era to employ in various situations, organization of side-events (such as theatre performances and hands-on activities) to engage the younger generations, development of applications for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets (the applications Carmignano tbRoselle tb and Vetulonia tb continue to be downloaded even after the main exhibitions held in July 2013). These activities were skillfully planned and worked together to demonstrate how, by focusing on a peculiarity that characterizes a location - a historical event, a personality, a legend, a typical food or artisanal item, and so on - it is possible to build upon it and create an attraction that will bring visitors to the area, thus boosting the local economy. Liaising with the local authorities, businesses and cultural associations in the areas touched by the showcase proved to be indispensable, while collaboration with the Superintendence of Archaeology in Tuscany and the Museum directors guaranteed the high quality and accuracy of the reenactments and of the materials employed to develop the applications. The impact on both the visitors and the local communities involved was great, well beyond our expectations. The excellent teamwork of the people involved proved to be a winning combination and it inspired the creation of a spin-off: Associazione Culturale PRISMA, which will in future take over the showcase activities developed during the CreativeCH project.


VAST-LAB/PIN’s partnership with representatives of the Province of Prato, Grosseto and the Superintendence continued even after the completion of the tasks assigned to the group in the project. VAST-LAB/PIN received additional proposals for collaboration, specifically for the creation of new apps, and for the virtual and physical 3D reproductions of important artefacts, while the authorities of other localities, who were either present during the original interventions or who heard about the Tuscany showcase through the press releases and/or disseminated materials, approached us requesting that we replicate the Maremma event also in their territory. There is a lot of interest in this type of activity, but future applications of the showcase developed in the course of the CreativeCH project are strongly dependent on the availability of funding provided by the local administrations.

Listed below are a few of these extra activities, initially unforeseen in the CreativeCH project, but deriving from the network of contacts set up in the development of the Tuscany showcase:

Two new applications of the TourBook series (for smartphones and tablets, iOS and Android versions, currently available in Italian and English) have been commissioned by the Province of Prato in conjunction with CAI – Club Alpino Italiano, and the Superintendence of Archaeology for Toscana:

PratoTrek tb, currently available only in Italian, contains the entire network of hiking and horseback trails of the province of Prato. An immediate and intuitive interface enables the user to select the most appropriate itinerary according to his/her specific needs and preferences, allowing choices based on the information collected in specific dedicated sections: attractions along the way, length, duration. A detailed interactive map, also available offline, guides the hiker step by step, detecting his/her position along the chosen itinerary and indicating the points of interest in the vicinity (for example springs and sources, panoramic viewpoints, waterfalls). Each path is provided with an elevation profile, which shows at a glance the development of the terrain. In case of emergencies, and in the presence of sufficient telephone coverage, it is possible to activate the function that will put the hiker in direct contact with the local chapter of the Soccorso Alpino CAI (Alpine Rescue Service, operated by the Italian Alpine Club), allowing him/her to communicate their position.

This application is the result of a collaboration between VAST-LAB of PIN – Polo Universitario di Prato, which boasts a well-established experience in the IT development of similar products, the Club Alpino Italiano – Sezione “Emilio Bertini” of Prato that physically traced the itineraries and periodically maintains the signage, and the Province of Prato: a team of experts with profound knowledge of the territory in the Province, collaborating to guarantee the high quality of the data and the reliability of the application. 

Da Piazza a Piazza is an additional itinerary included in PratoTrek tb, developed for the annual 2-day walking race in the territory surrounding Prato, held since 1984. The historical itinerary, with roots dating back to the 1300s, starts in Piazza della Pietà and winds its way along a 75 km route to Piazza del Comune without ever crossing the River Bisenzio. This extension was also commissioned by the Department of the Environment of the Province of Prato and the local chapter of CAI. PratoTrek tb, including the Da Piazza a Piazza extension, has been downloaded around 1500 times since its launch on the iTunes store and from Google Play.

- Gonfienti tb was commissioned by the Soprintendenza dei Beni Archaeologici della Toscana and is in its final phases of development. An Etruscan village was discovered during the excavations for the creation of the Prato Interport near Gonfienti, a little village in the suburbs of Prato. This app will encourage visits to the site and to a future museum. Artefacts found here are being replicated with state-of-the-art 3D technologies and the resulting virtual images will be included in the app. 


ABC3D is a sort of project within the project, developed to engage school-age persons in several of the fundamental objectives of CreativeCH. A first workshop was held at the beginning of May 2014 at the YouLab in Pistoia, located within the Biblioteca San Giorgio, the local public library. “YouLab Pistoia – An American Corner” is a digital innovation center endowed with the latest audio-video and IT tools (3D laser scanners and printers) donated by the American Embassy, which young patrons are allowed to use to develop digital products, all free of charge. During the two-day workshop, students were taught the basics of 3D scanning and printing, and were later taken on a tour of the town center with a guide. The pictures taken during the outing and manipulated by the students with the tools available in YouLab, will be entered in a contest, the final prize being the creation of an application (BiblioPT is the provisional title), which will follow an itinerary created in collaboration with the tour guide and based on the winning entries. It will be a more “simple” version of the applications in the TourBook series, as it will include the materials (virtual 3D models and photographs) provided by the students and created during the ABC3D workshops.


A lot of enthusiasm was shown for this workshop. The director of the Biblioteca San Giorgio is very eager to continue collaboration with VAST-LAB’s 3D experts during the summer months, so ABC3D will be repeated twice in July in order to attract a larger number of participants. 




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