Archive for category Como
Architecture has to be lived in!
That’s what some architects who helped enriching the contents of the app Rationalism in the Province of Como told me.
You have to be in front of, or inside, rationalist buildings to appreciate spaces, volumes, colors, and notice the numerous details: from staircases to furniture.
And that’s what I actually did, first with inspections during the contents production phase, and then again these days to test the geolocation and geofencing features added in version 1.61, today available on the App Store.
To test it, I walked and rode on my Vespa around the town of Como, a real “open-air museum” of rationalist architecture.
Geolocation allows to track your position on the offline maps, while geofencing (a sort of virtual geographic fence) allows to get a notification when you’re 80-100 meters from a point of interest, even when the app is in background.
When the app is in background, a “hollow” arrow icon in the status bar indicates that geofencing is active.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t waste battery: Apple engineers optimized this feature at best.
Also, with iOS 7 geolocation works very well even with devices without an integrated GPS receiver.
A database of Wi-Fi access points is actually used to determine the location of your device.
The new version was demonstrated on the field during an interview by QuiComo, the daily online news website of Como.
Previously, I had the chance to talk about the project during the daily feature of Espansione TV, Angoli (corners): a pretty appropriate name to talk about rationalist buildings, the Novocomum in particular, the first of its kind built in Como and designed by the architect Giuseppe Terragni.
This video has english and italian captions: you can activate them by clicking on the icon in the lower right of the video frame.
Hotel managers and professionals often debate about initiatives aimed at de-seasoning the tourist flow in the town and on Lake Como, currently mainly focused during the “nice” season.
So, now being able to visit the open-air museum of Rationalism in Como with an app describing the buildings, with no entrance ticket, is actually a good chance to do it in any season, don’t you think?
Since today, the app Rationalism in the Province of Como speaks german!
Subtitles in german for the english and italian audio have also been added.
This is an exclusive feature of the app, useful if you want to improve your proficiency in a language.
Personally, over the years I improved my english a lot by watching movies or by playing narrative videogames with original audio and subtitles in italian or english.
In the app, the translation of the subtitles isn’t literal, since we obviously gave priority to a fluid text for each of the three languages, but following them on the screen is pretty easy since they’re in sync with the audio track.
It will be useful to whoever will use the app from the comfort of their home couch, which means the vast majority of the users that will download it.
But why version 1.6, instead of 1.1?
It’s a curiosity you probably noticed if you have an eye for detail, maybe by viewing the slide of the presentation in which the next steps of the project are listed.
The version number will follow the golden ratio, phi, which is 1.618…
It’s a special number, knowned since ancient times.
In mathematics it’s the irrational number to which the ratio between two consecutive numbers of the Fibonacci series leads to, while in nature it’s present in a number of ratios, such as for example the ratio between the spires of a shell.
In arts, as well as in architecture, it always represented ideal proportions, the “beauty” in general.
Even in the app you can find it in different forms, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, but never needlessly.
For example in the design of icons, in the spacing between elements of the user interface, or even in the lenght of the audio pause between a section and the next.
If something sounds good or looks nice and in harmony with what surrounds it, it’s thanks to phi, as rationalist architects also knew very well.
Regardless of subtitles or the version number, you’ll get the best experience when in front of, or inside, the rationalist building described.
So, I invite you to do it when you’ll get the chance: you’ll be welcome in Como, Cernobbio or in the Tremezzo area!
Visiting both the town of Como and the places in the Tremezzo area takes some days of stay: could this be a good incentive for the slow tourism, opposed to the hit and run phenomenon?
The app Rationalism in the Province of Como is today available on the App Store.
It’s the result of months of work, together with numerous collaborators, promoted and coordinated by the Culture Department of the Province of Como, the public authority administering the west branch of Lake Como.
It’s a multimedia tour about rationalist architecture in the Lake Como area, from Como to Cernobbio and Tremezzo.
The points of interests include the most renowned buildings designed by the architects Giuseppe Terragni, Cesare Cattaneo and Pietro Lingeri.
Is this yet another info-guide app? Or yet another audio-guide app?
Not at all!
The design concept is probably the most interesting aspect for fellow developers: I wanted to make an app that could be an “holistic” combination between these two different app types, info-guides and audio-guides.
A combination in which the end result were higher than the algebraic sum of the single parts.
Let’s start from the audio, the real core of the app.
After we completed the script, written in a simple and easy to understand language, I hired three professional storytellers who managed to literally “give life” to the contents with their voices.
Luca Grandelis is the italian storyteller, while Garth Kennedy took care of the english language.
Luca is a well-known voice-talent, while Garth is also an artist, an abstract mechanical sculptor.
German language will be soon added in the next update, thanks to the voice-talent from Berlin Birgit Röhricht.
Then there’s the interface, designed keeping in mind the keywords of iOS 7: clarity and transparency.
Experts of mobile technologies applied to education love to repeat the mantra “content is king“.
Well, I agree, but if “content is king“, let me add “software is queen“.
Quality contents are often negatively affected by mediocre software that should manage and present it to the user.
The work made in this direction will have its judge in users’ comments: if they’ll concentrate on the contents, it will mean that the software is actually “transparent” and the result optimal.
The app will be officially presented on sunday 29 september, at the Antiquarium of Ossuccio, in the Tremezzo area of Lake Como, and it will be one of the many events organized for the European Heritage Days 2013.
It will be the chance to shake hands with the people who collaborated on the project.
Although there isn’t a single pixel, word or line of code that didn’t pass under my eyes – and this includes the responsibility for eventual bugs -, this work wouldn’t have been possible without them.
So, the combination between mobile technologies and cultural heritage could really work?
I believe so, and I think it’s the only way out of the tunnel of the economic and social crisis the Belpaese has fallen into for too many years…
Also, the educational effects of this app can be measured in the medium term.
Many communication experts agree on the fact the we tend to overestimate initiatives like this one in the short term, due to their “novelty” character, while we underestimate the impact in the medium and long term.
A litmus test could be this: let’s count how many people of Como (but not only them!) think today that the Camerlata fountain was inspired by Volta’s battery.
Then let’s count them in a 5 years’ time… and maybe a good chunk of them, thanks to the app, will remember that it’s actually a sort of futuristic monument to the traffic!
The news doesn’t end here, as I’ll reveal during the presentation.
Meanwhile, have a nice listening and vision of the app Rationalism in the Province of Como!
Three “miracles” have happened this summer in Como, as Piercesare Bordoli, president of the Famiglia Comasca association, said:
the reopening (although temporary) of a section of the lakefront walkway, after a long closure due to works for anti-flooding bulkheads, the restoration of the historic steamer Patria, and the redevelopment of the arena of the Teatro Sociale, the area on the back side of the theater previously used as a parking.
Small steps in the direction of a town that really cares about tourists and its citizens?
Maybe… in my small way – and with due proportions, since the three “miracles” involved a number of public and private institutions, and millions of Euros – I hope the latest update of the app dedicated to the gardens of Lake Como will be another step in the same direction.
A nice and updated app about the garden-villas of Lake Como, can be another good welcome card to encourage tourists spending pleasant days in this magic land.
It’s a mostly technical update.
The app now includes hi-res graphics for the Retina display of 3rd and 4th generation iPads, supports the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5, and also supports the landscape orientation.
Even the sharing of your favorite gardens via Facebook e Twitter has been improved, using the native APIs introduced in iOS 5 and 6.
The app is faster and more responsive, the scrolling animations more pleasant, and the overall look slightly improved.
Apple enthusiasts know very well that iOS 7 will be released shortly, and the app is already compliant with it from a design point of view, thanks to a “flat” user interface style and consistent colors.
Curious about the update?
Download the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch from the App Store!
The second update of the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch is on the AppStore.
It’s a big update, since the app is now in universal binary format, which means optimized both for iPhone and iPad, and the interface graphics, the offline map and the photos are in high resolution, up to four times better compared to the previous version.
Owners of iPad and Retina display devices such as iPhone 4, 4S and iPod Touch 4th generation will be able to enjoy the new graphics at its best.
Among the new features there’s also the ability to add a gardens to your favorites and share it by email, Facebook or Twitter.
I also added new photos taken from the boat, thanks to Marco Leoni, and from the seaplane, thanks to Cesare Baj, President of Aero Club Como.
The new graphics made the size of the app grow up to about 40mb, but fortunately Apple recently raised the download limit under 3G network from 20mb to 50mb.
There’s no such limit when under Wi-Fi.
Since the “likes” on the Facebook page dedicated to the app are still a few compared to the number of downloads, I added a link on the main screen of the app. In this way the Facebook page, where I post themed news and updates, is easier to reach.
The touristic season on Lake Como is now open: download the app and visit the gardens!
I have an interest in storytelling applied to mobile devices since some years, from 2005, when I started working on audio-video guide systems for museums and exhibitions.
So, I’m pleased to inform you about the business storytelling course organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Como and curated by Francesca Marchegiano, an expert of the matter and also author of theatrical and narrative shows for children.
Storytelling skills are very useful in different business contexts: for example, being able to tell your mission in a clear and catchy way on your company’s website, is nowadays a sign of professionalism and great care about communication for potential customers.
After all, the famous Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address wouldn’t have been the same if he didn’t start with: “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”
The course will be held at Mulini di Baggero, in Merone, in the province of Como, an area recovered from a completely restored 1722 mill.
Participation is free, but limited to the first 25 requests until march 12, so hurry up if you’re interested.
Good luck to Francesca for the course!
The first update of the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch is available on the AppStore.
The update fixes a bug found on older iOS devices when exiting the online map, if they were low on memory .
Another bug, caused by the rush to be ready for the BIT fair, was about the presentation of the same text when a garden was selected from the offline map.
Thanks to my friend and mentor Alessandro for reporting it.
I’ve also updated some photos, such as the Villa del Balbianello ones, taken by Diego Cottino, a magic place where some scenes of Star Wars: Episode II were shot.
This spring I’ll visit some gardens included in the guide, both for personal curiosity and to take new photos that will be added to the app.
Photos you’ll better appreciate in the next version of the app, where graphics will be optimized for iPad and Retina display devices such as the iPhone 4.
It’s one of the advantages of digital technologies: an app can be quickly updated, a paper guide not at all.
The initiative is appreciated and the downloads go up. Personally I think it’s reassuring seeing that, although the bad economic crisis, there still are companies and public institutions ready to support innovative projects such as this.
See you to the next update!
What’s the first word that comes to your mind when thinking about visiting a park or botanic garden?
For me it’s relax!
I don’t have any “green thumb” knowledge, so I couldn’t distinguish among different species of plants and flowers.
But the multitude of colors, the harmony between nature and the gardener’s work (I’d say art), are things you can appreciate even if you aren’t a botanical expert.
And you can appreciate them even more when there’s a unique panorama on the background, such as the one of Lake Como.
It’s a personal opinion confirmed by data, indicating a constant growth of the so-called Horticultural tourism, from abroad to Italy.
For these reasons I was pleased to work on the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch, the digital edition of the paper guide made last year by the Chamber of Commerce of Como and the Province of Como, with contents by Great Italian Gardens.
This work gave me the chance to discover some gardens and parks I didn’t know and I haven’t visited yet.
For example The Garden of the Valley, hidden pearl of the nearby Cernobbio, maintained with passion by Mrs. Pupa Frati.
While designing the app interface I followed the essential style and the colors of the new logo made for the brand “Lago di Como”, presented at BIT in 2011, the international tourism fair held annually in Milan.
During this year’s edition of the fair, at the Regione Lombardia/Province of Como stand, there was a preview of the app about the gardens, more user friendly and updated than the paper guide, at least for those with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
I hope the app will be useful to discover the gardens of the area around Como, reaching more tourists, both from Italy and from abroad, than any paper guide could.
It’s free. Download it and, if you like it, please spread the word about it!
Rather than a lifting, I had to do a plastic surgery operation to the blog!
It’s a metaphor to say that I had to work a lot to fix it: I rebuilt the whole database since I couldn’t access to the WordPress control panel any more, I suspect due to a non up-to-date installation or a buggy plugin.
So I checked and fixed all the 219 posts I wrote until now, both in italian and english, fixing broken links in the process.
Reading all the posts recalled me why I’m blogging: to collect memories and experiences I lived in first person and share them, hoping they can be useful to others.
Among the “dearest” posts, for example, there’s the one I wrote for the loss of my cat Willy.
Or the one with the videos of my first interview on TV… ehi, how long ago? I looked like a boy!
Or event the one I wrote when I came back from the Vespatour… well, each post has a meaning, a little story to tell.
We’re living in times where looks are everything, even too much, so I tried to choose a simple but attractive theme, customizing Fusion by digitalnature.
Useful are the two accessibility functions on the top right of the page: clicking on Aa you can chance to font size, while <> changes the page width.
I couldn’t do without a plugin to manage sharing options on main social networks, and I choose the one made by LinksKu.
I hope you appreciate the new look, but that contents are the motivation for you to come back.
I can say it out loud after a week spent at Campo Globo as volunteer of the civil protection and member of ANA of Como.
Campo Globo was one of the 170 tent camps built for the earthquake emergency in Abruzzo and took its name from the nearby store in the Coppito zone.
Once there, I worked at the camp office, the place where the Alpini managed the camp and thus where I was able to see different aspects of the situation.
Together with three volunteers of La Spezia’s ANA, Enrico, Attilio and camp-chief Alberto, we worked all day long from august 29th to september 5th, trying to respond to all the requests coming from the 930 residents, other than from Italian Navy and Army officers who excellently managed the two kitchens of the camp.
The human side of the experience has been the most important one: talking to people from L’Aquila and listening to their unfortunate stories and wishes to start over gave a precise meaning to the feeling of solidarity that made me leave for Abruzzo.
However, being able to see the ruins of the city center left a sense of sadness deep inside me. It wasn’t like watching them in photos or on TV at all: it will really take a lot of time for the reconstruction…
The photos I posted were mostly shot at the camp, since you can find those with the ruins pretty anywhere and they do not really deliver the actual dimension of the destruction of the buildings.
My best wishes to all the people I met during that week: the Scuola del Genio and San Marco officers, the great Alpini, and the camp residents with a soul stronger than any earthquake!
As San Marco officers wrote on the sail in the picture: The lion wants it, L’Aquila in his heart.