Category Archives: Compositions

“Between a Rock and a hard Phase”: our first week with Participatory Lithology (Mar. 21-27)

We might not be starting a weekly reporting of this initiative, but we want to make sure we can remember the first seven days.

We had the possibility of experiencing a series of events which proved to be interesting, curious, and at times genuinely entertaining. All this in the midst of an extremely severe situation, which we do not ignore. On one side, we could say we are “Between a rock and a hard place“, but the feeling we had starting participatory lithology was like being “Between a rock and a hard phase” [1].

As an opening act…a new title track, performed by Matti delle Giuncaie’s Francesco Ceri, with lyrics by the Metalliferous Hills Jug Band (a translation of the lyrics is provided here):

With this, we might say we e more or less explained all about our project, but please read on…

Project presentations

We were invited to give presentations of the project by two radio shows. One was on March 24 for Caterpillar, RAI Radio 2. This is one of the main radio shows in Italy and we were proud of having this as our first public sortie. The second one was for Radio Popolare Milano, which has more of a local FM coverage (some 100 km around Milan, plus web streaming). Since 2007 they have covered many of the projects we launched, and allowed a lot of air time to detail what we are doing and give more context and interconnections with our other projects. Based on feedback we received from several people, this interview was a sort of “eye opener” on a lot of aspects of the network’s operations.

Finally, Il Tirreno, one of the two main newspapers in Tuscany, published on March 27 a very long article about “Stone Collectors meeting on the Web“.

If you don’t speak Italian, you may still check the links above since they include additional links to English versions of various topics presented.

If you like to follow the project step by step, you can look for the PELP tag on (PELP stand for Piccolo Esercizio di Litologia Partecipativa ….our little participatory lithology exercise). Click here:

Some facts about the project…but please remember that this is not a competition (while not being a game)

Collectors: 4 as of March 21. 6 as of March 27. Overall we have received photos of 182 samples from Tatti (our home base), Vallerotana, close to Grosseto, Southern Tuscany, and Florence.

Some of the samples photographed this week, under Mauro Tirannosauro’s supervision.

Classifiers: four as of March 21, seven as of March 27. Active classifiers four (from Turin, Rome, Busto Arsizio, Pavia)…with 57 comments [4].

Entertainers: Eight in the creation of the “lithoplaylist” (songs mentioning rocks, minerals, or stones). Two on performances (plus one in the process of finalizing a third song)….stay -literally- tuned for updates

Sponsor: As of March 21, two. Three as of March 27.

What next?

In our second week we will continue along all four lines of activity (1) looking for more “forgotten rock collections”, (2) identifying samples thanks to our chartered classifiers, (3) proposing “lithomusic” à go go, and (4) the research of more sponsors to improve the rewards for the most active participants, and to cover at least part of our operational efforts on the project.

To have a part in this project or for information on how to support it, please write to or contact + 393317539228 (if you don’t get an answer this may be because mobile coverage in Tatti is a bit shaky…so please send an SMS or a Whatsapp message).


We got to this point as a result of brainstorming and coordination of energies with (in alphabetical order by first name): Alberico Mattei, Amos Unfer, Carolina Cortesi, Cristian Carlone, Francesco Ceri, Guido Bendinelli, Jack O’Malley, Liliana Cafiero, Loriano Bartoli, Martina Busonero, Mauro Tirannosauro, Valeria Trumpy, Wolfgang Scheibe, and other folks you will learn about as their activities unfold.


  • [1] Italians don’t say literally “Between a rock and a hard place”…an equivalent expression is “Tra l’incudine e il martello” (i.e. between an anvil and a hammer)…but a lot of people know the Stones so we are using “Between a rock and a hard phase” also in our Italian articles.

Header image: Tatti and the land to the South (Mount Argentation is at the centre of the horizon).

Mauro Tirannosauro reading an article on salamanders on Il Tirreno

Mauro Tirannosauro, une of the folks from the core team of the Participatory Lithology project is concentrated reading an article concerning some potential relations of his. This is after he went through word by word on the article on the left, which actually talks about him and his colleagues.. .you can find the full article, in Italian on this page (Il Tirreno, Grosseto Edition, March 27, 2020).

…and all with a good glass of wine and a fancy soundtrack at the end of a long day classifying stones.

Mauro wants to join Participatory Lithology

Somehow the first announcement of the participatory lithology reached “Mauro il tirannosauro” (Mauro the T. Rex). He was born in New York city, but he relocated to Italy in 1999. First he was in Sardinia, then in Milan. Since 2011 he has been living in Tatti, Southern Tuscany…my same place, but we don’t get to meet that often.

Anyway: Mauro proposed himself as mascot for the Participatory Lithology project, sending a portfolio which leaves no doubts on his performing potential:

Mauro contemplating part of “collection A”
A close up of Mauro in his garden with one of the samples. Mauro: the part is yours!

We will get to see Mauro soon in action.

To be part of our “little participatory lithology exercise”, as collectors, classifiers, entertainers, or sponsors, please visit the project web page to check what this is about, and then write to

Brano raccomandato: Bring it on dei T. Rex

TattiStampa: hand-made prints with “Ape” from Southern Tuscany

Wolfgang Scheibe is a multi-faceted character (graphic designer, biodynamic advisor, and musician) who relocated over ten years ago from Germany to Maremma, Southern Tuscany.

In the move from Baden-Württemberg to the Tuscan hills, among other peculiarities of these places he made contact with one of the icons of Italian rural settings: the Ape Piaggio. This is a traditional three-wheeler mini truck (or maxi-scooter). This became the primary subject of his prints, as well as the main vehicle in his whereabouts from a biodynamic crop, to a live performance, and other forms of relationship to the Tuscan territory.

Wolfgang Scheibe at work in his TattiStampa print shop.

At the time of writing Wolf has in his track recor over seventy different subjects which he sends in virtual trips with his printed “Ape”, and can also design new subjects on demand in his print shop.

Having recently received unexpected attention for these works from over the pond, he decided to launch a web page to give a bit more visibility to his hand-made pieces.

To learn more you may visit (in English) or (in Italian)

Different ways of calling a creek in Tuscany

Analysing the Regione hydrography databases, we note 59 different types (river, creek, stream etc.). There is an interesting pattern showing in relation to fosso (creek), for which different names are used south of Pisa (botro, in green) and in the Florence/Siena area (borro, in red) . For more details:

A mid-year report for (and the Jug Band Colline Metallifere) and some hints for the rest of 2019

With the network, since 2009 we have been preparing annual reports, which are normally published by January, covering the previous year.
We then issue periodic updates (as a minimum monthly, often weekly for our Italian audience). These include news, reports on events, and other ideas.
Exceptionally we need a mid-year status report. This happened in 2011, and 2019 looks definitely like another year where this can help. We also included some outlook through the rest of 2019.

The report comes in two pages, and you may download it from this link.

Lesser known parts of Tuscany, where the network is based. Kind of. For international bearings: some 100 km South of Florence, or 200 North of Rome.

For those interested in previous episodes of the story, here you find our 2018 summary.. and the and sites have the full picture.

Inquiries and booking:

The Fourth Light Pollution Theory, Modelling, and Measurements Conference, Zselic (Hungary, June 25-28, 2019), and its workshop

Between June 27 and July 1, 2019, I had the opportunity of attending with the BuioMetria Partecipativa project a part of the fourth “Light Pollution Theory, Modelling, and Measurements” and a workshop connected to the conference. Here you will find a brief summary of the event and the experimental activities related to it, and some highlights (or should I say “high lights”) from the trip from Toscana to Hungary.

Also, please note your next opportunities to interact with BuioMetria Partecipativa and interdisciplinary night promotion and protection: July 16 in Milano, for an outreach event with Wim Schmidt, one of the main Dutch experts on this topic, and from July 25 to 29 in Southern Tuscany, with a visit by prof. Zoltán Kolláth, the mastermind of all the Hungarian events portrayed below, as well as a great progressive rock fan.

A satellite image of Italy at night (from the VIIRS sensor for June 29, 2019)

Now, back to the LPTMM conference (from June 25 to June 28). This is a bi-annual meeting attracting the main world experts in the field. After the main event, an experimental workshop was scheduled, inviting researchers to conduct night sky quality measurements with different techniques, spanning from the dear, old, Sky Quality Meter (which we called buiometro in Italy), to a plethora of imaging systems complemented by rather sophisticated processing workflows.

Such developments in sensing techniques also reflect the maturity on the light pollution monitoring topic. In the Nineties the focus of the experts was in the mitigation of light pollution effects in relation to night sky observation, as a priority mainly deriving from astronomers in order to reduce the amount of light improperly directed upwards. In the following years, with a greater awareness of the negative effects of the blue component of night lights, and its impact on ecology and landscape, measurement systems have evolved in order to detect such information. Essentially state-of-the-art technology requires the acquisition of “all sky” images, allowing to assess the source direction of lights, as well as spectral data. Combining such information, and integrating it with remote sensing data, as well as drone-derived information, extremely detailed scenarios can be assessed, thus supporting policies and management strategies for lighting systems.

The conference was in the Zselic dark sky park, in the South-West of Hungary. This is one of the three dark-sky areas certified by the International Dark Sky Association, and catered like babies by Zoltán Kolláth: in addition to managing the certification process, in the years the professor has fostered a series of lighting renovation projects in the villages around the “night sky reserves”, developed a structured research, and promotion activities on night sky-related issues.

The participants to the 2019 LPTMM conference in Zselic, with folks from (going East from Hungary): China, Canada, USA, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Poland.

A photo report of the “buiometric” mission and the LPTMM workshop (June 28/July 1 2019)

Lights on in full daytime in Pisa
Lamps with different colour temperatures in Udine (different colour temperature in lamps is not a priori a problem, but it can be well noted here and makes us consider the colour temperature of light as an issue more people should account for)
Lights on in full daytime in Budapest Kelenföld. Possibly these are managed with the same system as Pisa (and other sites we are documenting)
Villages in rural Hungary, approaching the Zselic area.
Hungarian is intriguing for me. Some words are similar to the dialect from Sassari, in Sardinia, and it is impossible to memorize more than one word per day.
The opening of the workshop. “Captain” Kollath, explains to the team the strategy they will be adopting in the three nights to follow.
The main observation point for the workshop. To the South, the Zselic forest.
This is an example of the night sky from the same point, with a night sky brightness around 21.7 magnitudine per arc square second (apart from the Milky Way, please note the number of stars).
A part of the tripods used for the instrumentation. On the background some of the nightscapes visible from Zselic
Hand-made light poles at the entrance of the visitor centre hosting the workshop
Zoltan setting up his spectrometer
The installation of another sensor (an SQM with various colour filters)
One of the spectral readings during the night (with astronomincal twilight not yet over, so that solar radiation is still visible on the left part of the spectrum)
Zoltán Kolláth and Andreas Haenel comparing all-sky images acquired with different sensors (visible vs. infrared). This helps to discriminate LED light sources from lighting of other type.
Kudos to Kai Pong Tong. In 2015 he was part of the team for the night sky quality measurement campaign in Torniella, Tuscany, and eventually he used a picture of the village’s bell tower as a cover for this PhD dissertation.

We thank the conference organizers for their hospitality, and grant EFOP- 3.6.2-16- 2017-00014, “Development of international research environment for light pollution studies” for support to this mission. For more information: Newsletter on Culture, Environment, Open Innovation, and Music (June 24, 2019)

In the header, a map showing the breakdown of different types of energy sources back in 1972. The original article (from the Panorama magazine, Nov. 1973) is part of the stuff-o-theque.

Apart from this, things are spinning quite fast, so I leave you with a reminder of events for the first part of the Summer, on the notes of a crazy live version of Crazy in Love.


25 – Follonica (GR) – talk by pibinko at the Meet Music national workshop (the workshop is also on June 26 and 27)

27-30 – Zselic, Hungary. BuioMetria Partecipativa at the Light Pollution Theory, Modelling, and Measurements conference.


13 Punta Ala (Tuscany), Jug Band dalle Colline Metallifere live @ Bar Polo

16 – Milano – Outreach on Light Pollution with Wim Schmidt (NL) and BuioMetria Partecipativa

20-21 Tirli, Palla eh! Tournament

24-30 BuioMetria Summer Campaign, guest starring Zoltan Kollath

27-28, Scalvaia, Palla a 21 Tournament