One of the biggest challenges for Europe is to build up the existing infrastructure. With a communication based on a Roman roads, built 400 BC, and a sewer system constructed on top of ancient networks, Europe has to modernise what’s already there. Unlike modern cities of Asia, where everything was build with the latest technology, European towns have to use the tech to amplify their towns.
This has proven to be a quite challenging task for many regions. Lacking opportunities and inspiration, small towns now stand empty. Young people leave for big cities to find work and discover their talents, while whole villages turn into crumbling retirement homes.
Breaking that circle is difficult as making opportunities in a declining climate tends to be. This is why, when I heard about a ‘cultural farm’ in Favara, a small town in southern Sicily, me and my team packed our bags and went.
We spent almost three hours driving through the Sicilian mountains, intermitted by patches of brown soil with no life whatsoever. The few train stations we pasted would be better placed in history books than a transportation aid, which they might well have been, as the actual trains were nowhere to be seen.
So, arriving to the centre of Favara, where old buildings have been turned into installations and little squares display art from around the world, felt like falling onto my knees and drink water from an oasis. Buzzing with young people and modern art makes the authentic Sicilian table, chairs and washing lines, a part of a picture.
People who lived in the area, suddenly found themselves in a bizzarre post-modern cube. In the middle of all this, typical Italian machos, walk out to the terrace with a beer and a cigarette, looking out for the new, cool moments to share with their urban-living kids.
Making this happen is not about using the tech and new ways of thinking. The Internet has allowed us to share information but, much like an unexpected but brilliant guest, we feel unsure about ways to make them feel at home. With tech arriving in our cities, homes and offices, we often forget that it’s there to solve problems and treat it with less respect than it deserves.