The Scuola Normale Superiore and the Comune of Follonica (the administrative centre of Follonica) signed the agreement for a didactic and scientific project in collaboration with Regione Toscana, Tuscany’s administrative body. The former “Fonderia n.1” (Foundry 1), whose adaptive restoration in 2015 transformed it into a big fair and exhibition centre, will also host a multimedia centre for research on the agri-food system and on cultural heritage.

The five-year agreement will be presented in detail on 23 September by Vincenzo Barone, Director of the Scuola Normale, Andrea Benini, Mayor of Follonica, and Enrico Rossi, President of Regione Toscana. After the summer break, students and researchers will have at their disposal multimedia stations and augmented reality technologies, already in use at the Smart lab for increasing knowledge in the sciences and humanities. The collaboration between the Scuola Normale and the Comune of Follonica is destined to grow in the next years, thanks to the organisation of educational programmes such as pre-university orientation courses, refresher courses for teachers, scientific divulgation activities and a pre- and post-doctoral Summer School.

“We wish to serve our territory – says Prof. Vincenzo Barone, Director of the Scuola Normale – and to share our expertise with businesses and the social fabric of the area. The Scuola Normale is not some self-enclosed entity, as it is too often perceived, but is a research institution increasingly interacting with its surrounding systems; the collaboration with the Comune of Follonica is a tangible proof of this. Besides, we are more and more interested in the blue economy and in the promotion of our cultural heritage; for this reason, I believe that having a detached centre in a Tuscan coastal area so rich in high-quality food products, natural parks, and evocative archaeological sites, will be a great opportunity for us to develop new projects and collaborations”.
The structure of “Fonderia n.1” was part of the former ILVA brownfield site of Follonica. The building was completely restored in recent years, and destined for the promotion of arts and scientific knowledge. “We are very proud to sign such a prestigious collaboration,” says Andrea Benini, Mayor of Follonica. “The high quality of the restoration project of ‘Fonderia n.1’ dictated an ambitious and demanding line of conduct in the search of international projects to host in its space. We aimed to turn it into a place for opportunities, research, and innovation: in short, into a true creative engine for the development of an area extending beyond its local borders towards the north of the province and the Gulf, and willing to be a point of reference for all Tuscany. The collaboration with the Scuola Normale Superiore allowed us to reach our objective, providing us with the means to strengthen our potential and our assets, such as the sea, our agri-food products, and our cultural heritage, which will now be the focus of new study and research programmes, promoting economic, touristic, and occupational development”.
Barone concludes: “The idea of organising in Follonica, within the scenery of Maremma, didactical activities such as pre-university orientation programmes aimed at students of the whole country, refresher courses for teachers, or pre- and post-doctoral Summer Schools, is perfectly in line with the tradition in vogue at Scuola Normale of promoting Tuscan landscape gems, as we have been successfully doing for years in Cortona”.