Pineta di Appiano Gentile e Tradate Park, situated in the piedmont area between the provinces of Como and Varese, covers an area of about 4,586 hectares.
Historically, the area is the result of continuous changes of both human and environmental origin.
The alternation of different settlements has left us several evidences scattered throughout the territory.
Nature, preserving secrets and tales, has always been witness to the human events throughout the centuries.
The protected area shows itself in its many-colored diversity, but to understand the historical events leading to this result we need help, we need an image to place between the beginning and the end of a thread describing the territory from a historical point of view.
The concrete evidences of the historical passages are what we call "vegetable architectures", that is the group of natural giants so big to the extent that they are considered in an architectural context: they are wise spectators of dozens and dozens manipulations by man. The Park is full of them, it is a great book telling the tales of great men in their magnificent villas we can still admire today.
"It is not enough to look, it is necessary to look with eyes that want to see": this famous sentence by Galileo Galilei perfectly reflects the spirit animating "FOAM13" Astronomical Observatory Foundation in Tradate; a real advanced technological jewel, a promotional and scientific research center known all over the world.
The Astronomical Observatory in Tradate, inaugurated in May 2007, consists of the three below-mentioned elements.
The Main Telescope has a 65cm diameter and a f/5 focal (3,250mm), the glass frame is in carbon fibre with "Closet Serrourier" structures (the same technology used for the Formula 1 chassis). The steel-fork frame has motorized and computerized movements on both axes to have an automatic aiming control directly from the PC. The dome, protecting the main telescope and providing a climatized area, has a diameter of 7.5 meters and its interior is beaded with 1,700 wooden ledges.
The Solar Tower, the one and only solar tower in our Region and the second one in Italy, consists of a siderostat conducting a beam of light to a refracting lens situated in a completely dark room. In this room, the beam of light is broken into various directions, observing our star, the Sun, in various wavelengths on two screens.
The Radio Telescopes are used to study the Sun, the biggest planet of the solar system Jupiter, the center of our galaxy, and the meteor showers. Moreover, the Center takes part in the SETI project (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intellingence) in association with "Medicina Radio Astronomical Station".
Near the Observatory there are an accommodation structure, a multimedia Conference Hall with 60 seats and computers, a giant-screen video projector, an audio system, and microphones.
FOAM13 has already started study, research, and collaboration projects at a national and international level with famous and historical Astronomical Research Institutes including Brera Astronomical Observatory, Arecibo Radio Telescope, the University of Geneva, the University of Indiana, the University of Helsinki, the Observatory of Mt. Palomar, and the Radio Telescopes in Bologna.
This surprising structure is open to the public, on Sundays or in the evenings when observation activities are organized. It is also open to visits and didactic projects for schools.
The progress of mankind includes solutions in which nature can help making up for the damages that it has suffered. The facility built in Pineta Park aims at exploiting this opportunity, offering the possibility to personally discover this reality through a unique experience carried out in one of the few constructed wetland facilities for wastewater treatment.
Water purification is a natural process taking place in wetlands, where, thanks to animal and vegetable organisms, a series of purification mechanisms take place through physical, chemical, and biological processes. The wastewater treatment facility in the town Pianbosco exploits this concept and mainly treats the urban sewage effluents coming from the eastern part of the town. Pineta Park and the Municipality of Venegono Inferiore, with the essential collaboration of Fondazione Cariplo, have dealt together with a serious problem of local pollution threatening the water resource.
The structure is formed by four basins planned in order to enable the spontaneous water flowing; the soil represents the vegetation support and plays a filtration role; the microfauna degrades the organic material transforming it into nourishing substances available for the vegetable species of the system. The vegetation, through the root apparatus, brings oxigen in depth, absorbs nourishing substances from the soil, and reduces the total quantity of the waters.
The didactic enhancement of the facilities gives the opportunity to enjoy the particular features of the structure: an outdoor didactic classroom, the accessibility to all basins and to the final drain, and a path giving an overview of the facilities are only some of the possibilities enabling the clever visit to the site.
The visit, led by qualified staff, is carried out on demand for school groups (thorugh related didactic projects) or during the events organized by the Park Authority.
Pio XI Archiepiscopal Seminary can be seen from a distance in all its imposing and austere symmetry. The planning of the structure, surrounded by a park covering 30 hectares and able to instil sensations of peacefulness, dates back to 1925 and was inaugurated ten years later. The will of the Apostolic Visitor Ildefonso Schuster was to "build the seminary on the model of a small tidy world, with the house of God in the middle of it". The northern wing of the "floor of the halls", in the former High School of the Seminary of Venegono, houses the Natural History Museum dedicated to the famous naturalist Antonio Stoppani: Ambrosian priest, teacher in the Seminary and afterwards in Pavia and Florence, he became the director of the Natural History Town Museum of Milan in 1883. The Museum in Venegono, created thanks to the generosity of the Diocese of Milan, is formed by a large exhibit hall with 98 display cases housing paleontological, zoological, mineral, and petrographic collections. However, this is not the only scientific resource of the seminary, which also houses two equipped didactic labs, a science and a physics lab, and a hall for interactive games.
"The contingent reason leading to the decision to carry out didactic activities for external school groups has been the closure of the minor Seminary (middle and secondary schools), to which the scientific equipment was originally dedicated to. We therefore decided to enhance the precious scientific heritage the Seminary could offer."
(don Elio Gentili, director of "A.Stoppani" Natural History Museum).
The passion and the experience of the priests who believed in this project and who have been supported by a few volunteers, has given the opportunity to continue with the activities over the years: physics experiments, naturalistic observations with the microscope or other equipment, scientific interactive games, guided researches in the Museum.
"Of course, the Museum does not also deal with the above-mentioned activities, but also with a non-stop updating of the material, determinations, cataloging, presentation, and conservation maintenance work. For this reason, the collaboration of volunteers is always welcome."