I’m getting really excited for Saturday July 11 2009. The air in Florence, other than being hot and humid, is palpably rife with CHANGE.


Giuliano da Empoli, the culture “minister” (assessore) of Renzi’s new government , has launched a BarCamp that will take place at Palazzo Vecchio this Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Florence shelters a lot of talented people willing to freely contribute ideas to better their city, and who are happy to finally be given an opportunity to voice their opinions (OK, I speak for myself here). This is an exciting institutional response that takes advantage of technology, crowdsourcing, and social networking. If they actually listen to what we have to say, it’ll be a huge success. This is also a refreshing contrast to the national top-down approach to tourism exemplifed by the tragic “magic italy” story.

What the heck’s a Bar Camp?? Nope, not summer camp where kids can learn to make martinis. It’s a user-generated conference that grows on the internet. The topic of discussion: contemporary florence and ways to re-value its cultural patrimony. Vague enough to inspire many interesting discussions.


The location: the salone dei Cinquecento inside our city hall – a symbolic location of decision-making by citizens. The room was constructed in 1494 and was to be frescoed with Michelangelo and Leonardo’s battles of Cascina and Anghiari respectively. In the end it was enlarged and decorated by Vasari from 1555-72 with scenes that glorify the Medici family and Cosimo I in particular. In a move to modernize the building in 2009, there will be wifi available in the room during the conference ;-).

Can I play? YES! Anyone can sign up to participate by registering and posting via this wiki. In just a few days there are already over 140 people signed up. If you go, you join conversation groups that interest you, and you talk. If you wish to present a topic, you sign up for that on the wiki, and so you effectively lead a group conversation. There are many proposed talks on aspects of tourism and culture. I am going to talk about sustainable tourism – in Italian! It’s my first attempt at public speaking in Italian. Wish me luck.

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