Passions & Places


Hill Astronomical Observatory Station

Le Marche is a real box full of surprising discoveries. When no one would expect it, suddenly a small, restored hamlet appears between the mountain slopes and the hills.

Nothing strange, were it not for the fact that those houses on a nice square are part of an ambitious project of a single man. Supported by his creative family, this man chose this charming place to found a centre for geological research, and in parallel, a place to make in-depth analyses of culinary and visual arts.

Alessandro Montanari is a geologist born in Le Marche, who lived and studied at the Berkeley University (California). Then he enthusiastically welcomed and heeded the nostalgic call of his own land and got back in 1992. He chose an ancient hamlet, Coldigioco, which was situated close to Apiro, at the foot of the San Vicino Mount, to found and start-up a functional independent observatory to carry out scientific research.

Today, also thanks to the valuable collaboration of loyal friends and his family (his wife Paula Metallo is an artist), Alessandro Montanari made his dream come true. The Geological Observatory of Coldigioco (OGC) has been a recognised reality for some time now; many scholars and researchers visit it from all over the world.

The hamlet’s old school (which was used prophetically in the ‘60s by Masters Tamagnini to experiment and spread innovative teaching techniques), now hosts rooms equipped with computers, a library and geological laboratories. Other buildings host the equipped room to use the audiovisual materials and the large common kitchen, as well as accommodation for visitors. Palazzo Villani hosts summer courses called C.U.C.I.N.A. (Coldigioco Unit for Culinary Investigations in the Northern Apennines), as well as the laboratory for artistic glass decoration. 

The Coldigioco Hill Astronomical Observatory Station (C.H.A.O.S.) is located among dwellings; it uses a Mead LX200 telescope with computerized control systems. The telescope is used to study the morphology of moon’s craters, planets and other features. The centre also offers its vehicles and equipment to scholars, for the geological investigation on the ground, (such as chisels, mattocks, safety equipment, cameras, etc.) Investigation is then continued in laboratories, equipped with many specific tools.

Since 1992 OGC has hosted many interesting scientific programmes and theme conferences with important speakers. In addition, every two years Coldigioco hosts 24 students from the Carleton College (Northfield, MN, U.S.A.). For 10 weeks these students live in a wonderful place, always offering breathtaking sunsets, to carry out geological studies and learn to appreciate the excellent local cooking and the great Italian culture.


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