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cineturismo, location, cinema, turismo, film tourism, game, videogame, videogioco, The Town of Light, Volterra, manicomio
cineturismo, location, cinema, turismo, film tourism, game, videogame, videogioco, The Town of Light, Volterra, manicomio

The Town of Light: a voyage into memory

Recovering the memory of places, narrators of a story lost and forgotten yet still living, vibrant, tangible: this is the aim of The Town of Light, an adventure that aims to describe the living conditions of the inmates of mental asylums before the Legge Basaglia.

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The locations

Region: Toscana Type: Borgo storico Territory: collina

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Volterra and the former psychiatric hospital

With the main character, the player is immersed into a forgotten space, the kind of space that is recovered with difficulty. The setting in question is a former psychiatric hospital in Volterra, a complex of imposing monolithic buildings whose ruins are now lost amidst the vegetation that surrounds the city’s hospital.

An itinerary that aims to rediscover the value of the place must start up high, in the city centre: dating back to the Etruscans, the centre is dotted with reminiscences and evocative areas from medieval museums and workshops from ancient history. Then we go down the slope that leads to the hospital city, reaching buildings which today still conserve their original function next to others, just metres distant, which have fallen into disuse and are now closed with grates or gates. These are forbidden areas, accessible only on some guided tours.

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Chiesa dei Santi Giusto e Clemente - Volterra

A visit to the Museum

Waiting to greet the visitor is the small Museo Lombroso, set amidst the active areas of the hospital. A solid trace of a past that must not be forgotten. The Museum holds a large variety of objects and items that come directly from the areas and history of the asylum: from clothing to books, from medical instruments to keys and photos, from plaques on the walls to the small works of art created by the inmates, drawn on paper or scratched on the wall. Like that of Oreste Fernando Nannetti, in art NOF4, who unknowingly created masterpieces of Art Brut. These items whisper of a shared history, these objects resonate with stories that still need to be told.

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Roman Theatre - Volterra

A city in the city

And then onwards, up the road that leads to the asylum: passing by the closed gate that leads to the Charcot pavilion. Renée, the game's character, walks through this gate. We follow her as she follows herself and her past, walking on dry leaves or mud, finding herself in front of staircases and ruined doorways: the inner rooms are all abandoned, but still whisper their history. These spaces have a memory of their own: during our walk, we hear the echoes of the footsteps of those who have come before. Brisk or dragging, these footsteps crowded the halls of the asylum until 1980. We feel as if we are guests of someone who is no longer here. Near the Charcot Pavilion is the Ferri Pavilion, which is also covered by vegetation. We finally reach the place where memory meets oblivion and descend the road that snakes along to the cemetery. This does not appear to be an accessible path; it is certainly not navigable on foot: too long and too steep. And yet once it was travelled by funeral processions for the patients. We reach the tiny burial ground, cleaned up and restored today: the stones are silent. If the memory of those times slips away from us and is negated, we are required now, more than ever, to live it and make it ours.

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