Volcanic Illumination: The Solfatara



Much like the bubbling mud and geysers of Yellowstone National Park, the Solfatara, located outside of Naples, Italy, in the region known as the Phlegrean Fields, is constantly active with natural volcano activities.

It was in this region of 4000-year-old volcanoes that Ulysses entered the underworld, as did the characters of Dante. It was also here that Michael-Bruno was presented one of its most engineering challenges to day: illuminate the ever-steaming, 160 degree celsius volcanoes of the Solfatara.

The natural heat and atmospheric conditions of this environment cause corrosion and melting of traditional construction materials adding to the technical obstacles. Engineering studies and experimentation lasted one year. Michael-Bruno’s research led to sustainable and technologically innovative solutions in partnership with Targetti, Italy’s leading producer of outdoor lighting systems.
The objective of the research, design, and installation was to make the Solfatara accessible by night, while creating a “magical light show” to enrich the volcanic experience. Utilizing an unconventional electrical distribution system and custom made materials to support the environmental conditions we were able to harness the “power of light and nature.”
Our choice of lighting fixtures included white and RGB (Red, Green, Blue) led projectors with high technical performance, capable of cutting maintenance costs and disappearing from sight as much as possible.
Today visitors take night tours across the pedestrian paths accompanied with games of light and color projections. The white light led evokes images of the moon along the paths and accentuate the bubbling clay of the "mud pit.” The play of RGB is in contrast to the backlight of the ridge of rock and it enhances the sulfuric vapors from hot springs and the colors of the rocks.
The new “Illuminated Solfatara” hosts approximately four hundred night visitors each month during the winter season, and double that figure during the summer months.