Travel to Isaura, where an underground lake shapes the city and its culture

As part of Energy Cities’ inspirational day in Modena, we invite you on a journey to the fictional city of Isaura to unplug your city from fossil fuels at the source.

On October 18th, travel from Modena to the fantastical city of Isaura, where the hidden secrets of an underground lake reveal how to disconnect your city from fossil fuels. 

Isaura, city of the thousand wells, is said to rise over a deep, subterranean lake. On all sides, wherever the inhabitants dig long vertical holes in the ground, they succeed in drawing up water, as far as the city extends, and no father. Its green border repeats the dark outline of the buried lake; an invisible landscape conditions the visible one; everything that moves in the sunlight is driven by the lapping wave enclosed beneath the rock’s calcareous sky. […] The city’s gods, according to some people, live in the depths, in the black lake that feeds the underground streams. According to others, the gods live in the buckets that rise, suspended from a cable, as they appear over the edge of the wells, in the revolving pulleys, in the windlasses of the norias, in the pump handles, in the blades of the windmills that draw the water up from the drillings, in the trestles that support the twisting probes, in the reservoirs perched on stilts over the roofs, in the slender arches of the aqueducts, in all the columns of water, the vertical pipes, the plungers, the drains, all the way up to the weathercocks that surmount the airy scaffoldings of Isaura, a city that moves entirely upward.

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

Fossil-free cities at Energy Cities’ Inspirational Day in Modena 

Isaura is one stop in the journey we’re taking you on for our Inspirational Day at the Annual Forum in Modena. You’ll have the chance to travel through a series of fictional cities representing each of Energy Cities’ hubs to explore the ideas, innovations, and visions they have to offer. 

Isaura, invisible city, Grafting Cities, Energy Cities Inspirational Day

Isaura will be where you can engage in concrete discussions on how to decarbonise our cities.

From the underground lake filled with pipes, drills, columns and drains of Isaura, locate the nuts and bolts to free your city from fossil fuel dependency. In Isaura, uncover the potential of the district level for your decarbonisation strategy, identify the levers that enabled other cities to switch from fossil gas to renewable sources, and take a bike tour through Modena to discover its building renovation process.  

Read more about each session here.

Journey through the invisible cities 

To discover the hidden potential of our cities, this year’s inspirational day will bring you on a journey through seven entirely fictional and enchanting cities drawn from Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”. Italo Calvino’s novel is a poetic and imaginative exploration of cities, real and unreal, as narrated by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. 

Besides Isaura, you’ll have the chance to travel to Ersilia, where relations hold a city together and become the centre point of your city’s governance; to Andria, where the city’s alignment with constellations will spark discussions on how locally-produced community energy can drive the transition; to Euphemia where you can rethink food policies by exchanging stories and dreams; and to Olinda, where cities grow within the city, showing you how to recover and revitalise your city’s spaces. 

What are you waiting for? 

Ready to delve into Calvino’s imaginary world to find radical answers and practical solutions for your city’s tomorrow? Make sure to register for Energy Cities’ Inspirational Day on Wednesday, October 18th!  

Discover the full programme of this year’s forum Grafting Cities. 


Invisible Cities, Energy Cities' Inspirational Day in Modena, journey through Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities

Illustrations by Lukas Verstraete