Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Different pictures

In Italian I make a picture (‘faccio una foto‘, almost a creation that we build) or we snap it (‘ho scattato una foto‘ and it literally took an instant). In French, like in English, I take a picture (‘je prends une photographie‘ – almost an egoistic gesture). In Spanish (‘saco una fotografia‘) and in Greek (‘βγάζω μια φωτογραφία‘) I take out a picture: maybe a memory of when there was still a film that you had to extract from the camera? In German (‘ein Foto aufnehmen/machen‘) I take up a picture, as if it was a flower hanging there for me.

Alcune cose a caso, da luoghi diversi

Il vento che sposta le canne nel canneto. Radiofreccia nella macchina, la notte buia, ma con qualche luce di lampione e di casa qua e là sulla collina. Il blu, quel blu tipico di Parigi, di cui è colorata la moquette posta sui quattro piani di scale che portano a casa. Il panettiere cordiale del quartiere e la baguette che è appena uscita dal forno. Il clic clac degli sci sulla neve fresca, nel bosco, la luce del sole tra gli alberi. Una voce famigliare alla stazione.

Less politics

Politics has vanished from this blog. Bizarre. I used to write a lot about attitudes, elections, parties. Then I stopped. I almost feel ashamed when I read through my recent posts: they are all about me, me, me.

Sometimes I wish I could be like another Lorenzo, who publishes daily witty comments on the political situation. I cannot. Probably I have few things to say because nowadays I spend too little time talking about politics with friends. When I want to write a short commentary here, I hesitate : surely it has already been written, much more clearly and elegantly, by someone else.

Perhaps this is why I do even more lists than I used to in the past. Unlike structured comments, lists know no boundaries. They are open, incremental, potentially indeterminate. I started doing lists of articles to read, lists of podcasts to listen to and, of course, lists of books to read. This way, I redirect my two or three readers somewhere else. Go there, read what she writes, listen to what he says: create your own opinion.

2021: resolutions

Change house, job, and shoes. Sign up for one cross country skiing race. Free ride on the mountains. Draw on a sketchbook. Polish up the archive of pictures taken over the last few years. Write some letters in French. Plan. Write an academic manuscript. Have a big meal, in a vineyard, from midday to midnight, with a huge group of friends. Update the blog regularly and publish some inflammatory political posts. Visit Peace River. Race a go-kart race. Hike on the mountains (via ferrata) with Arianna, Giallu, Ludo, Nicco, and a big group. Translagorai! Spend time with Camilla and Isabella. Play, often. Relaunch the Gingerello s.p.a. Go sailing. Spend new year’s eve with the Canadians.

Books I have read, 2020

I start the year with a masterpiece: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoievsky. Truth be said, I started listening to this audiobook in the summer of 2019, riding up the Col du Sanetsch. I put it aside and then I resumed with the snow: first in Lavazé Pass, then in Valais. Perhaps this is a book that needs to be read in the snow. I would recommend it to all those who like reading hundreds of different stories in the same book; and to all prospective psychologists. At some point in the Fall, I randomly recommend this book to Giulia. She claims, with no proof, that she first recommended it to me in 2019.

Karamazov

In early February I spend a day in Milan, and several hours between Hoepli and the Mondadori Megastore. I fondly remember the company of Dani and the three books I bought there, all of which can be read lightly and joyfully: Il Piccolo Libro dei Colori by Dominique Simonnet and Michel Pastoureau, Il Tennis come esperienza religiosa by David Foster Wallace, and Photography by Tom Ang.

In March I went to ski in Leutasch, courtesy of my father, and then in Leysin, courtesy of Yvan. There was some suspicion around Italians, since Covid-19 was spreading quickly in the north-east part of the country. (When I was in Leysin, on Saturday evening, I remember reading in disbelief about a lockdown in Milan). I traveled to Paris the next Friday and on Saturday afternoon I went to the bookshop near our home, L’Odeur du Book. There I bought an elegant photography book, Visions du sport by Jean-Claude Gautrand. It was raining and I read it right away at Le Timbale. On the table next to mine, three men were playing a board game. Next day, a national lockdown began.

Visions du sport

The first book I read in lockdown was Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s Photography after Photography, which I had bought in Berlin‘s b.-books Buchladen. This is an excellent follow-up to Sustan Sontag’s On Photography. I also read three books by Sebastião Salgado: Children, Terres de café, Workers. If you have to pick one, I would go for the latter: it should be a mandatory read for everyone studying sociology.  However, my two quarantine books are: Epitaph of a small winner by the extraordinary Brazilian writer Machado de Assis (recommended by Martina: funky and innovative) and Gli Europei by Orlando Figes (which I bought at Todo Modo in Florence, during the same trip that had brought me to Milan: a historically detailed story of much of period between 1850 and 1900 between Paris and Oryol).

These books were followed by a streak of comics triggered by Ludo’s gift Macerie Prime by Zerocalcare (itself a consequence of the hugely popular series Rebibbia Quarantine, by the same author). This is how I read: Aldobrando (Gipi), Asterix chez les normands and Asterix chez les belges (Goscinny and Uderzo), L’Arabe du futur : Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984 (Riad Sattouf), Nerval l’inconsolé (Daniel Casanave), C’est pas ma faute (Mordillo). It must have been May, because I bought all these books as soon as the bookstores re-opened and I read some of them in Bois des Boulogne. From that period I also remember reading  L’Ame du Monde (a gift from Lenard) on the stairs behind the Sacre Coeur, on a sunny Sunday when we were finally allowed to go outside.

In June I listened to two books while riding my bike in Switzerland: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan (as a consequence of this book, I took a hiatus from coffee between September and November) and Sostiene Pereira by Antonio Tabucchi read by Sergio Rubini. If I were to recommend one single book from 2020, it would probably be this one. It is a story with a special aurea, situated in a precise moment of the history of Portugal, and the main hero is a universal character.

sostiene-pereira

My main summer reading, which was highly recommended by Arianna and Iris: Metà di un sole giallo by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Another story told by many different voices. This is another book I suggest to you all. A book I do not recommend is My Turn: The Autobiography by Johann Cruyff. Badly written, pompous. Also rather pontifical and at times racist, but nonetheless worth a read: Il Mediterraneo in barca by Simenon, which I bought in Florence on my way back from Cilento. This falls in the same category of Il Piccolo Libro dei Colori by Dominique Simonnet and Michel Pastoureau, il Tennis come esperienza religiosa by David Foster Wallace: an easy read for an afternoon on the train. The book also contains some remarkable photos.

metacc80-di-un-sole-giallo

End of August in Brittany: this is where Arianna and I were recommended In Waves by Craig Thompson. A great comic about surf and illness, with colourful sketches. (The other suggestion: Algues Vertes, a shady story on politics and Brittany, which I save for the next year). Early September in Biarritz with Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz. Perhaps it was the wrong moment, as I wanted to read something happy, colourful, and fast. This sad, grey, slow book did not fit at all.

Between September and November, back in Paris, I read two other books by Gipi (S and Note per una storia di guerra: these are chefs d’oeuvre in the field of comic strips), a unique book in the history of photography (The Frenchman: A Photographic Interview with Fernandel by Philippe Halsman), and a book I waited two years to delve into (4, 3, 2, 1 by Paul Auster. I have not made up my mind on whether I loved this book or not, but I still find myself thinking about it often. This is a great sign. Another good sign is my curiosity for the book’s acute reviews on Goodreads). 

November and December was the ideal time for L’Oeuvre au Noir by Marguerite Yourcenar. Too hard to read it in French and not simple to finish it in Italian. A masterpiece that I would not recommend to everyone. Go for it if you have a weak spot for Flanders, the history of the sixteenth century, lyrical books, complex characters.

L'opera al nero

Four books to finish the year covering my main literary passions: an extraordinary journey through the work of a Geneva-born photographer who fell in love with the Mediterranean and took some astounding pictures on the coasts of Greece, Italy, and Turkey over a century ago (Fred Boissonnas et la Méditerranée), a historic and self-questioning book on lying and on the contemporary history of Spain, a bit à la Carrère (L’impostore by Javier Cercas), a short, simple tale of a small village in Grisons (L’ultima neve by Arno Camenisch), and a complex, colourful, and masterfully drawn comic (Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa: a lot of books about Portugal in the last two years).

Anna nella neve

Librerie

Rimpiango non essere stato un cultore delle librerie ai tempi del mio erasmus a Dublino, in Irlanda e trovo strano che la straordinaria Library del Trinity College non abbia acceso la mia latente bibliofilia. Quest’ultima rimase nascosta anche durante il mio periodo di studio a Victoria, Canada, dove pure ci sono sicuramente librerie uniche al mondo. A Bruxelles confesso di non aver mai avuto una libreria indipendente e di aver sempre frequentato Filigranes, che credo sia una delle più grandi d’Europa.

La prima libreria indipendente che ricordo davvero con affetto è la Armchair Books di Edimburgo, dove capitai per caso quando stavo lì nel 2014. Poi a Firenze mi innamorai della Todo Modo e ancora oggi ci torno sempre appena posso. A Torino, dove vissi tra 2016 e 2017, ero un assiduo frequentatore della sobria ed elegante Luxembourg a due passi da Piazza Carignano. Quando torno in Trentino mi concedo spesso una deviazione a Rovereto per visitare l’Arcadia, anche se lo scorso anno Stefania mi ha fatto scoprire una nuova libreria nel quartiere di San Martino: la Due Punti. A Neuchâtel frequento il Centre Social Protestant, che non è proprio una libreria ma ha un’ampia selezione di volumi usati di cui faccio incetta. A Parigi ci sono due librerie vicine a casa nostra: l’Odeur du Book per libri usati ormai fuori commercio, con una bella selezione legata all’arte, al cinema, e alla filosofia; e l’Humeur Vagabonde, con fumetti e fotografia. Risalendo verso Lamarck c’è un posto polveroso per fumetti usati, Encre du Chine, dove si trova letteralmente di tutto. Ogni tanto mi piace sperperare soldi nelle varie sedi di Gibert Joseph – soprattutto in quella del Quartiere Latino, che però sta per chiudere.

Ci sono anche librerie viste quasi di sfuggita. Lo scorso anno sono finito in un posto bellissimo a Madrid, pieno di scaffali e legno, specializzato in volumi di montagna: la Desnivel, a due passi da Anton Martìn. Mi è spiaciuto non averci portato Arianna, che era appena ripartita. Altre librerie visitate di sfuggita e nelle quali spero un giorno di tornare sono l’ampa ed enorme Libreria di Palazzo Roberti a Bassano e l’elegantesca e variopinta Hoepli a Milano. Sempre a Milano, Dani mi ha portato una volta alla Libreria del Mare: mi sarei comprato tutte le carte nautiche, anche se non le so interpretare. Sui muri di casa, però, farebbero un figurone.

Going out

I came back to Trento one week before a new round of restrictions to mobility entered into force. During these days I went up the mountains: Bondone, Paganella, Folgaria, Lusia. It was my time to listen, speak, think.

In the introduction to the book of Walter Micheli, Passioni e sentieri, Franco de Battaglia writes that gasping and panting during the ascent, men and women of different ideas discover that they share a similar fatigue. I always had the suspicion that Walter liked mountain trails for this reason too, not only naturalistic, but also a little socialist (own translation from Italian).

Seminario de Madrid

This is a photo taken in 1960 by Ramón Masatas. Notice the shape of the goalkeeper and the seminarist on the right, the back to the goal, the head turned, almost ready to snap.

When I arrived at the seminary, I was struck by a football match in which the seminarians themselves were playing, despite wearing cassocks. I got behind the lens and watched them play. I asked them if they could stop the game and take some shots at the goalkeeper. They shot 18 or 20 times, until I managed to get this wonderful picture… Was it a goal? Yes, it was a goal, but I didn’t find out until I was able to enlarge the photo to a very large size. I noticed that the ball was behind the priest’s hand. It took me a while to see it. I didn’t find out until 10 or 15 years later.

Ricette amichevoli

Anatra culo-allegro alla Matteo Bulgaresi (Firenze)
Arista infornata con mela, noci, uvetta alla Paolo Bulgaresi (Firenze)
Beer chicken di Thomoose (Firenze)
Cool-Cous alla Niels (Torino, già presentato qui)
Cuori di carciofo saporitissimi in salsa di prezzemolo alla zio Ale (Trento)
Frittata parigina con tanti funghi alla Giantommaso e variante Giacomea (Neuchatel/Bruxelles)
Gnocchi di patate da tre punti, con mamma e babbo che li tirano in pentola dalla distanza (Trento)
Hornazo di carne varia pero sobretodo cerdo alla Pablo (Salamanca)
Linguine al pesto all’Arianna, eh vabbé (Parigi)
Orzo paraculo con pesto, pomodoro e mozzarella danielosa (Firenze)
Parmigiana all’Andrea, con un goccetto di olio (Firenze)
Pasta alla Giallu con quello che c’è: pane e tante acciughe (Firenze)
Pasta alla Jonas con colesterolo: pomodori, panna e parmigiano (Firenze)
Pasta alla Marco senza labrusco: sangiovese, salsicce, e panna  (Dublino)
Pinza trentina con tanta lucanica del babbo (Trento)
Quiche alla Ada con infornata di salmone (Firenze, da qualche parte sullo sfondo qui)
Salmorejo alla Anna con uova, pancetta e un pizzico di balsamico (Granada)
Salsicce alla zia Luisa in salsa rossa (Trento)
Spaghetti alla Moe in salsa affumicata: tutto sotto controllo (Bruxelles)
Risotto alla Lorenzo con vino rosso, meglio se Teroldego (Victoria)
Tiramisu in faccia di zio Paolo (Trento)
Torta morbidina alla cioccolata targata Anna (Trento)
Vellutata di zucca e patate con semi di girasole alla mensa dell’università (Neuchatel)
Zuppa di cipolle di zia Elisabetta (Trento, ma addocchiata per la prima volta a Bardonecchia)
Zuppa di salmone gratinato alla Johannes (Firenze)
Zuppa di agnello toncato nel pane alla Jean-Baptiste (Reykjavik)