Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Category: lorenzo

Drei Zinnen

In 2012 I resolved to hike with friends at least once every summer. It went well for a few years. Then, slowly but surely, the group started to shrink. Last year, Giallu and I were the only survivors.

This year, a lucky combination of two factors that are not entirely unrelated – Arianna’s joining the group and the popular desire to spend time outdoor after three months in a lockdown – revitalised our tradition.

Here we are, eleven of us, when we still thought we were stronger than the rain (spoiler alert: we were not). Giallu, Giacomo, Arianna, Carlo, Delina, Lorenzo, Ludo, Gabo, Anna, Dani. This year’s hike is on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, die Drei Zinnen.

Fiscalina

We start at Hotel Dolomitenhof (1’465), Val Fiscalina, right next to Sesto. Even with thr clouds, this is a scenic valley. Only now I remember I used to go there as a kid. We do not mind the rain too much. The the trail becomes a little river and we do mind a little bit. At about 2’000 meters of altitude we start shivering. At this point, we mind the rain very much. The Rifugio Locatelli (2’450), our objective for the day, appears and then disappears in the fog. Nerve wracking. It is a good feeling to arrive in our room.

Just like last year, we spend much of the first afternoon napping. Dani overhears another group talking about a “magic room” where clothes and boots dry up quickly. We go on a treasure hunt. We find the room: it does not look that magic, but it is indeed a little warmer than all other spots in the hut.

We have dinner. Very good dinner. A healthy mix of vegetables and meat. Noted down for future hikes. Gloria and Emanuele join us from Brunico, enlarging the Florentine and Milanese sections of the group.

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We wake up on a glorious Sunday morning. Gabo walks triumphantly to the dorm: there is a magic flow of air in the magic room and all our clothes and boots will get dry in no time. It is a warm, powerful flow coming from the kitchen. Ludovica throws her boots right into it. Carlo tells the story of when he did the same as a kid and his boots broke apart shortly after because of the excessive heat. We all laugh.

The group splits. Some of us go for the via ferrata to Monte Paterno (Paternkofel, 2’440), others take the lower trail to Rifugio Plan di Cengia (2’528). It is a bright day, and we move up the rocks following the ‘Cling cling’ of our carabiners. Everything is simple and there isn’t much to say.

I took the photo of a bridge and next to it there are the ruins of an old bridge. When my parents did the same via ferrata in the 70s, they had to use the old bridge, which was pretty much like it is today.

From Rifugio Plan di Cengia we hike together to Rifugio Comici (2’224). There we lose Giacomo (who goes for the Via ferrata degli alpini) and Carlo (who has to be back for dinner). This is where Ludo’s boots break. No one laugh. We all think of Carlo.

We arrive to the car a little earlier than dusk. We head to Trento where we want to have a typical dinner. We reserve a table at La Gnoccata. When I ask for the tortel trentino, they tell me ‘Questa è cucina tipica emiliana, qui di trentino abbiamo solo il cameriere‘. And what a waiter. Wild, compassionate, garrulous. We will be back.

Applauses

On Thursday March 12th I went to see Andreas in Vevey. We climbed up a Dent with the skis, ate a soup, and then I headed home and packed some clothes. On the evening I was at the Reithalle in Bern to watch Perro Bomba, as part of the movie series organised by Christina and Lisa. I sneaked out of the room to watch the televised speech by Emmanuel Macron. The next morning, very early in the morning, I hopped on the train from Neuchatel to Paris. I breathed a sight of relief upon arriving at Gare de Lyon. I had spent the entire week worrying that the French government may close the borders abruptly, tearing Arianna and I apart.

I remember going to L’Odeur du Book on Saturday. It is a small bookshop managed by an Italian couple. I bought a big volume, Visions du sport – Photographies 1860-1960, and read it at Le Timbale. Three young men on the table next to mine were drinking Belgian beer and playing a complicated board game. Outside it started to rain.

It was an open secret that the French government was going to impose a lock-down soon. The rest of Europe had looked at Italy with contempt when the government introduced draconian measures in the weekend of March 9th; just like Italy had looked at China with contempt between January and February. That weekend I was skiing in Leysin with Yvan, Jean-Thomas, Maria, Quinn: on Saturday evening I could not get myself away from the phone upon hearing the news the Lombardy was to be quarantined within 12 hours.

The French government had decided to wait before imposing the lock-down to allow the first round of the municipal elections to go ahead. The elections were due the weekend I arrived in Paris. Arianna and I had dinner in the house with Luca and Marco. We bid farewell. The next day, Macron announced the lock-down.

I spent the following two months working on my presentations and indicators. Together with Arianna, we grew a little garden in the kitchen; and we ran up to the Sacre Coeur every evening at 19:00. At 20:00 we would be on our balcony clapping with the neighbours: the young couple in front of us, the elderly lady with a dachshund (Toby) visiting her friends on the ground floor, the elderly homosexual couple with elegant colourful clothes further down the street. Bizarrely (for Paris), the sun shone through the entire lock-down: it felt like we were living in a warm Mediterranean city.

 

A few weeks ago, the lock-down was gradually lifted. The applauses disappeared gradually, too. A few die-harders continued to clap every evening at 20:00. They slowly decreased in number, then one week ago the applauses stopped altogether. The posters advertising candidates of the municipal elections are still hanging on the streets. I suppose that taking them down is not considered an essential activity. Awkwardly, it still feels like that grey electoral Saturday of mid-March.

Earlier this week, the government finally allowed bars and restaurants to open their terraces again. The first day of opening, Tuesday, was magnificent. I realised how much I had missed the feeling of reading in the sun, with people around me. In a classic French ironic twist, on Wednesday evening a thunderstorm brought mayhem on the city. The temperatures have dropped to 10 degrees and it looks like it will be raining for the next seven days or so.

2020: resolutions

Start and finish one cross country skiing race. Free ride on the mountains. Eat chocolate. Remember. Get a sketchbook. Polish up the archive of pictures taken over the last few years. Learn some German. Do some interviews for my research. Experiment with French cuisine in Jules Joffrin. Spend a week in Berlin with Arianna, Anna, Felix, Jonas. Update the blog regularly. Write letters. Organise something with Giacomo and Francesco. Volunteer. Hike on the mountains (via ferrata) with Arianna, Giallu, Nicco, other friends and family. Race a gran fondo. Spend time with Camilla and Isabella. Relaunch the Gingerello s.p.a. Go sailing. Play tennis.  Spend new year’s eve with the Canadians in Canada.

Another website

More professional than this: www.lorenzopiccoli.eu. It has been alive for two years now but I never advertised it anywhere.

lorenzopiccoli dot eu

Looks good?

Books I have read, 2018

I remember reading Annie Ernaux’s Memoria di ragazza on the train during a long, romantic night ride between Stockholm and Kiruna. Outside it was snowing. I felt like I was part of a Swedish noir movie. Next to me, Giallu, and Nicco were muttering indistinct phrases while Jasper was listening to Bubble Butt. We had decided to split two beds and two seats. It all went smoothly until Giallu was locked out of his cabin. The thought of that still makes me smile. The book, which I had bought together with Anna in a little library of Rovereto that we had previously discovered thanks to Martina, is honestly not great. I like its reflexivity and the way in which you can reconsider your own past. It is a bit too depressing for my taste, though.

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Between January and February I read one book that had been given to me as a present by Martina during 2016: Jimmy Nelson’s Before they pass away. I remember seeing it in Iris and Erik’s apartment in Rotterdam when I was there six months earlier. Big book. Around the same time I also devoured Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography. I am going to read more books on geopolitics in the next few years.

Between February and March I listened to Emmanuel Carrére’s Limonov through Radio Rai’s podcast Ad Alta Voce. Boy, what a good experience this was. Credit goes to Martina, who had recommended me the podcast – and the book: I remember I first saw it in her house, when she gave it to Fabio. I spent two weeks listening to it. Most vivid in my memory is the four hour non-stop session on my way to Zinal with Jean-Thomas and Elie. I also remember I stopped going to the office by bike around that time so that I could walk down slowly and listen to Limonov. This book left a trace.

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Definitely less impactful was Jack London’s Martin Eden. I wanted to read a big, classic book again after my entertaining experience with Il Conte di Montecristo. This has not matched my expectations, though. My second weekend in Zinal, this time with Annique and Eva, I read William Boyd’s Sweet Caress. I had previously bought the book in Zurich. Another book by William Body, Any human heart, is definitely one of the best reads I have ever had. Not this one, though. I should have seen it coming: the name of the author is written in way bigger characters than the title of the book on the cover page.

Back in Neuchatel I started a new audiobook, courtesy of Radio Rai: Umberto Eco’s Il nome della rosa. I had read this great piece of art as a kid but I had forgotten everything. When Pedro hosted me for the second time in Madrid in 2017, I remember buying a Spanish copy of the book for him that I found in a second-hand market in El Retiro. It was a beautiful sunny day. This is an extraordinary book that everybody should read twice in their life.

Il nome della rosa

I like to think of my spring in Paris together with Robert Doisneau’s Paris. When the first sun started to kick in in Neuchatel, I followed Francesca’s advice and I read Primo Levi’s, Il sistema periodico. My image of this book is that of the little cabins in Neuchatel’s harbor.

On my way to Cuba I decided to bring two books only: Eduardo Galeano’s Bocas del tiempo (strongly suggested by Jean-Thomas, who had loved the book when he read it in Argentina) and Alessandro Raveggi’s Panamericana (I had read about it somewhere and got curious). When I ran out of books, because we spent too much time reading due to the rain, Thomoose passed me his copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Oh what a pleasure to read it under the sun in El Varadero like a capitalist tourist.

In June I read Daniele del Giudice’s Staccando l’ombra da terra. This was a present by Giulia. Yes, yes, yes – a very good book.

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In July I celebrated the Tour de France by reading two books by Bidon: Il Centogiro and Se qualcuno viene mi fa piacere. Leonardo Piccione’s career as a writer is quickly taking off and I will forever pride myself with the discovery of his talent before he became known to the big public.

In August I read Emmanuel Carrére’s Il Regno. I remember going through it on the Lake of Molveno, together with my dad who had read it a few months earlier. Two other books I read in July: Paolo Soglia’s Hanno deciso gli episodi, and Augusto Pieroni’s Leggere la fotografia. Not quintessential.

In Croatia I read Emmanuel Carrére, D’Autres vies que la mienne. This is the second book in French I completed after Albert Camus’ L’Etranger, which I read last year. I was proud. This book is way too long though and I would only recommend the first one hundred pages of it. I also read a comic book by Vladimir Grigorieff and Abdel de Bruxelles, Le conflit insraeélo-palestinien, which I had bought in Brussels with Anna.

In early October I read Robert Capa’s Slightly Out of Focus. It was good to read it on the boat with Giallu, Nicco, and Jonas. I told Thomoose to read it. It is entertaining. You read Capa and you can never tell whether he is for real. He just goes like – hei, let’s have a good time. In late October, on my way to Kenya, I read Desmond Morris’ La scimmia nuda. This was a present by Eliana. Nailed it. It was a good coincidence to read it in the country that really is the cradle of humanity.

Between November and December I read Giuseppe Sciortino’s Rebus immigrazione. He was my professor at the bachelor’s in sociology. This is a small and lean book that I read during one train ride from Trento to Neuchatel.  Finally, in December I read Mary Ellen Mark’s On the Portrait and the Moment. This was my graduation present by Iris and Erik. They know how to make their pick. The most charming part of photography, for me, is portraits – of humans, rhinos and elephants. Landscapes are boring.

And this is the end. Reading back the post I realise that my book choices are closely tied to the people I know and the place I visit. I do not do this on purpose. But it feels right.


Read my ‘books I have read‘ posts from 2017201620152014., 2013.

2019: resolutions

Finish the Diagonela and the Marcialonga. Take some good pictures, mainly portraits. Cook: soupe à l’oignon, parmigiana, babaganoush. Improve French, learn some German. Drink beer with Anna. Regularly update the blog. Write letters to Thomas. Hike on the mountains with Giallu, Nicco, other friends and family. Memorise twelve poems: one per month. Read one, big classic book of the Russian literature. Travel with Jonas. Produce Gingerello with Zuppa and Biraghi. Go sailing. Play tennis. Spend new year’s eve with the Canadians, possibly in the mountains.

Swissmaking, one year later

Jean Thomas and François, Rue de la Côte, the mattress. Unine, SUN. Escrime on Tuesday and Wednesday, tennis with Salomon on Thursday. Gruyere and freshly baked baguette at the Saturday market. Xamax with Elie and Raffaele. Genève. Giulia. Les Bains des Pâquis. Pasta fresca with Marco. The morning breakfast with le dinosaure at the Boulangerie de la Côte. Football with Michael and the ‘Savoir Faire a Manger‘ team. Santiago. Salsa, tango. Johanna. Mail. Dinner chez Maria, Damaso, Guido. Come si chiamano le tartarughe? Basel with Annique, carnival. Valais, Zinal. The lights of Zurich. Chasseron, alpine skying. La Fée verte ou absinthe du Val-de-Travers. Chasseral. La tartare a Yverdon. The Italian Consulate in Bern. Gaetan, Fribourg. Interlaken. The Aar from Thun to Bern. The Black Office and Cyclop. La Case à Chocs in Fall, le Chauffage Compris in Winter, Univers in Spring.

Firenze a giugno

Cyclop

Do you remember the Black Office? We are now turning into a cinema. Gaetan and Romain set up a large screen and a stereo. Annique and Stephanie improved the concept and created the layout. Johanna helped with the selection of movies. And we now have a calendar of movie sessions that are somehow related to the bike.

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Do you have ideas on other films that can be included in the future? Write me an email at lorenzo.piccoli@unine.ch or get in touch on twitter @piccolimeister.

11 April

Important announcement: on 11 April 2018 I became a doctor in Political and Social Sciences (tutto vero). Erik and Monika took some pictures upon the occasion and then we all headed to the phenomenal Blu Bar in Fiesole to celebrate.

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