Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Black Office

When I arrived in Neuchâtel last year I was going through a big cycling mania: I had just finished the Strade Bianche and I was preparing for the Gran Fondo di Fiesole. The Black Office, or the atelier libre for fixing and setting up bikes, looked like the ideal place to hang out.

One big problem, though, is that I did not speak French at the time. This was a significant obstacle. People at the Black Office would speak English to me, but then I was unavoidably excluded from all the group conversations. It was frustrating. I left Switzerland in July 2016.

Then I moved back in September this year. I went back to the Black Office only last week – not sure why it took me so long. It was a casual Saturday afternoon, but I found there Romain, Cyril, and Cyril. They recognised me. I then met some new guys who were not there last year – Ralph and Gaetan. I like the place. This is a little jewel of anarchist creativity in conservative Switzerland.


Bands, 2017

Alt-J, Andrew Bird, Angus and Julia Stone, Antony and the Johnsons, the Arcade Fire, Balmorhea, Beach Boys, Ben Howard, Bloc Party, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, the Cat Empire, Cat Stevens, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dan Mangan, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Dire Straits, Eddie Vedder, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Gaslight Anthem, Grandbrothers, Jack Johnson, Jack Savoretti, Keith Jarret, Kings of Leon, Leonard Cohen,  Lucio Dalla, the Police, the Queen, Silversun Pickups, We are Augustines, White Buffalo.

Stray ashes

Stray ashes.JPG

The most precious secret

(in Niels’ life)


1) Fry unions and mushrooms in a pot with olive oil. Don’t overdo it, just give them a tiny bit of color.
2) Add chickpeas and pepper (red) and let steam for a few minutes.
3) Add crushed tomatoes. Let cook for a few minutes.
4) Add a cube of vegetable stock and cream (quite a bit).
5) Maybe add some chili powder and pepper if you want.
6) Pour boiling water over cous cous and add some olive oil to it.
7) Serve it to someone and see that person immediately fall in love with you.

Measurements I leave up to you. I’m not gonna reveal everything in one go.

Niels et Martijn.JPG

A simple garden

Epicurus led a commune of followers in an Athenian garden in the early third-century BC. The aim of philosophy, he maintained, is to help people living a tranquil life and overcoming the fear of death. “All good and evil lie in sensation, whereas death is the absence of sensation,” wrote Epicurus in a letter. “Hence a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding infinite time, but by ridding us of the desire for immortality.” That is why Epicurus – in contrast to the crude hedonism invented by his detractors – denounced the rapidly rotting fruits of dissipation and excess. The constant pursuit of intense pleasures will in fact back-fire, because it leads to the psychological hell of enslavement to insatiable appetites. The best sort of life, suggests Epicurus, is one that is free from pain in the body and from disturbance in the mind. This is an important philosophy today, as we are inundated by instant gratifications and toxic distractions.

More enjoy fencing

I started fencing a bit more than a year ago in Torino. My teacher there was a huge guy from Cuba, Carlos. The gym was huge, too, and the training was mostly off-piste consisting of a range of physical exercise to coordinate the brain with the muscles. Back in Neuchatel, I signed up for the fencing club and I now go every Tuesday and Wednesday at lunch time. The club is small and cozy, we do a lot of duels and it is my favourite moment of the week. This is the occasion I have been waiting for to share the video More enjoy fencing with you.


I do épée.

Can elected politicians have two passports?

I have written a post for the blog of the nccr – on the move, the Swiss research centre I have been working for since early September. The post sets out from the debate concerning the dual citizenship of politicians: this issue has caused a government crisis in Australia and has also been at the centre of the debate in Switzerland. In my post I use two existing datasets, from GLOBALCIT and MACMIDE respectively, to show which countries around the world establish legal restrictions that make it more complex and sometimes impossible for individuals with dual citizenship to stand as candidates for elections. You can click on the image below to open my interactive map.

citizenship-based restrictions for politicians


Following the publication of my post, I have asked other academics to take up the same question from their perspective. You can find a contribution written by Barbara von Rutte here and one by Nenad Stojanovic here.

You can also read these posts in Italian here.

Etta mi fa gli auguri

Un cubano

Ieri partita di calcetto con la squadra che ho messo assieme: è la squadra dell’ufficio, Swiss Forum of Migration (SFM), anche se per il torneo ho deciso che ci chiameremo Savoir Faire à Manger (SFM). Perso 8 a 1. Al Bistrò, poco dopo. Arrivo prima degli altri ragazzi perché sono in bici. Mi siedo e aspetto. Di fronte a me due passano due ragazze. Le guardo felice. Poi il mio sguardo incontra quello di un altro solitario avventore, anche lui chiaramente ammirato dalle donne. Attacca discorso. E’ cubano, si chiama Elias. Continua a parlare della cultura e di come lui la venda. Come, non mi è chiaro. Quel che invece è chiaro è che lui conosce ben poco della storia e della geografia e dell’arte; ma all’Havana ha incontrato Lorenzo Jovanotti e Antonello Venditti e si sente quindi un ambasciatore dell’arte italiana nel mondo. Arrivano i compagni: Marco, Robin ed Elie. Proviamo a parlare di noi, ma Elias ormai non si scolla più. Quando Robin racconta brevi storie salaci sul suo erasmus a Palermo, lui allarga le braccia e urla ‘Questa è cultura! Mi commuovo! Piango! Cultura!‘. Capisco che devo andarmene. Elias mi attacca un ultimo torrone sulla semplicità nella vita e l’importanza di essere positivi e fraterni. Queste sciocchezze da hippie squattrinati mi fanno infuriare. Mi congedo; lui dice che mi ha pagato tutte le birre e la cena, ma non è vero. Insiste sull’andare a fare serata assieme a Berna più avanti questo mese. Me ne vado.

Oggi arrivo in ufficio dopo pranzo. Robin mi chiede se ero già andato via quando il cubano ha rovesciato tutte le birre sul tavolo. Marco mi dice che sono un Giuda e che ‘quel cazzo di cubano si è fatto offrire tutte le birre e la cena‘. Elie non vuole più parlarmi.

Penso che regalerò loro una copia di Prendilo tu questo frutto amaro, live all’Havana 1995.


Carrera Bikes, Arvier, Aosta, Lucio Dalla, Konstanz, Flaked, sophrologie, gruyer, Neuchatel Xamax, qualche posizione yoga qua e là, Giovanni Allevi, Radio France Culture, NIP Radio, Saint Ouen, soldatini di piombo dipinti a mano, Gore Vidal and William Buckley Junior.