Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: ada

Reinventing oneself

Some lessons I learnt after living for two months without a home and spending all my time on trains, planes, and friends’ houses (thanks!). A note for the random visitor: these are just scattered notes I write for myself, not a coherent post.


People seem to waste too much of their time communicating with digital devices. This is an old refrain, I know, but it is scary how people use their phones nowadays – and for what? I have been on trains where all the persons of a family of four never spoke to each other for the whole ride, because they were all incessantly looking at their devices. Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, emails, sms, Twitter, emails, Telegram: even me, I am inundated by applications to chat. I often think of a line of a certain Passenger’s song, we pretend to be friends on the internet when in real life we have nothing to say. As a reaction I have grown increasingly more inept at communicating with my phone. Forget long messages. Rather, I have elected four simple ways of communicating with you: (1) this blog; (2) a short sarcastic message, picture, or video to laugh about; (2) a handwritten letter, for those of you who really matter; (4) a flight/train ticket to come and see each other in person.

Smartphone apps, more generally

There was a moment of my trip when I was craving for a map of Berlin. Until that point I had been getting around anywhere just fine using googlemaps. Sure, the app was working well; but I realised it was my fourth time in Berlin and I still had no idea of how the city was structured and I could not even remember the name of the neighbourhood where I was staying. The way I use googlemaps is just to get to A to B and, as a consequence, I never memorise the information. I made a resolution for myself to start using old paper maps again – like these. It is not for a case that when I was still in Trento I had the ambitious project of creating one. (I failed, but not for lack of trying).

Being a guest

I received precious hospitality by Giallu, Martina, Pietro, Giulia, Jonas. I learnt to wake up in the sun, listen to classical music, treat wooden objects with respect, prepare a smoothie, separate clothes in the laundry machine. But – hei – I am just not made for being a long-term guest. I feel like I am invading someone else’s space. So this experience confirms that I am a bourgeois deep down in my bones. The word bourgeois, as you know, denotes a person that takes for granted the sanctity of property. This brings me to point 4 of my diary.


Niels, who is going to live with me in Torino in a couple of days, says that he wants to have his belongs packed in one simple bag. A-ha: nonsense. Living in Florence for three years I have accumulated an incredible amount of stuff: books, clothes, games, bikes, paintings, a scooter, laptops, tables, all sorts of technology. This stuff -material stuff, really- reflects my personality; in some ways, it is even an extension of it. This is why I feel so strange knowing that it is now scattered around six different houses (err – and I take the opportunity to thank again my friends for their patience).


Material stuff reflects my personality, sure. There is another reason, though, why it is so important to me: it also captures a particularly happy period of my life. So now when I take up Bruti I remember the late evenings playing it with Dani; when I take that one glass of whiskey I remember the night when I was with Thomas and he knew he got into law school; when I look at the little school bus I remember of my improvised journey all the way to Denmark with Iris; and so on: you got the gist. Now – of course you realise I have been bloody sentimental about leaving my home in Florence, but I think that is for a reason. At the moment I doubt I will ever find a place so welcoming, so radiant, so relaxed as that. But then, who knows? When I got there in 2013 I had just experienced Brussels with Mindo, a truly marvellous flatmate and friend. So I was convinced I could not find anything better than that. In fact, half an hour after my arrival in the house Ada and I were fighting -literally fighting- over the consequences of Spanish colonisation in South America, leaving short of words both Jonas, who had rented the cheapest room but was forcefully assigned the most expensive one upon his arrival ‘because you are the last one who arrived and since we have already put our luggages in the other room it be a bit of a hassle to move them now, no?‘; and Dani, who had been accepted in the house at the last minute just because the girl who had been favoured over him turned out to be pregnant. It ended up going swimmingly: they are my closest friends now. So let us be surprised again.

Something like this

Queridos amigos,

I’m honoured and yet nervous to accept Lorenzo’s invitation to write in his blog. I’m supposed to tell you about my first month in Northern California. And first time in the US… (!)

I landed in San Francisco at night, 6pm Pacific time, a couple of days before New Year’s Eve and was first a bit afraid by the dim lights outside on my way to Berkeley. It turned out that Berkeley is pretty safe – though a few days later a guy was shot inside the wagon taking the same train at 7pm.

For about two weeks I was alone in this beautiful wooden house, reminding of that of Charmed witches’, as my sister pointed out. Our fourth flatmate Goose, a black cat, didn’t arrive yet either and I could hear people walking upstairs (technically our neighbours), so I just did what Europeans think Americans do (or at least I thought so)… introducing myself to the neighbours and inviting them for dinner – since I’m not so good at baking cakes.

In Florence I had met these wonderful people living in Berkeley, Dan & Naomi, who invited me to join their New Year’s Eve celebration with some of their friends… namely camping in Marine county, north of San Francisco. Don’t tell anybody, but I was excited when I saw the park rangers from Yogi. We slept in the middle of the forest, confessed our resolutions around a campfire, I made sure we had the 12 grapes a la española 36 seconds before midnight, we froze and heard apparently a bob cat at night. The next morning, first day of 2016, we hiked around the coast of the Pacific ocean!

Sunday after New Year’s I attended the yearly Econ conference, aka ASSA meetings. I went to pretty amazing seminars, including one by Andrea Matranga, who finds convincing evidence explaining why the Neolithic Revolution happened independently at different points in the globe. Below is a groupie picture of Joseph E. Stiglitz.

It was a smooth start, combined with lunch in Chinatown, San Francisco. I had never had such authentic and delicious food from everywhere in Asia before coming to the Bay area.

I also met a good friend of my brother, Adriana, of Serbian origin, whom as you can imagine, made it even more special for me. People ask me how it feels to move all the time, and it’s these occasions, meeting what you can feel are good friends of your siblings, that you feel you’re home despite or thanks to the fact that you’re moving. Few weeks after my arrival I get an email for an incredible boat trip along the Bay! My brothers’ present! Crazy… I could almost touch the Golden Gate bridge.

The academic year at UC Berkeley started only after Martin Luther King Jr Day, January 18. Finally the city began to be populated with students, my flatmates included, classes and seminars started and I found my favourite working space, the Doe Library and my Stammkaffee, the Free speech movement Café, dedicated to Mario Savio, a key activist for the Free speech movement. I quickly met my new friends in Berkeley, a group of material, nano-material, computer engineers, historians & philosophers, a lawyer, a neuroscientist, an economist from all over, Japan, Finland, Brazil, Italy and Germany… “the point is”, like Sheila would say, we cooked together Brazilian vegetarian lasagna (without lasagna pasta!),  Sushi, tortilla española, we had our ‘saideiras’,  our session in the Planetarium and shoes soaked in the Pacific…

I’m enjoying it a lot… I’m working a lot too, and getting extremely useful feedback from my mentor and Professors – amazing people (!) -, attending seminars several times a week that are so close to my topic, it’s very enriching… At lunch a good friend tells me about her lectures with Judith Butler ‘Undoing Gender’. Sometimes I also go and talk to my friend Tyrannosaurus…  It’s such an amazing place to be!

I’ll close with a Japanese poem, an excerpt from ‘Adagio ma non troppo’, by Sekiguchi Ryoko:

On our first meeting, always and only once, the doors facing the street turn this way, and as if left open and released, I run across the street




PS: Read in Japanese Kanji, not Mandarin.

PS2: The tall, gray building is Evans hall, the Econ department. It reminds me of la Rive Gauche in Paris… just as La Tour Montparnasse, it has the most beautiful view in UC Berkeley – from the 6th floor you can see the Bay, SF, and everything, except herself.

Riffe 39

La scorsa settimana smaltivo le conseguenze del sabato notte passeggiando lungo il Mugnone, che poi sarebbe il simpatico rivolo di ochette, acqua e nutrie che scorre pigramente a venti metri da a casa mia. Penso sia stato allora che ho finalmente capito: siamo destinati ad andarcene. Per sempre. Ci sono stati momenti in cui abbiamo pensato che saremmo rimasti all’infinito ed abbiamo smesso di preoccuparci del domani. Ma ci sbagliavamo: oggi è già domani, come si intitolava un film mediocre di pochi anni fa. E mentre torno a fissare il Mugnone penso che dopo alcuni anni di relativa quiete il fiume dell’esistenza si prepara ora a lasciare il vecchio letto alle spalle per scorrere in una direzione nuova.

Non parlo della nostra morte, un fatto comunque certo e inoppugnabile, ma della mia casa a Firenze. Tutto sembra indicare che a dicembre 2015 ce ne andremo tutti e quattro, Lorenz-Dani-Ada-Nele. For good. Sono stati due anni bellissimi, forse i più belli della mia vita. Ora restano ancora sei mesi e poi via, prepariamoci a ricominciare ancora una volta tutto d’accapo.

Un fine settimana di giugno dei ricercatori in Maremma

The material provided will be applauded with great enthusiasm by your devoted followers“.

Tosan Kraneis, 2015


Ogni tanto servono anche riflessioni personali e sentimentali e ti avviso subito, cara lettrice, che questa è una di quelle bombe sfacciatamente melodrammatiche che scrivo il venerdì sera dopo una lunga discussione a tavola.

Prima di tutti è stato Jonas e già il suo addio fu piuttosto melodrammatico. Tra pochi mesi Dani tornerà all’estero e questa volta sarà per qualche anno, se non per una vita. Ada partirà a gennaio e Nele anche. La maggior parte delle persone che hanno arricchito la mia vita a Firenze, da Martin a Fabio, Niels, Mariana, Anna, prenderanno il volo tra agosto e dicembre. Perfino i fiorentini, penso a Giallu, potrebbero andarsene. E io, che come sempre non ho ancora un programma definito [She said, “Where d’you think your going with that look upon your face / He said, “I’m going nowhere, would you like to come too”] non so ancora dove sarò. Forse dopo tutto anche io dovrò dire arrivederci a Firenze, questa città bellissima che mi ha accolto come una amica forte e virtuosa fin dai primi giorni. Da quando ho compiuto ventun anni ho sempre cercato di muovermi velocemente: non ho mai avuto difficoltà a stringere nuove amicizie e staccarmi sapendo che la vita è breve e va vissuta per tappe, senza fermarsi troppo a lungo nella stessa medesima situazione. E anzi, mi sono divertito a ricominciare daccapo anno dopo anno. Eppure questo posto, queste persone: non sono sicuro di essere pronto al distacco. L’unico modo di tirarmi su è una canzone che passa in questo momento alla radio e mi fa venire in mente una clip particolare: la emulerò, ballando ai tempi passati e quelli a venire.

Yellow dot in a violet tide

I am adding a long awaited photo story of the months of January and February. This is an anticipation of what you can expect to find in the gallery below:

– two pictures from Berlin – these are courtesy of mr. Gionas von Kalben;
– a lot of pictures by/with Thomas. The reason is explained here;
– pictures of a homeless guy sleeping in our house before leaving for Spain;
– pictures of two male parents-for-a-weekend taking care of their energetic child;
– pictures from the stadium Astemio Franchi – relatedly, it has been a glorious week for Fiorentina;
– some ski pictures – it was about time;
– a picture of a new brand of Grappa we are about to launch.

Sciare/Abetone mon amour?

La settimana scorsa, dopo che siamo andati a sciare assieme, il perfido Giallu ha diffuso una foto in cui appaio con espressione glaciale e una mano malamente sanguinante. Old Tom mi ha scritto apposta per dirmi che nei western quando un personaggio assume quell’espressione poi di solito si piega in avanti e appare in bella vista una freccia conficcata al centro della sua schiena. Tanti altri mi hanno chiesto se fosse tutto a posto. Vorrei approfittare di questo spazio per spiegare alle folle cosa è successo.

Il fattaccio accadde approssimativamente verso le 2 di pomeriggio, quando Giallu decise di avventurarsi su un declivio non battuto. Lo seguii, anche se a posteriori vorrei mettere per iscritto che avrei probabilmente preferito il placido e rassicurante tracciato della pista. La discesa, ad ogni modo, non fu memorabile: la neve si presentava infida e la presenza di pietre contribuiva a renderci prudenti. Arrivammo quindi in un punto dal quale era possibile rientrare in pista. Decisi che valeva la pena lanciarmi a folle velocità: il piano, semplicissimo ma evidentemente mal congeniato, consisteva nel rientrare da un passaggio perpendicolare, produrmi in una spettacolare sterzata e ripartire davanti stupore degli umanoidi che scendevano in quel momento per la pista battuta. Non avevo calcolato, o meglio, non m’ero accorto dell’esistenza di circa un metro di dislivello tra il declivio fuori-pista da cui sarei arrivato e la pista stessa. Me ne avvidi solo sul momento, ovvero quando mi trovai sospeso in aria a una velocità che non saprei quantificare precisamente, ma che non esiterei a definire considerevole.

Quel che successe dopo non é facile da descrivere. Penso di aver flesso le gambe, stabilendo quindi un contatto tra il mio deretano e la neve. A quel punto ho provando a risollevarmi spingendo con la mano al suolo, ma con scarsi risultati. Normalmente questa piroetta non avrebbe lasciato conseguenze, ma nella fattispecie non indossavo guanti da sci – già, come mai? Questo interrogativo ne aprirebbe tanti altri, quindi preferisco sorvolare. Gli increduli sciatori che discendevano per la pista in quel momento si videro quindi tagliare la pista da lato a lato da una specie di pazzo accucciato al suolo eppure velocissimo e accompagnato da un gemito sordo (“oooohhhhfuuuuck“) e una scia di sangue a segnare la traiettoria. Tutto effettivamente molto scenico.

A documentare il resto della giornata ci sono due video e tante foto. Il video fatto da mano tremante ma non ancora insanguinata é mio. L’altro, più professionale, é di Gianluca e ritrae me ed Ada.

Un mapazzone

Too bad I don’t have a camera – so these are the only and completely scattered pictures I could secure from friends. They cover the period between the beginning of October up to now. You will find some objects, a couple of landscapes, and four cool flatmates – a bit of everything, a pastiche, un mapazzone.

Weekender: meet my Florentine family

florentine family

Hello mister, pleased to meet ya

When I opened this blog, one of the main purposes was to keep track of the people, the places, the things. Pictures are a good way to do that. Then I realized it was getting harder and harder. Systematically sharing pictures became impossible. We now have such a proliferation of images and I receive daily feedbacks from Instagram, Facebook, Picasa, Twitter… It has become impossible to keep one tidily ordered library with all the pictures I would like to remember.

So my selection here on the blog reflects this feeling of rhapsodic disorder. It is a scattered collection of pictures that help me focusing on what happened between January and now. Not too much, honestly. There are pieces of Stefania, Anna, and friends. A lot of time in the house, maybe because I love it and I love my flatmates. And then some beautiful places blossoming in Spring between Florence and Ferrara. Summer will be more hectic, anyway.