Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: canada

North of the border

With almost 10 million square kilometres, Canada is the second-largest country in the world by total area*. However, the country’s population is not big at all: with 36 million people, Canada scores far below countries like the United States, Germany, Italy, and France. Furthermore, about four-fifths of the country’s population is urbanized and live within 200 kilometres north of the southern border in cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg. And this you could guess by looking at the picture below: an image of Canada mapped only by roads, streets and highways.

canada roads.jpg

Bonus fact one: there are more roads on this map within 200 kilometres of the US border than there are in the remaining 3800 kilometres of Canadian soil to the north.

Bonus fact two: 59% of British Columbia’s population lives in the tiny bright chunk near Vancouver where I, too, happened to live in 2011.

* the first-largest country in the world is Russia, with more than 17 million square kilometres.

Un anno elettorale

Quest’anno più di altri i miei articoli per Unimondo sono stati scritti a commento di elezioni: Israele, Regno Unito e Stati Uniti, ad esempio, sullo sfondo di commenti su leggi di cittadinanza e populismo. Il trend si è rinvigorito nelle ultime settimane quando ho provato a descrivere la campagna elettorale che ha portato al successo di Justin Trudeau in Canada, prima, e ho giocato ad anticipare lo scenario delle elezioni che si sono tenute in Spagna poi. Le elezioni si sono tenute oggi e domani controllerò se ho preso una cantonata – non sarebbe certo la prima volta.

Je me souviens just part of it


D’après un article (4 fév.), il y a confusion concernant la devise du Québec. Comme vous l’avez écrit, elle est de E. E. Taché. « Je me souviens » n’est que la première phrase [de la devise], ce qui explique peut-être la confusion. La devise va comme suit :

Je me souviens / Que né sous le lys / Je croîs sous la rose.
I remember / That born under the lily / I grow under the rose.

Je suis la petite-fille de Eugène-Étienne Taché. Ma tante, Mme Clara Taché-Fragasso de Québec, est la seule des filles de E.-E. Taché toujours en vie. J’espère que [cette information] éclairera quelques-uns de vos lecteurs.

The text quoted above is a letter sent by Hélène Pâquet in response to an article appeared on The Montreal Star in 1978. Hélène, as she herself explains in the last paragraph, is the nephew of Eugène-Étienne Taché, the Assistant Commissioner for Crown lands in Quebec and architect of the provincial Parliament building. Upon his death in 1912, Taché wanted the motto written above to be carved in stone below the coat of arms of Quebec that appears above the Parliament Building’s main entrance door. So it was done; and since then Je me souviens came into official use. In contemporary Quebec it still occupies so many spaces, including the licence plates of the cars. For many French Quebeckers Je me souviens poetically symbolizes the days of New France (the lily) and the subsequent conquest by the English crown and the Confederation (the rose). Some say that when the French Canadian says “Je me souviens”, she not only remembers the days of New France but also the fact that she belongs to a conquered people.

This story is meant to show you that Quebec is a place of powerful suggestions. I spent three weeks in its biggest and most vibrant city, Montreal, and now that I am back to Florence I can upload some pictures and add some explanations – you will see the explanation if you clic on the picture. I am also going to upload a music video; and I would have chosen a video without any advertisement at the start but then this is by far the best live version of it and it deserves to be seen.

The video is somehow related to one particular thought I wanted to share with you. When I was in Montreal it was Freshers week, which is the time when all new students arrive to university and go pretty crazy celebrating. It is the first moment in their life they are free, and independent, and you can read it in their face. There is excitement, but there is also fear: it is a sense of utter freedom, and utter loss at the same time. It is a passing ritual I love, because in that moment your brain and your heart are clean, so clean and free that you can start from scratch and discover so much and you won’t feel alone because there are so many people around you who are in the exact same situation and you can perceive they feel exactly the way you do. I was lucky enough to be in that kind of situation many times in my life, having changed place and started something new – quite often, already. So every time I would find myself in a situation like this – well, you know, I would share the excitement, and the thrill, and everything that comes with it. Not this time, though. This time I just saw very, very young students, and for the first time in my life I felt I was a bit more mature than they were. I was happy for them, though. But I was not part of it, as I was a passenger riding in the backside. And so I thought of the song, and finally, many year after I first listened to it on the radio, it made perfect sense.


Due miei articoli pubblicati di recente su Unimondo. Parlo di Canada, Stati Uniti, sabbie bituminose, oleodotti e nativi americani.

Up in the clouds

Due anni fa, quando ero in Canada, mi si ruppe l’hard disk senza alcuna apparente ragione, ne tantomeno preavviso. Non avevo fatto un back-up e persi migliaia di foto, canzoni e file – accademici e non. Fu un dramma e ci persi il sonno per alcune settimane.

Ecco, soprattutto ho pensato a questo spiacevole episodio leggendo un post a caso di Francesco Costa.

Five songs and one album

Ieri suggerivo a Stefania di farsi consigliare cinque canzoni e un album da ogni amico, per creare una libreria musicale originale e variegata. Comincio io con cinque canzoni da ascoltare e ri-ascoltare per ricordarsi che ci sono momenti che valgono molto di più del denaro.

  1. Old pine: un fuoco con gli amici in spiaggia durante una lunga notte di luglio.
  2. Long as I can see the light: due scarponi e una lunga camminata per raggiungere un rifugio caldo dove giocare a carte e bere grappa con gli amici.
  3. Radio nowhere: uno zaino Salomon pieno di vestiti sporchi dopo un mese su e giù per un Paese sconosciuto.
  4. Le Vent Nous Portera: un campo di girasoli e il sole della tarda primavera.
  5. How to build a house: un albero nel giardino di casa.
  6. Tea for the Tillerman (album):  non so cosa rappresenti di preciso, ma quest’album mi ha sempre aiutato a essere una persona genuina, o almeno a provarci.

Yesterday I suggested Stefania to seek advice from friends to create an original and varied music library. I’ll start with five songs to listen and re-listen to remember that there are moments that are worth much more than money.

  1. Old pine: a fire with friends on a beach during a long summer night.
  2. Long as I can see the light: two boots and a long walk to get to a warm haven where playing cards and drinking grappa with friends.
  3. Radio nowhere: a backpack full of dirty clothes after a month up and down through a foreign country.
  4. Le Vent Nous Portera: a field of sunflowers under the late spring sun.
  5. How to build a house: a tree in the backyard.
  6. Tea for the Tillerman (album): I do not know exactly what it represents, but this album has always helped me to be a genuine person, or at least to try.

It never rains on Thursday

On Thursday March the 17th in Victoria, BC, Canada, I was feeling grumpy and nostalgic, missing my Irish friends and that one semester I spent in Dublin. In spite of the insistence of mr Peace River, I was not in the mood of celebrating San Paddy’s day. It just did not feel like Ireland. The weather outside was just fine. Obviously, the weather in Ireland was never fine. It was not even close to that Irish gloomy atmosphere and I missed so much.

However, the day after I I got up laboriously. I was hangover and I realized I lost Thomas’ vest. Later it turned out to be Thomas’ friend’s vest. Outside it was a grey day. It was raining and a couple of old men down at the harbour were having a pint. I put on the some Great Big Sea music and spent the rest of my day in the proper Irish mood.


Thanks to Federica for sharing this nice video from UVic, the place where I studied in 2011. By the way, I just got a PhD proposal from there for a place at the Department of Political Science from September this year.

Where the hippies are

Just an amazing infographic I got through Dylan.

So many foreign worlds so relatively fucked

Although Justin Vernon/Bon Iver is from Vermont, his vibe and atmospheres remind me so much of Canada. Listening for the nth-time to his three albums (two albums, one EP) and imaging the cold wind is clearly another sign that Autumn is coming.

No wonder one of the first posts on this blog was a tribute to one of the best songs of the band.

I just came across another video, that was shot in Washington State just a few miles away from my beloved Victoria. The video and the song are metaphors revolving around the spirit of Native American preservation land.


This other video from Creature Fear (not the official video of the song) is exactly how I think back of the few days I spent in Denmark with the Canadian crew this summer. Just so you know.