Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: canadians

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.

Memoria di ragazza.png

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.

Limonov.jpg

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.

Staccando l'ombra da terra.jpg

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.

Looking for the Jasper

Eighth edition of our NYE ( UtrechtInnsbruckFirenzeDen Haag, Berlin, Turin, Stockholm) with the false Canadians in the 18th arr. of Paris. Notable participants: Iris, Stephanie, Noa, Arianna, Lorenzo, Jasper. Special invitees to be included in our tenth edition: Jack, Justine, Sylvan, Gianmarco.

Some take aways. Jasper made a last minute appearance on December 28 and then badly injured his leg surfing down the Sacre Coeur a couple of hours into 2019. Crutches are cheap, though. We tried to eat more vegan food than usual but it was not easy: we will keep trying. Museums are good. Some of us snore really loud. We still enjoy spending time together: cooking, playing board games like nerds, eating, walking, and chatting our worries away.

Lagom

Ho trascorso sette giornate corte e tutto sommato non troppo fredde tra Stoccolma e Kiruna. In Svezia ho ritrovato il cuore del gruppo canadese con cui ho celebrato sei degli ultimi sette capodanni dal 2011 a oggi, sempre in una località differente: Utrecht, Innsbruck, Firenze, l’Aja, Berlino (non c’ero), Torino e Stoccolma, per l’appunto.

Gennaio in Svezia: le giornate durano poco più di sei ore. In questa stagione dell’anno la capitale è vivibile, ma poco appariscente. L’unica eccezione è la metropolitana, colorata e allegra. Due aggettivi piuttosto inusuali per una realtà sotterranea.

La sera del primo gennaio ho preso il treno per Kiruna assieme a Jasper, Giallu e Nicolas. Dopo quindici ore siamo arrivati in Lapponia. Neve e buio: siamo nel periodo dell’anno in cui, da quelle parti, il sole non sorge mai. C’è, tuttavia, una bella luce crepuscolare tra le nove della mattina e le tre del pomeriggio. La provincia di Kiruna è grande quanto la metà dei Paesi Bassi ed è stata costruita all’inizio del Novecento attorno a un insediamento minerario scavato nel cuore di una montagna. Sfortunatamente per i loro discendenti, i primi abitanti di Kiruna hanno costruito le case proprio sopra la vena mineraria. E così adesso il centro cittadino rischia di collassare nel sottosuolo. Il governo ha da poco cominciato imponenti lavori per trasportare la città e la sua bellissima chiesa in legno costruita in tradizionale stile sami venti chilometri più a valle entro il 2025.

La vista di Kiruna al mattino è memorabile. Una montagna tozza e larga, costellata di luci sfocate nel buio e nella neve. Abbiamo alloggiato in una piccola casetta nella foresta, parte di un insediamento gestito da un uomo finlandese e sua moglie spagnola. Abbigliamento largo e caldo affittato da Patrick – big is warm. Il primo giorno ci siamo regalati una gita con la motoslitta per oltre quindici chilometri fino all’albergo ghiacciato di Jukkasjärvi. Posticino suggestivo: in ogni stanza dell’albergo è alloggiata un’opera d’arte in ghiaccio realizzata da artisti con una formazione molto diversa tra loro: interior designer, scultori, fumettisti, pittori… Ogni stagione, in tarda primavera, l’albergo si scioglie e viene poi ricostruito l’inverno successivo in maniera differente. Apparentemente, la sua struttura è purissima: l’acqua del fiume da cui viene preso scorre alla velocità giusta per permettere al ghiaccio di essere privo di gas.

La sera abbiamo passato alcune ore nella sauna e poi davanti al fuoco. Il giorno successivo abbiamo fatto sci da fondo, poi siamo ripartiti. Altre quindici ore di treno. A Stoccolma abbiamo ritrovato Niels e abbiamo visitato Fotografska: un grande spazio fotografico con esibizioni francamente mediocri.

Vi aspettavate un colpo di scena finale? Peccato.

2018: resolutions

Go ski touring in Switzerland. Finish the Ph.D. in style. Improve my French. Memorise twelve poems: one per month. Cook. Read one, big classic of Russian literature. Reunite Dani, Jonas and Tosan. Collect whiskey and photography books. Go sailing. Avoid developing an addiction for the pipe. Continue fencing and playing tennis. Race with the bike. Drink alcohol with Anna, visit Tirana. Hike with my parents, with Giallu, with Nicco. Travel outside Europe, meet Thomas. Spend some days with the Canadians, possibly in Istanbul. Get married. Nervous laugh: I was kidding on that last one.

Let’s be ready

Few have been the posts I have published here in the last couple of months and this is due to a variety of reasons. Three of these are more important than the others and I want to discuss them with you.

First off, this space was born for myself, my family, and some close friends. In the last ten years of my life I have moved frequently, so this is a good instrument for communicating what I do to all those people who are nowhere near me. The problem is that the number of readers has grown over time. I think this has to do with the fact that nowadays some of my posts pop out on the search engines. Several of the people who read what I write barely know me or do not know me at all. This has changed my approach: at the beginning, this space was a conversation between me and my friends, now it feels like talking to an audience. Too often, this awareness has stopped me from writing, because, you know, certain posts read by the wrong kind of people are like a piss against the wind. Anyways: this is not how it was supposed to be. From now on, this blog becomes a conversation between me and my friends again.

However. My work has changed over the last semester or so. I am completing my Ph.D. dissertation and this is depleting all my energies. It is not so much about the amount of work – sure, though, that is a lot and I have started again to work until the wee hours of the night, just like when I was a student. Rather, it is the type of work: it feels like I am living in my mind the whole time. This makes it hard to communicate with others – personally and impersonally. This will come to an end soon. But not yet.

For now, my dear reader, I have one good advice for you. Invest in your friends, for they are the cornerstone of a rich existence on this planet. The quality of your life depends so much on them. I like the kind of curious, ironic, resilient people; but maybe you will be looking for something different. It doesn’t matter. Once you know that you have found people who make you feel good, keep them close. You can do it even if they are far.

Below you will find some pictures we took during our sixth new year’s even reunion with the Canadians plus and then some other pictures from a weekend with my florentine brothers. This weekend, really. All these pictures were taken in Torino, where I am living now. You know how they say about Mahomet and the mountain.

Traditions matter

The most gracious book I read recently is a fictional diary: at the end of each year the writer makes a list of friends – new, old, and lost ones. I have started thinking in those terms. Last year I kept my closest friends here; also made some new acquaintances from whom I can probably learn a great deal should I manage to keep up with them (P. B.; L. B.; F. M.); I tightened my bonds with four friends who have an enormous importance for me (T. L. A.; N.d R.; N. S.; M. L.); and I weakened my bonds with a few other friends with whom I should have been more present (M. M.; M. V.; J. H.).

More specifically on this last point, last year for the first time I have not spent the end of December with my Canadien‘s crew after a streak of four memorable reunions – 2011 Utrecht2012 Innsbruck2013 Florence2014 the Hague, 2015 Berlin. This is no good.

For next year I must continue to make new acquaintances, but I also want to restore ties with some old friends. Oh fate, let it start from the Canadien family, because this is one of the most important things I have been part of since I have become a person of alleged maturity.

2016: resolutions

Take up cooking again. Talk to strangers, make new friends. Keep reading books; and maybe read some poems too. Distill and trade. Spend time with Camilla and Isabella. Volunteer, much. Start and finish a Gran Fondo. Teach one more university seminar. Write three chapters for my Ph.D. dissertation. Become part of something – NGOs? cycling clubs? freemasonry? Hike with Manuel, Mindo, and Giallu. Learn something new – something practical, possibly. Try to read and practice the spiritual exercises of Ignatius. Drink whiskey with Martin and Niels. Travel outside Europe. Meet the Canadians: Iris, Joe, Jasper. Write Thomas. Avoid weddings – except Nele’s. Be present. Make a plan for life. Visit Aosta.

Meet Thomas

Thomas has been a constant presence on this blog. I wrote about him one of the very first posts. No wonder: I decided to start this blog shortly after returning from Victoria, Canada, where the two of us met in 2011. He was such an inspiring presence and I could go on for long, but I won’t. There is only one thing you need to know: there are people you meet, and I meet people constantly, but there are some of these people you meet and you immediately realize they will become an important part of your life. Thomas was one of them, and so were Iris, and later Manuel, Mindo, Dani, Giallu, and Jonas. Anyway. After I left Canada, Thomas and I met again only once, in Denmark. That was 2012 and now you see why to keep a blog can be quite handy at times. Thomas kept popping up: his letters, his poems, or some other stuff. He is now moving to Europe for a few months and he will be living in Italy, in Florence, in our house. Funny how it feels like a football club announcing the signing of a top player. But in fact this is about a very good friends with whom I am finally crossing path again.

Kaasplankje

You know that feeling when you do something and you are happy you did it but you also know, deep inside, that you never ever want to do that same thing again? That was exactly my feeling on January 1st 2012 after the big dive in the Nortern Sea, The Hague. Legendary, but also painfully cold and borderline unbearable.

Now I did it again. And it felt great! (In fact, it didn’t. It was as cold as the last time, windier, and on top of that all I forgot to bring my underwear for the after-dive). But ehi: I am glad I spent yet another NYE with the canadian crew after a messy journey through Austria and Germany. I am now reporting from Rotterdam harbor with Thomas and Clement. I will try to reach a couple of European capital friends in the next few days before getting back to work.

2015: resolutions

Go ski touring. Keep playing tennis. Start beating Fabio, Giallu, and Martijn at tennis. Write three good chapters for the Ph.D. dissertation. Publish one paper I can be proud of. Teach in high schools. Enjoy Florence with Thomoose. Buy a typewriter and use it to write letters. Spend time with Camilla in London. Bring the Ladybirds to the Coppa Pavone. Keep reading The Economist. Read all of the seven 1000-page classics of the literature books I bough last month -just kidding. But seriously: read at least three of them. Take the Dolomiti del Brenta Tour with Manuel, Mindo, Dani, Giallu and sleep under a sky full of stairs. Visit Prague, Beirut, and Jerusalem. Work and volunteer in Israel. Volunteer abroad with Legambiente, anyway. Run half a marathon in less than 1h45′. Spend my fifth new year’s eve with the Canadians. Keep writing. Also on the blog.