Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: france

Northwest, southwest

Quimper. Folk music in the street. Wearing a windstopper in August: how weird. Maelle. Twenty-nine. Julian. The wind. The sky: big, diverse, it reminds me of Ireland. Everything here reminds me of Ireland, really. Crepatao. La Torche. Charline and Pierre. The grey Sunday morning and the paddle competition: nothing like paddling on the lake of Neuchâtel. The sunny afternoon with the easy waves. The Cubist table of our house. In Waves, Algues vertes.

Biarritz. The picturesque roads. Côte des Basques. David. The big waves that I cannot ride: I can only crash on Arianna’s back. The halls. Milady beach. The swell: when at 10 in the morning you have to rush out of the ocean because otherwise you crash on the rocks; and when at 7 in the evening you can walk in the ocean because the water is retreating.

Aria fresca

Early on Saturday morning. Arianna on the bike, myself on a trottinette, half an hour through the empty streets of Paris to reach Gare de Lyon. Other youngsters arrive by bike. They have portable mattresses for bouldering. We take the train to Fontainebleau.

We walk randomly until we reach the Gorges d’Aupremont. Then we head to Barbizon, which became famous after the Barbizon School of painters like Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, and Jean-Baptiste Corot. We note the picturesque main street, the luxuriant gardens, the sophisticated roofs of the houses. 

It is already late afternoon when we leave Barbizon: Fleury-en-biere, Perthes, Saint Sauveur sur école, Avernaux, Saint Fargeau. These villages remind me of my childhood, when I would visit them often, week in, week out. Never in person; in the videogames. Many of them would be based on World War II, and in World War II there is always a moment when you play the American soldier (or, more rarely, the British trooper) advancing through Normandy and then down until you reach Paris in the summer. I know this sounds extremely controversial. Awkwardly, the image of a chill French summer stuck with me.

We arrive at the farm. It is our first encounter with a public space in almost three months. It takes little to adjust. The owners smile often. I am destroyed. Arianna bursts with energy. We have dinner and breakfast in the garden. It feels like I am now living the dream I had during the confinement.

We walk to Ponthierry, then along the Seine to Vosves, and from there to Villiers-en-Biére. We decide to stop there. There is a big field with crops and a park that is completely empy. We nap there. We later discover the park is empty because it is closed to the public to contain the spread of the virus. Ops.

We finish the day with a very long crossing of the forest. After winter and two additional months with ho human beings, the forest is taking control again. Most tracks are completely hidden by the vegetation. Without the map, we would not be able to find and follow them. It feels special to walk in the wild.

We arrive in Bois le Roi and back to Gare de Lyon.

Just a bunch of Englishmen

Niccolò chose the place, bargained for the house, and found the motivation to rein everybody in, including those he did not know previously – and there were many of them. Nico, Thomoose, and Tree flew in from Canada. So did Andrew, who landed in Paris shortly after new year’s midnight. Jasper signed in about a week before, just like we had expected of him; whereas Giallu committed in September and never wavered. Erik and Iris drove from Rotterdam. I flew with Arianna from Treviso. And we all met in Bordeaux.

I remember lavish meals, funky games (Les grammes de Bourdeaux), cold hikes around Saint Emilion, impromptu Dixit games, Jasper going blind with a stick, playing limbo with strangers, Chilean dances, Jasper baking bread, Tee making classy Old Fashioned, Giallu dignifying the Mapazzone (stir people’s culinary curiosity and put them to work), Iris’ write-a-poem competitions, melted Mont d’Or for breakfast, scooter hunting and racing on the cobblestones along the Garonne in four teams of two, La Mirabelle and its petrol blue for dinner.

Then Erik, Giallu and all of our two girls left. We made up for their departure going to la Dune du Pilat and taking our traditional January-swim. The title of this post comes from there: we asked a bystander to take a picture of us. She was quite amused and recorded a video instead, commenting at the very start of it: ‘We are at the Dune du Pilat and there is a bunch of Englishmen about to swim“.

Sweet side-memory of that day: the Jon & Roy & Stevie Ray Vaughan playlist.


The Tour arrives on the Pyrenees today and one year ago I was there to watch it together with Giallu en route from Marseilles.


We did not know what to expect there. We found a colourful and enormous circus that cuts across national origin and social class. This was stage 12 of the Tour with the peloton arriving in Peyragudes at 1,590 m (5,217 ft) and below you will find my photos of the day.

I vinti

In vista del primo turno delle elezioni francesi avevo pubblicato un articolo per Unimondo. Chi di voi si diverte a leggere gli articoli ex post per giudicare l’accuratezza dell’analisi di chi scrive può trovarlo qui.

Human beings at their maximum levels

I am flying to Iceland on June 19th to guide a hike there. I will be back in France in September and seriously thinking of staying in France for at least four months, just chilling, taking a small job, to rest. I was in Iceland last summer and in Finland this winter. I have been four months in Finland doing some snow shoe guiding and learning how to guide in sled dog. It was cool but really exhausting… It broke me a little, psychology and physically speaking. It was psychologically breaking because it was tough. It would be hard to explain everything in a short message but to make it short, I didn’t really do what I came to do. The company wasn’t fair with me and my last internship could have been way better.

The other really difficult part that broke me was the loneliness of the place. Even if it was beautiful (wide spaces are magical, can’t deny it), we were in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere. Like the first town was one hour driving and the only persons i saw during four months were my colleagues and the clients. Anyhow, I don’t regret because I experienced great things: sled dogs, extreme temperature, below zero, etc. Again, I believe that if I had found a girl there, my season would have been way better like the ones guys that did so. Unfortunately for me I haven’t been lucky with that. It is really interesting to live in a isolated place. Human relationships are strong, and like it could be really positive, it can be also quickly intense and negative. Human beings at their maximum levels.

Haha but maybe it’s hard for you to understand all of this, and I must explain it to you when I come see you in Florence.


Why does France insist school pupils master philosophy?

I have been staring in admiration over the shoulder of my 17-year-old daughter, as she embarks on a last mental rehearsal before a much-dreaded philosophy exam. My primary thought is: Thank the Lord I was spared the torment.

I mean, can you imagine having to sit down one morning in June and spend four hours developing an exhaustive, coherent argument around the subject: Is truth preferable to peace?

Or: Does power exist without violence?

Or possibly: Can one be right in spite of the facts?

Read the article on BBC News Europe.

Things that usually happen in a banana republic and in Italy

In Italy the issue seems non-existent, but the UMP’s controversial election in France is a big headline here. For the chronicles, amid allegedly falsified results, disappearing ballots, polling stations with higher tallies than registered voters, and both candidates declaring victory, Jean-Francois Copé has been elected UMP leader, winning over former prime minister Francois Fillon.

Fare cose di sinistra

Soffermiamoci su questo apparente mistero. Lo spread tra i titoli di Stato francesi e quelli tedeschi si è ridotto, da quando c’è un socialista all’Eliseo. Il quale fa cose di sinistra: assume insegnanti, alza le tasse sui ricchi (patrimoniale aggiuntiva). Eppure questo non mette in fuga i capitali, anzi a giudicare dallo spread la Francia di Hollande è considerata oggi più solida e solvibile. Dunque: i mercati non impongono per forza il “pensiero unico” dell’austerity anti-sociale. Del resto, più in piccolo, anche il Belgio è tornato nell’alveo dell’Europa “germanica” secondo il giudizio dei mercati, pur avendo un premier socialista (Elio Di Rupo) e malgrado la fragilità della coesione fiamminghi-valloni. La lezione è che i mercati premiano la stabilità delle prospettive politiche a medio-lungo termine (la Francia ha una maggioranza socialista blindata per 5 anni), e i “saldi” della finanza: se il risanamento si fa a spese dei ricchi come a Parigi, va benissimo.

Rampini, Repubblica