Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: london

A Villan

Aston Villa Football Club, also known as Villa, The Villa, or The Villans, is a professional football club based Birmingham. The team is among the oldest football clubs in the history of English sports and it is famous for having exhibited a surprising determination in remaining in the Premier League over the last twenty years without winning a single trophy. Mind you: though unimpressive it can seem on the outside, this is a club capable of hiring players who say stuff like: I’d like to play for an Italian club like Barcelona (Mark Draper) or Allegations are all very well but I would like to know who these alligators are (Ron Saunders).

So I have been timidly supporting the Villans for the last few years. I think it all began when Marco spent a brief period in Birmingham and provided me with some excellent merchandising – notably, a very fin claret scarf that I love to wear when I attend any kind of sport event, regardless of the team. This, in fact, has caused some troubles when Fiorentina played against Torino, a team whose colors are alarmingly similar to those of the Villans.

The reason why I am writing about this now is twofold. First, over the last few months I came to the realization that my social life luck goes hand in hand with the destiny of the club. January and February were highly unimpressive months for me and it was in that period that Aston Villa lost every single match they played. However, as March arrived, the team rebounded and got a couple of impressing victories and I, too, started having a much healthier social life again. This, I believe, is a discovery of the utmost importance, which is likely to have some practical consequences on my future strategic planning. If Villa is playing Chelsea, say, I will probably be obliged to spend a few days shut at home to avoid the cataclysmic personal consequences following an embarrassing defeat. But the very reason why I am writing this now is I am currently in Birmingham. I am here to attend a conference which, at the moment, seems everything but a career changer. I am leaving for London tonight and I will be meeting Marco, Francesca, Isabella and Camilla. So I am on a good track to start working on one of my new year’s resolutions. Go, alligators.


I have 15 more days to make the decision of where I want to spend the next 3 years of my life. At present, I was offered funded positions in Budapest, Edinburgh, London, Ottawa, and Victoria. Other may still come up. To make up my mind I am following this essential set of rules.



Nicklas Bendtner is an average football player who now plays for, or occupies one position in the bench of, Juventus FC. In Italy he first became famous last Summer, because Juventus snatched him from Fiorentina at the last minute, when he was already on a plane for Florence. But here’s another story on Bendtner which is worth telling.

For me the story starts in December 2012, when I was in Utrecht for new year’s eve 2012. It was then that Marco made me discover a cocktail named B52. It is a layered shot composed of a coffee liqueur (Borghetti or Kahlúa), an Irish Cream (Baileys Irish Cream), and a triple sec (Cointreau). Arguably, the name comes from the B-52 Stratofortress, the US bomber in use after WWII. It was a particularly appropriate cocktail, as it was invented by a bartender in Banff, Alberta. But here’s the funny story behind it. The cocktail was not really famous in Europe until 2009, when Bendtner, who by then was playing for Arsenal, changed his shirt number from 26 to 52, thus earning himself the nickname “B52” in the process. After the Dane scored the winner in a league cup tie with Liverpool on 28 October 2009, Northern London bars reported a huge surge in the popularity of the shooter. On Wikipedia you will find the story of a barmaid at The Bailey pub on Holloway Road, who made a big deal of that goal: “It was mayhem. One lanky bloke ordered shots for the whole bar after he [Bendtner] scored. I didn’t even know how to make a B52.”

It was blue

Today I am in rainy Edinburgh after spending four days in an unusually sunny London, where I met Tommaso (my host), Matia, and Susanna.

Back home – for a bit

I got home. It is time to move on after:

  • the ancient graves of Greyfriars, the Old University buildings and the good conferences of rainy Edinburgh;
  • the hipster boutiques of North Laines, the Pier made for old people, Queen’s park, and the good presentations of sunny Brighton;
  • the beautiful Regent’s Park, the crowded Camden Town, and the always cosmopolitan streets of cloudy London;
  • the less-beautiful-than-expected Place Flagey and Ixelles, the quite-ok Le Chatelen, the exaltation of the interns, and the beer of messy Bruxelles (yeah, I did not go crazy for the city);
  • the quiet seaside of Santander (not much, really);
  • the total devastation of Kobetamendi*, the modern architecture, the surfing beach of Sopelana, the homosexuals, the Casco Viejo, Deusto and the surfing hostel of rich Bilbao.

Interestingly enough this long virtual trip from Northern to Southern Europe began like this:

… and finishes like this:

*looking back at BBK, the best gigs were definitely those of Ben Howard, Mumford & Sons, Noah & the Whale (all three excellent as expected), Bloc Party (even better than expected), Radiohead (fairly good and not expected), Sum 41 (still good, but less than expected).

London and goodbye

This visit to London was very quick so I decided to focus on two places I did never have the chance to explore before: Regent’s Park and Camden. I must say Regent’s was stunningly beautiful, maybe because the weather was fine enough and it was Saturday so lot of people were around. Camden was pretty cool too, but way too touristy. I went there with the firm intention not to buy anything, then I bought four books and I had a hard time compressing everything in my 10-kg Ryanair bag.

Final two notes from the London: I thought there would have been a lot of positive tension about the Olympics; instead I found only a few advertisements and parties, but nothing too much exciting about it. And the underground, what a disappointment it was: I went out at Swiss Cottage where I always imagined there was a beautiful house in the middle of a big oak forest, but there was a lot of traffic. The same happened at Holland Park, which I imagined full of windmills, and at Morning Town Crescent, which I thought was sort of an idillic place populated by elves, fairies and dwarfs. What I learned was: never trust the Underground in London, it lies.

UK Coast to Coast

Most of the people dream about doing a coast to coast in the US.

Tomorrow I’ll have my chance to experiment a different kind of Coast to Coast: the vertical mode UK crossing. The plan is simple. I leave from Edinburgh (near the northern shore of the UK, in fact it is pretty cold up there right now), where I’ll attend a conference at the University, to go all the way down to Brighton, English Channel, where I have to attend another conference at the University of Sussex. Then I’ll end up in London, just to give a proper goodbye to the British land.

I will fly on very low cost planes, I will sleep in shattered hostels, and I will travel on slow buses. It’s going to be a tough trip, but hopefully a grand one.