Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: martin

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.

Migrare

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.

A glorious week

So a couple of weeks ago I went skiing on the Dolomites with Giallu, Martin, and Thomas; and then, right afterwards, we traveled down to Rome to watch the disastrous rugby match between Italy and France.

Skiing was absolutely perfect and, as I wrote elsewhere, May the god of the skiers be eternally blessed for these glorious days up in the mountains where I used to come as a kid with my parents and I am now sharing with some of the finest friends I have met along the way. The trip to Rome was pretty messy, although it was good to be in eternal city and meet Sara, Paolo, Andrea and help Pierre moving back to Rome. At the end of the day I will remember this hectic March week with enormous gratitude for the weather, the mountains, the sport and, most importantly, for my humble friends whom I have met in very different occasions and yet they all fit together so grandly.

Because we are all very narcissistic and occasionally lazy, we took a lot of pictures and even a couple of videos (one and two) when we were on the mountains. But then in Rome it was rainy and crappy and we only took a few shots. I am putting everything online now to satisfy both my ego and my mother: the latter has been asking for some documentary evidence for the last few days, the former will gladly provide it now.

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.

Learn to fly

This morning I sent some random songs to Martin – namely: Francesco Guccini’s Cirano and Andrew Bird’s entire repertoire. Touchingly, this is how he replied:

Mi piace molto Andrew Bird, mi ha fatto pensare a questo proverbio conosciuto nella mia scuola internazionale a Grenoble:
if you want to touch the sky
fuck a duck and try to fly.

Christmas with Alkistis

Alkistis!

So this time around you are spending Christmas in Florence. Because we know you like to write, each of us selected one short piece of writing we thought you might like. The guys picked poems, the girls wrote something themselves. And then we took a picture of us, including our nice or not-so-nice faces and a snapshot of what is with us: be it a pair of skis, a teddy bear, or a Cuban politician. May this inspiring company help you prepare the way for new stories to be lived.

Anna, Camille, Jonas, Lorenzo, Martin, Theo

Il coraggio in politica

Nel suo ultimo articolo Bernard Guetta, un noto giornalista francese, scrive che Angela Merkel non ha alcun diritto di dare lezioni di coraggio politico al resto dell’Unione. La solidità tedesca, spiega Guetta, sarebbe dovuta soprattutto all’eredità del socialdemocratico Gerhard Schröder, l’uomo delle riforme economiche e sociali che hanno trasformato la Germania, malata d’Europa, nella potenza di oggi.

Ho mandato l’articolo a Martin, un cristian-democratico di ferro dall’italiano impeccabile grazie ai suoi trascorsi a Milano nel 2008 e, più recentemente, a Firenze con me*. Riporto a seguire la sua interpretazione:

E’ vero che la Merkel è stata fortunata perché durante la maggior parte del suo mandato l’economia della Germania è andata (e sempre va) molto bene. Il fatto che la Germania va bene risulta delle riforme di Schröder e di altri fattori strutturali su cui la Merkel non ha avuto nessuna (o poca) influenza. Gestire un paese che va bene è senza dubbio più facile che gestire per esempio la Francia in questo momento.

Dall’altro lato mi sembra che la Merkel abbia gestito più o meno bene la crisi economica sia in Germania che in Europa. Nel risolvere la crisi ha preferito un approccio pragmatico e step-by-step che mi sembrava adattato ad una situazione di crisi complessa e incalcolabile. Meglio questo approccio prudente che una visione troppo ambiziosa (soprattutto visto il fatto che la visione esorbitante di unificare l’Europa attraverso una moneta unica è all’origine di tutta la merda in cui ci troviamo attualmente). ​

* Spulciando vecchi post sul questo blog ritrovo innumerevoli foto del Nostro, in cui appare via via sempre meno composto: dalle prime foto di settembre e ottobre 2013, quasi impeccabile, alle più recenti, versione sbraco, risalenti alla scorsa primavera. Una simpatica analogia con lo stile adottato da Martin nelle sue risposte scritte e l’uso delle parentesi finali.

Firenze – Fiesole – Firenze

So there is one thing in particular from my 2014 resolutions I really wanted to do and have not managed yet: the half marathon. Only problem: there is no chance of finding a half marathon anywhere near here at this point of the year. So I have decided I will go for the only run possible, which turned out to be a bit harder than a half-marathon.

Firenze - Fiesole - Firenze run

The Firenze – Fiesole – Firenze run is 16.5K, with a 370 elevation gain that makes it is a real tough uphill race. It is on the 14th of December, five days from today. Not much time for proper preparation. BUT! this shall be done! I found five brave volunteers who will run with me: Ludvig, Pauline, Niels, Martin, Giallu. Everything considered, my (our?) target is to finish it. To nail it in less than one hour forty-five would be nice.

Stuff I have been reading in 2014

Seriously? Last time I wrote about the books I read was one year ago. Since then I have bought a lot of books, I have started many of them, and I have finished only a few. I think we are still talking about a dozen or so. Would it make sense to list them all? No, it wouldn’t. So I will only cite the three books that one way or another have had the greatest impact on this little mind since it moved down to Florence.

The book number one – in strict chronological order – should be Open, by Andre Agassi. Yes, it’s a best-seller, but unlike other best-sellers it is well written and it gave me that little incentive to start playing tennis consistently. I had rarely played before, maybe ten times in my whole life if we exclude the countless hours I spent bouncing a ball against the wall of my house back when I was a kid. (That, I in restrospect, can be qualified as low-quality squash at best). So I read Open by Agassi and it made me appreciate some distinguishing qualities of tennis, namely the feeling of being completely lonely on the court, the pressure and psychological challenge with your opponent, the fear. I started playing right after finishing the book and made it a habit to go twice a week with my loyal companions – Martin, Martjin, Pierre, Fabio, and Giallu. I haven’t improved much (guess I am not up for the psychological challenge yet?), but I am enjoying every part of it.

everything but tennis players

Then came another book about sport, endurance, psychology, and distress. Contrary to what you might think, The Damned Utd is not about Manchester United. Instead, this is a brilliant story about Brian Clough’s brief spell as manager of Leeds United football club in 1974. The book, that was suggested to me by Old Tom, is quite crisp. After reading it I watched the movie and realised that I genuinely liked the actor, Michael Sheen. I therefore started watching all his other productions, including the highly ingenious TV series Masters of Sex, and I am currently planning to watch the Blair trilogy. In the end, because of one single book I spent dozens of hours in front of my laptop. Not necessarily good, but certainly fun.

After two entertaining books it is time for something a bit more depressing. Ill Fares the Land is the last book published by Tony Judt before dying at the age of 62. Written under the debilitating effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Ill Fares The Land is the political manifesto of one of the greatest contemporary historians of our time. This is a compelling read advocating a return to social democracy. I have been recommending it to virtually everybody. Unlike Postwar, the 1000-page Judt’s masterpiece, this is a book everybody can finish in a couple of days. After finishing it I moved onto The Memory Chalet and Reappraisals, thus continuing my personal discovery of this outstanding academic who writes marvellously about things that I find passionating.

 

Memorie fiorentine di popolo

Back in the days there was a method, in my photography. Now the method is all gone. I took about twenty-twentyfive completely random pictures in my first two florentinian months. It is not easy, but if you can read through them you will learn a lot about yellow submarines, storms, spectacular falls, my attraction for the Germans, and much more.

 

The two pictures taken from the university are not mine, but Rosie‘s – who doesn’t even know me. I hope she won’t mind.