Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: nccr – on the move

The Migration-Mobility Nexus

The last two weeks I worked on the video below together with a group of colleagues and friends at the nccr – on the move. The purpose of the video is to summarise our research using a simple vocabulary, explain how we work together, and show that in such peculiar times we have to come up with creative proposals.

The video is a bit long, my Italian accent is as strong as ever, and some of you might not like its flashy undertone; I do.

Who cares?

On June 29 I presented my Ph.D. thesis in 180 seconds as part of our nccr – on the move event entitled The Migratory Realities of Switzerland in 180 Seconds.

You can also watch the other presentations following this link on our nccr – on the move website.

Can elected politicians have two passports?

I have written a post for the blog of the nccr – on the move, the Swiss research centre I have been working for since early September. The post sets out from the debate concerning the dual citizenship of politicians: this issue has caused a government crisis in Australia and has also been at the centre of the debate in Switzerland. In my post I use two existing datasets, from GLOBALCIT and MACMIDE respectively, to show which countries around the world establish legal restrictions that make it more complex and sometimes impossible for individuals with dual citizenship to stand as candidates for elections. You can click on the image below to open my interactive map.

citizenship-based restrictions for politicians


Following the publication of my post, I have asked other academics to take up the same question from their perspective. You can find a contribution written by Barbara von Rutte here and one by Nenad Stojanovic here.

You can also read these posts in Italian here.

Un cubano

Ieri partita di calcetto con la squadra che ho messo assieme: è la squadra dell’ufficio, Swiss Forum of Migration (SFM), anche se per il torneo ho deciso che ci chiameremo Savoir Faire à Manger (SFM). Perso 8 a 1. Al Bistrò, poco dopo. Arrivo prima degli altri ragazzi perché sono in bici. Mi siedo e aspetto. Di fronte a me due passano due ragazze. Le guardo felice. Poi il mio sguardo incontra quello di un altro solitario avventore, anche lui chiaramente ammirato dalle donne. Attacca discorso. E’ cubano, si chiama Elias. Continua a parlare della cultura e di come lui la venda. Come, non mi è chiaro. Quel che invece è chiaro è che lui conosce ben poco della storia e della geografia e dell’arte; ma all’Havana ha incontrato Lorenzo Jovanotti e Antonello Venditti e si sente quindi un ambasciatore dell’arte italiana nel mondo. Arrivano i compagni: Marco, Robin ed Elie. Proviamo a parlare di noi, ma Elias ormai non si scolla più. Quando Robin racconta brevi storie salaci sul suo erasmus a Palermo, lui allarga le braccia e urla ‘Questa è cultura! Mi commuovo! Piango! Cultura!‘. Capisco che devo andarmene. Elias mi attacca un ultimo torrone sulla semplicità nella vita e l’importanza di essere positivi e fraterni. Queste sciocchezze da hippie squattrinati mi fanno infuriare. Mi congedo; lui dice che mi ha pagato tutte le birre e la cena, ma non è vero. Insiste sull’andare a fare serata assieme a Berna più avanti questo mese. Me ne vado.

Oggi arrivo in ufficio dopo pranzo. Robin mi chiede se ero già andato via quando il cubano ha rovesciato tutte le birre sul tavolo. Marco mi dice che sono un Giuda e che ‘quel cazzo di cubano si è fatto offrire tutte le birre e la cena‘. Elie non vuole più parlarmi.

Penso che regalerò loro una copia di Prendilo tu questo frutto amaro, live all’Havana 1995.


At the beginning of September I moved back to Neuchâtel to work on a postdoc project with Jean Thomas and the rest of the crew that I had met in the Spring of 2016. I must admit was skeptical about the place – never had I been in such a small and lonely community before. But life unravels in unexpected ways: the first weeks of September have been a real springtime in autumn, as Thomoose used to say.

Back in March. I remember a cold, rainy morning in Torino. Niels was about to leave. We had breakfast together and he gave me one piece of advice: hit the ground running. During my first days in Neuchatel I signed up for pretty much anything one could think of. And to be honest with you, the place has been treating me really well these weeks. Much of it, of course, has to do with the people: not only Jean Thomas, but also the other colleagues whom I knew already, and those who arrived after I left.

A couple of stories about my inburgering. When moving to any Swiss town you have to register with the commune – it really reminds one of 1984. In exchange, you are given a permit, an introduction to the life in the local community, and a voucher to buy some medicines in the pharmacy. True that: since Neuchâtel is next to a nuclear production site the government has decided that all inhabitants must have in their houses a box of pills that will save us in the event of a nuclear holocaust. And until that happens, we distract ourselves with football. Last Wednesday I went to watch the match of the local team, the Neuchâtel Xamas, playing against the Geneva bunch, Servette FC. Those of you who have my age will know both teams, since they played against some Italian sides in the UEFA European Cup during the 1990s. Now they are on top of the Swiss second division. Good match, everything considered. Neuchâtel Xamas won 3-2 with a winner at minute 92’. On the same day, Djanni got a humanitarian permit to stay in Italy, so we celebrated.

Value art more than success

Lucerne/Olten, June 26

This morning I hopped on a train. I had decided to spend the entire day roaming randomly from one town to the other, familiarizing to a very Swiss habit: living on a railway. I though of this as the proper opportunity to wish farewell to those things and people that have become part of my life in the last three months, since the moment I first moved here. So I am going to do it now: this is what comes to my mind when I think back of my time here.

Trains, indeed. Switzerland is a country of commuters. Trains here are a bit like the tube: people use them every day, because they are so comfortable, frequent, and fast. And, of course, Swiss cities are on average pretty small, so it’s easy to walk everywhere once you are in the train station. So trains, that’s one thing I will miss. I, myself, traveled to la-Chaux-de-Fonds, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern, Geneve, Lucerne, Interlaken, and a lot of small towns. These were silent, peaceful, and scenic rides. I hope more of them will come in the future.


I will remember the army kids in the train stations. They are so many. I guess that is because each male citizen below 35 has the duty to serve for something like three weeks each year. This must be reason why youngsters in their uniforms are a common view in this country. They keep their hands in the pockets and smoke, talk, drink. It is a funny contrast, because their youth and small rebellious acts defy the nature of the uniform they wear.

I will enormously miss the Black Office and regret I did not spend more time there. It is here that I learnt the basics of how to fix a bike and it is also here that I was able to exercise my proto-French without much fear. I have great respect for the idea of helping people to fix their bikes and the sense of community based on good-will I found there.

And then there are all the other small things that are so stereotypical and true: the cows I met during my long rides across Romandie; the watch-makers in La-Locle; the weird blend of languages, which I find somehow exciting; the general sense of hospitality; the rare days of sun on the lake; the local beers, like BFM; the green fields and the mountains, which unfortunately I have not explored; the bizarre monuments in the cities; the Portuguese immigrant community of Neuchatel, providing each morning pastel de nata and coffee; and the counter-cultures, like the anarchism of the Black Office, the bike messengers, the rural communities of Jura, and the urban movements of Zurich.

I will remember fondly the office and the environment that welcomed me there. I got a lot of work done and I like to say that it is because there is not much social distraction in Neuchatel. But this was also because the nccr has provided me with so many resources – it was a genuine pleasure to dig deep into them. Apart from work, many colleagues also proved to be kind friends. Running the risk of not making justice to all, I will remember Marco, Stefanie, Flo, Eva, Valentin, Robin, David, Rorick, and Alice. And, of course, Jean-Thomas, who has done much to integrate me, both professionally and socially. I already knew his attitude; but it is only after these three months together that I have come to know his values and personality. It has been an education.


In the end, my most vivid images are those created during my long rides in the countryside of Romandie. Neuchatel was much more alive seen through the lenses of two slim wheels. Perhaps I, myself, am a bit like a bike: balance only comes when I am in motion. So there I go again, off to new uncertain beginnings. Because without them the heights would not feel so great, would they?