Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: paris

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

An iconic bridge, which I did not really know until I took the photo below. It crosses the Seine, just steps away from the Tour Eiffel, passing through a small island, the Île aux Cygnes. I sent the photo to Erik, who gave me a few tips on how to improve it. Here is what he said:

A couple of things that comes to my mind. To attract more attention to the silhouettes, it would be best to have just that in the frame. Everything else is a bit of a distraction. In order to get that, you have to have a telelens or crop the picture. Here the blackness of the bridge is the border of your photo, the frame. Alternatively, if you don’t have a telelens, or you really like the bridge to be recognized by the viewer as a bridge, then it is best to show the whole situation. As a viewer I get an understanding of what is going on. And most importantly, some perspective. Because of the foreground, like the tree and the bushes down low. When you only want the silhouettes in frame, there is less need of perspective. Because there is less distraction.

I followed this advice, cropping the picture as suggested. This is the result.


My first hike of November 2020, together with Jimmy and Luca. It could have been worse.

I would like to add to these photos another one that I did not record on my camera. In the picture there would be three middle-aged men sunbathing at the crossing between Rue Norvin and Rue du Mont-Cenis: this year, the area around the Sacre Coeur looks like a little village on top of a hill. So very different from any other time of the year, when the mass of tourists gives it a different look. A few youngsters drink wine at the window. Elderly joggers stroll in the street.

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.

Libera uscita

Bois de Vincennes, Bois de Boulogne, Asnières-sur-Seine, rue de l’Abreuvoir.

Luca, Marco, Estelle, Marco, Jimmy, Francesca, Jean Thomas.


On Thursday March 12th I went to see Andreas in Vevey. We climbed up a Dent with the skis, ate a soup, and then I headed home and packed some clothes. On the evening I was at the Reithalle in Bern to watch Perro Bomba, as part of the movie series organised by Christina and Lisa. I sneaked out of the room to watch the televised speech by Emmanuel Macron. The next morning, very early in the morning, I hopped on the train from Neuchatel to Paris. I breathed a sight of relief upon arriving at Gare de Lyon. I had spent the entire week worrying that the French government may close the borders abruptly, tearing Arianna and I apart.

I remember going to L’Odeur du Book on Saturday. It is a small bookshop managed by an Italian couple. I bought a big volume, Visions du sport – Photographies 1860-1960, and read it at Le Timbale. Three young men on the table next to mine were drinking Belgian beer and playing a complicated board game. Outside it started to rain.

It was an open secret that the French government was going to impose a lock-down soon. The rest of Europe had looked at Italy with contempt when the government introduced draconian measures in the weekend of March 9th; just like Italy had looked at China with contempt between January and February. That weekend I was skiing in Leysin with Yvan, Jean-Thomas, Maria, Quinn: on Saturday evening I could not get myself away from the phone upon hearing the news the Lombardy was to be quarantined within 12 hours.

The French government had decided to wait before imposing the lock-down to allow the first round of the municipal elections to go ahead. The elections were due the weekend I arrived in Paris. Arianna and I had dinner in the house with Luca and Marco. We bid farewell. The next day, Macron announced the lock-down.

I spent the following two months working on my presentations and indicators. Together with Arianna, we grew a little garden in the kitchen; and we ran up to the Sacre Coeur every evening at 19:00. At 20:00 we would be on our balcony clapping with the neighbours: the young couple in front of us, the elderly lady with a dachshund (Toby) visiting her friends on the ground floor, the elderly homosexual couple with elegant colourful clothes further down the street. Bizarrely (for Paris), the sun shone through the entire lock-down: it felt like we were living in a warm Mediterranean city.


A few weeks ago, the lock-down was gradually lifted. The applauses disappeared gradually, too. A few die-harders continued to clap every evening at 20:00. They slowly decreased in number, then one week ago the applauses stopped altogether. The posters advertising candidates of the municipal elections are still hanging on the streets. I suppose that taking them down is not considered an essential activity. Awkwardly, it still feels like that grey electoral Saturday of mid-March.

Earlier this week, the government finally allowed bars and restaurants to open their terraces again. The first day of opening, Tuesday, was magnificent. I realised how much I had missed the feeling of reading in the sun, with people around me. In a classic French ironic twist, on Wednesday evening a thunderstorm brought mayhem on the city. The temperatures have dropped to 10 degrees and it looks like it will be raining for the next seven days or so.

Passage Cottin

Due corsie con corrimano in mezzo, centoventi gradini che salgono, una rampa ripida, stretta tra case piuttosto malridotte. E’ giorno, luce limpida e tersa, ma sono comunque caratteristici i quattro lampioni in stile belle époque. Sulle finestre di una casa sono stesi a prendere aria dei panni bianchi. Ho annotato ‘a prendere aria’ e non ‘ad asciugare’ perché le scale sono per lo più in ombra. Nell’unico squarcio soleggiato, verso la cima della rampa, sta seduto un ragazzo, ingobbito a leggere. Indossa una maglietta rossa e ai suoi piedi c’è uno zainetto, rosso pure quello.

Ci sarebbero altre due dettagli importanti che una fotografia, anche solo immaginata, non può catturare: il rumore di un allegro spadellare che esce da una piccola finestra lungo la rampa; e il puzzo d’urina che ricorda la doppia identità, diurna e notturna, di questa rampa di scale.

Tre piccioni

Non amo i piccioni, animali goffi e paurosi. Oggi però ne ho trovati tre capaci di ispirare simpatia. Facevano il bagno davanti alla fioreria che si trova in fondo alla strada dove abitiamo. Li guardavo mentre facevo la coda al panificio, un panificio sempre molto frequentato. Come gli altri avventori ero goffo, con la mascherina e gli occhiali appannati, mantenendo le distanze in maniera innaturale (un pò come in questo cartoon del New Yorker). Loro, i piccioni, erano a mollo nell’acqua che usciva abbondante da un tombino. Sembravano in spiaggia, contenti e perfettamente a loro agio.

Parigi, fin qua

Le stazioni ariose e illuminate. I panini al burro e prosciutto. Le boulangerie con tanti prodotti salati. I mercatini dell’usato. I bistrot a pranzo. La bourguignon. I tavolini rotondi dei caffé. I fotografi. I formaggi per dessert. La voce delle persone che fanno gli annunci nella metro. FIP radio. Il cielo in primavera e in estate. Il colore delle case in primavera e in estate. Le pubblicità delle mostre nella metro. La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin e le sessioni del pomeriggio.

Place Ornano

Place Ornano, Parigi. La corteggio da molto tempo. Ci sono passato davanti una mattina, all’alba, mentre andavo in piscina. Non è famosa, ma ha qualcosa di speciale. Sembra un set di Wes Anderson: simmmetrica, piccola e alta, elegante, con un solitario lampione al centro. La trovo bellissima; ma è in ombra, impossibile fotografarla. Ci torno il giorno dopo alle 12: la piazza è invasa dalle piante della fioreria all’angola. Sempre bella, ma con tutto quel verde viene meno quell’originale sentimento di romantica solitudine. Riprovo la sera: le piante sono tornate nel negozio ma la piazza è nuovamente in ombra. Torno una terza volta la domenica alle nove di mattina. Niente: il fioraio è aperto sette giorni su sette, ancora quelle maledette piante. Una combinazione impossibile per i fotografi: quando c’è la luce ci sono anche le piante di mezzo, quando non ci sono le piante la piazza è in penombra. Questa piazza non vuole lasciarsi fotografare nella sua nudità.

The outsider steps inside

In my mind, the colour of  Paris between November and March is grey. Then in April it suddenly changes. Spring is a phenomenal season and I love the combination of ivory and cobalt blue.