Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Leo & Mao

Leo, named after the XV century painter, engineer and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, is a lively and cheerful two-year old boy. He lives in Rome with his two parents, and is one of the main characters of this Blog.

Mao is Leo’s teddy bear. To the eyes of everyone, Mao is just a stuffed animal, but for Leo it’s an anthropomorphic polar bear, much taller and bigger than him, with his own character and personality. Mao is also Leo’s best friend, his adventure companion, the only person to whom Leo tells his secrets and his dreams…

It is not clear whether Mao is named after Mao Tze Tung, the revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China, or as an assonance to ‘meow’, the cat’s call…

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hey baby, do you want to get in my tractor?

No surprises then when Leo presented himself on his first date on his new tractor. “Hey, baby, do you want to get in my tractor?”…

Monday, March 24, 2014

Leo & Emma

E galeotta fu la montagna… (And the mountain played Cupid…)

We already presented some of Leo’s loves (Aude, Luna…) - but these were amorini, little loves. That between Leo and Emma, Germana and Federico’s daughter, seems to be true love.

For the entire vacation they kept looking for each other, playing together, call each other from their fathers’ backpacks!

“Leoooo”, and “Emmaaaa”, like a powerful yodelayheehoo, were the only sounds you could hear in the silence of the Dolomites. And “Where is Emma?” (and, likewise, “Where is Leo?”) were the first sentences pronounced by the two lovebirds as soon as they woke up.

And as the father is a rich banker, we cannot not approve and encourage this relationship…

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Il Mammone II

It is worldwide known that Italian boys are ‘mammoni’ (mummy’s boys, fils à maman). Logic dictates that half-Italian boys should be only half-mammoni.

Well, experience seems to prove rather the opposite. We already introduced our Mammone I.

Here it is Mammone II !

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

What Leo really would you like to be when he grows up

Either the tractor or the caterpillar driver…

We already wrote it: Leo got grabbed into cars last summer: motorbikes, cars, trucks, tractors, caterpillars, excavators, bulldozers… and the bigger and noisier, the better.

These were pretty big…

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How we were (and how we are)

July 2008. That’s how we were: young, handsome, and - above all - fit. I could spend an entire day climbing 6c/7a, Federico could wake up at 4 am on a Sunday morning and spend the whole day backcountry skiing.

July 2013, five years later. That’s how we are: a few grey hair more, a few hair less, and - as M2 rightly predicted in one of his comments - with a heavier backpack on our shoulders…

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ingrid’s dwelling

“For those who wonder where we will spend our next winter holiday weeks […], above the answer…”.

These words, pronounced when Ingrid decided to move from Brussels to Italy in June 2012, choosing San Vito di Cadore as her dwelling, were almost prophetic. ‘Almost’, as it was not our next winter holiday week, but our next summer holiday week that we finally decided to accept Ingrid’s open invitation.

Thank-you very much Ingrid for your hospitality, we really felt at home, and we hope there will be plenty of other opportunities to spend time together. From now onwards, with Maelle as well…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fellowship of the Mountain

From left to right: Federico, Emma, Ingrid, Germana, Leo, Mathilde, Tommy, and Matteo.

For the first time since we have had children, we decided to ‘test’ how spending a vacation with friends was. The fellowship comprised Federico and Germana (and the little Emma), and Ingrid, an old acquaintance of this Blog: the Fellowship of the Mountain.

The experiment was so successful that we are already planning a vacation all together next year!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Let’s resume the reportage on our summer vacations from where we stopped before opening this long parenthesis on Iran:

Concluded my week with Leo, recovered Mathilde and Tommy in Venice, we drove towards north, beyond the Cadore, towards Alto Adige, and we finally stopped in the Ampezzo Valley, right at the heart of the Dolomites, where we spent the second leg of our vacations…

What I do in life...

This short documentary describing our porject in Iran was published on Repubblica TV a few months ago.

Mum liked it because of the close up on my eyes. Mathilde liked it because of the close up on my wedding ring. My father liked it because he could finally understand what I do in life.

But everyone wondered: why on earth were I dubbed?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Au revoir, Iran

Will be back soon, Insh’Allah…

Tastes of Iran

Pistachios Fandoghi, pistachios Kale Ghochi, pistachios Kernel, almonds, nuts, walnuts, dried sultana raisins, raisin Kashmar, barberry, apricots, dates, figs…

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sea food???

-       Shrimp Kebab. Ok.
-       Fried Shrimp. Ok.


-       Steak with Mushroom and Pepper Sauce?
-       Chicken Filet Grill with Fried Mushrooms??
-       Chinese Chicken??? German Steak????

  (Almost as Pizza Afghani...)

And to conclude, Iranian tea and shisha...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Iranian cusine

A combination of rice, lamb, chicken, various vegetables and nuts, fresh herbs used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, raisins, all flavoured with saffron, cumin and parsley.

A concert of flavours!

Italia-Iran, si arriva ai dieci...

On a narrow, leaning, winding street in a remote village of Kurdistan, with a deflated orange plastic ball, as in a Salvatores’ movie.

Iran-Italy: si arriva ai dieci! (the first team who scores ten goals wins!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Knock-knock-knocking on Iranian doors

Women are not supposed to show their hair to male strangers. It is thus compulsory for women to wear a veil in public spaces. But at home, when they are with their family members, they can free themselves.

But what if someone knocks at the door? Well, if the guest is a woman, then there is no need to cover as the prohibition applies only to male strangers. But if it’s a man, then women need to cover themselves.

But how to know if who knocks at the door is a man or a woman?

Well, at the door two doorknockers that produce different sounds are applied. Men use that that produces a lower sound, women that that produces a higher sound.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

Pictures from the field

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Iran on the road

Nota per apprezzare questo post: immaginatevi questi paesaggi con una bella colonna sonora, tipo Eddie Vedder, e rilassatevi…

Traffico a Tehran

“[…] è la terza e più grave di queste piaghe che veramente diffama [Tehran] agli occhi del mondo… eh, lei ha già capito, è inutile che glielo dica… mi veggogno a dillo… è il traffico!...”

Monday, March 10, 2014

Iranian ‘brands’ (2)

Iranian Coca Cola

Iranian ‘brands’

Iranian Kentucky Fried Chicken
Iranian McDonald’s
Iranian Seven/Eleven

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Petroleum Ministry

Gloomy, imposing, inaccessible. And, obviously, forbidden to photograph. In a way, and with all due differences, the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum reminds Star Wars’ Death Star…

The last century’s history of Iran is very much linked to the history of oil in Iran.

Oil was discovered in Iran in 1908 by the British. The discovery of oil led to the formation of the Anglo-Persian company, but by purchasing a majority of the company' shares in 1914, the British government gained direct control of the Iranian oil industry. In 1933 a 60-year agreement was signed between Iran and Britain establishing a flat payment to Iran for every ton of crude oil exported, and denying Iran any right to control oil exports. But in 1950, the at that time Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh decided to nationalize the petroleum industry, and formed the National Iranian Oil Company. Two years later, in 1953, the British and the US governments organized a coup d’état which brought back to power Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, as absolute monarch. The rest is recent history, with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79, the war with Iraq, and, most recently, the US and UN sanctions…

Today, with approximately 150 billion barrels proven oil reserves (about 10% of world’s total proven petroleum reserves), and 4 million barrels daily oil production, Iran ranks at the third and fourth place worldwide as far as proven reserves and oil production is concerned. And just to give you an idea of how important is oil in Iran, oil proceeds represented about one fifth of the Iranian GDP, and accounts for about 60% of total national budget and 80% of the total annual value of both exports and foreign currency revenues.

If these numbers do not make much more sense for you, just do know that - if I well made the currency conversion - a litre of fuel here costs about US$ 0.33 cents!