I was born on December 10, 1959 in Milan, where I lived (with the exception of one year ”wasted” after high school in the Italian Army) until the end of my graduate studies at Bocconi University in 1985. I graduated under the supervision of Professor Mario Monti with a thesis on the effects of wage subsidies on unemployment. After graduation I seriously considered the possibility to become an alpine guide also because, while teaching ski-mountaineering in the Milan Alpine Club school, I met my future wife Simonetta: mountains seemed to have much better things to offer than economics.
Perhaps unfortunately, however, my advisor convinced me to apply for a Ph.D. program in the US and I was admitted at MIT, in Cambridge (USA). It was hard to give up this opportunity, and, contemporaneously, the mountains had been giving a very un-welcoming signal in the form of a bad avalanche accident. Moreover, Simonetta received a very attractive offer from the Harvard School of Public Health (on the other side of the Charles river with respect to MIT) which allowed her to continue in a wonderful environment her research on the relationship between diet and cancer. The possibility to go together to the US, working in two of the best research institutions in the world, looked really like ”un segno della Provvidenza”.
The four years in Cambridge were a tough but terrific experience that gave me new tools and new passion for research in labor economics, lots of friends now scattered everywhere in the world and the first child Matteo, born in 1989. The decision to come back to Italy after the Doctoral graduation in 1990 (with a thesis on flexible compensation as a risk-sharing device under the supervision of Prof. Robert Gibbons) was not an easy one. The possibility to continue the US experience was really attractive from a professional point of view, but Italy was at least equally attractive along several other dimensions, including child raising which was expected not to be irrelevant (and the expectation was rational as the events later showed …).
The contemporaneous foundation of two new research institutions in Milan induced the decision to come back: the IGIER research center at Bocconi University, started by Prof. Francesco Giavazzi with the goal of attracting to Italy economists with a foreign Ph.D., and the Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, which was searching experts in epidemiological studies of diet and cancer. These joint opportunities gave a forceful sign that it was time to come back from the States.
From 1990 until 1997, I have been teaching and doing research at IGIER, Bocconi University, while Simonetta has worked at IEO, succeeding, at the same time, to give birth to 3 more children, Martina in 1990, Lucia in 1992 and Giacomo in 1997 (do not worry: we know what contraceptives are …). Both parents also managed to maintain some contact with the Alps, most often bringing along the entire crew (which so far has not complained).
The experience as a Jean Monnet Fellow during 1997 clearly showed that EUI was a wonderful environment where to do research and teach. Very luckily, Florence also proved convenient for the working opportunities of Simonetta, at the local Istituto per lo Studio e la Prevenzione Oncologica (ISPO), and needless to say it appeared optimal for the kids. The decision to accept the EUI offer and to stay in Fiesole for a longer term was therefore an easy one this time, even if ski-mountaineering is less easy and had to be turned into … mountain biking and sailing. Actually sailing in the Bilancino Lake (FJ, Laser, 470) and in the Mediterranean became a new family passion with which everybody fell in love. The passion culminated in the recent acquisition of one third of Pandora, a Sun Odissey 37, which we share with close friends.
In October 2006, the term at the EUI came to its natural end, but Tuscany had too many pleasures to offer, including two new activities: olive oil growing at the Fangaccia, the new property that we bought in 2006 with the hope of coming to live here, and wood working with the lathe I received for my 50th anniversary.
Nobody in the family wanted to move, and therefore I had to search for a suitable job nearby. I was very lucky to be accepted in the Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche of the University of Bologna where I found another wonderful environment of colleagues and students. No more biking to and from work, though: this is what I regret the most.
A new vacancy in the Econ department of the EUI and here I am again: biking to and from work is back!
In the meantime the kids grow up and begin to leave the nest: Matteo for a Phd in marine biology at the University of Southampton (UK), Martina for the Medical school of the University of Padova, and Lucia to study molecular biology at the San Raffaele University in Milan. Giacomo is the only one still at home.
One would not believe it, but after 12 years the Comune di Vaglia finally gave us the permission to renovate the “Cubo”, our family nickname for the ruin we bought in 2006 alla “Fangaccia” in Pratolino. And now we are finally in a setting that we can consider our real “HOME”. It was sad to leave the Palazzaccio that hosted us for 20 years, but we love the light and the architecture of our new house.
The original plan, in 2006, was to live here with the kids, but while waiting for the Comune di Vaglia to make up its mind on our renovation project, they are all gone now. Matteo is sailing around the world where the wind (and his boss) takes him, Martina is a pediatric surgeon in Milan, Lucia is doing a PhD in molecular biology at UCLA and Giacomo is studying mechatronic at the Politecnico di Torino.
So: many empty rooms at the Cubo, which wait for all the friends that want to visit us (also because the kids do not come very often: good sign, they must be happy!)