I consider myself a romantic scientist. I do science primarily because I believe that understanding the laws of nature and generating new knowledge are the purest forms of realisation of the human intellect.
I love the thrill I get when a new idea sparks my mind, I solve a crystal structure or I engage in a scientific discussion. This is the main drive that has kept me pursuing an academic career, ever since I started doing research during my Masters.
Besides loving fundamental science, I also recognise that scientists have a social role and should always work with the purpose of improving people's lives and solving global problems. The issues I try to address with my research, which belong to the broad area of energy and environment, are important to me as an individual citizen, even before than as a scientist.
I firmly believe that science needs openness and free sharing of ideas to progress. I enthusiastically support ChemRxivTM, the online repository for chemistry preprints.
I was born in 1983 in Umbertide, nearby Perugia, in the Italian central region of Umbria. My family has been living for generations in Lama, a small village of 2500 people located close to Toscana and Marche. I feel profoundly bound to my hometown, my lifelong friends and the surrounding countryside.
I am married to Carla, whom I met in Switzerland. She is an architect, therefore I seldom talk about science when I am home, which greatly contributes to keep a healthy work-life balance. This does not prevent her from providing precious early feedback about the clarity and accessibility of my scientific talks. As a result, she now knows lots about MOFs. We have two sons: Riccardo Nicola (born 2016), an energetic little punk with a temper and a bright future as an entertainer, and Alessandro David (born 2018), who is already mocking his brother's performances and stealing the stage. I value the time I spend with my family and I limit as much as possible working long hours and working on weekends.
My greatest passion (even before science) is music. It all started in 1997, when I fell in love with The Verve and their "Urban Hymns" album. Shortly thereafter, I started playing guitar, which greatly contributed to expand my musical horizons. When I was younger, I used to listen to a lot of hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock. Growing up (or getting older?), I moved more in the direction of blues, folk and singer/songwriters, Over the years, I have attended dozens of live concerts and festivals, enjoying the performances of a number of international artists. In 2012, together with a good friend, we traveled to the US for an on-the-road musical pilgrimage from New Orleans to Chicago, with stops in the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Nashville and St Louis. I have been playing guitar in several bands, covering a range of styles including hard rock, punk/rock, blues, acoustic folk, Irish folk. I own one acoustic guitar, four electric guitars and one ukulele, but lately I hardly have time to play even just one of them.
My favourite sports to practice are mountain biking, basketball and snowboarding. My favourite sport to watch is basketball. Given the very low interest for basketball and the absence of proper mountains for snowboarding in Wales, the only sport I practice with a certain regularity is mountain biking. Since I moved to Wales, I started cycling to work (except when the weather is particularly miserable). Besides keeping me fit and reducing my ecological footprint, this has proven very beneficial for my creativity: most of the ideas I've had recently were born during a commute. I have played in my hometown football team for many years when I was younger, but I quit when I started University.
I love to cook dishes of the Italian tradition and I like to invest considerable amounts of time to prepare food. I am not a patient person, but I am happy to use some extra patience if the reward is a good meal. I tend to be quite intransigent when it comes to food: no pineapple on pizza, no cream in carbonara, no pasta as a side dish. My wife and I often fantasise about opening a restaurant someday.