The book "The Baron in the Trees," by Italo Calvino is about the Baron Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò, or simply known as Cosimo, spent almost all of his life living up in the trees of Ombrosa after refusing to eat the disgusting plate of snails that his sister had made for the family dinner one night when he was twelve. Cosimo kept to his word "I'll never come down again!" (Calvino 13) and he never set foot on the ground again. Cosimo was not bound to one tree though; he was able to travel to many parts of Ombrosa by tree, and lead a very adventurous and full life. The main point of my essay is to discuss the ongoing relationship between Cosimo and the environment.
Cosimo cared deeply for the environment in which he lived, and to get a better understanding of what the setting and environment was like in the eighteenth century of Italy, I will describe it as best as I can. The city of Ombrosa was located in the northern region of Italy near Lombardy. This region is located near the Alps so there was a cold alpine climate in the winter with warm, sunny summers, many lakes with rivers leading to them from the Alps, and big valleys great for farming. The area during the eighteenth century Italy was filled with "thick dense forests" (Holmes 31) ; Biagio, Cosimo's brother, describes some of the thickest and biggest forests in Ombrosa to be the "whole length, from end to end, of the gulf of Ombrosa and its valley right up to the mountain crests" (Calvino 28) which meant there had to have been more than a few hundred miles of pure forests for him to travel. There were many different types of trees such as: cork oak, breech, lemon, cherry, almond, peach, holm oak, plum, apples, carobs, mulberry, knobby walnut, and olive trees. Cosimo could travel great distances by tree; he once journeyed two days only by tree to the town of Olivabassa to see the Spaniards who had been banished to the trees. He also traveled and explored many parts of Ombrosa when he first moved into his new kingdom of the trees.
During the eighteenth century, due to the industrial revolution and the advent of steam power and other modern devices the once lush and plentiful trees of Italy had, were cut down in order to fuel the fires, create more power, and drive the revolution. In the closing paragraphs Biagio states "trees seem almost to have no right here since my brother left or since they have been swept by this frenzy for the ax." (Calvino 217) And that the arrival of the French and Napoleon's army, the chopping of the trees went on. There are very few forests left in Lombardy as they were described as in the book, if any. According to The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Lombardy is now "the chief commercial, industrial, and financial center in Italy, and Lombardy is the country's leading industrial region." This would explain why people decided to cut down the trees in order to help make way for the growing economy.
Cosimo's relationship with the trees...