Italo Calvino was born in Santiago de Las Vegas, a suburb of Havana, Cuba in 1923. His father, Mario, was a tropical agronomist and botanist who alsotaught agriculture and floriculture. Born 47 years earlier in San Remo, Italy, Mario Calvino had emigrated to Mexico in 1909 where he took up an important position with the Ministry of Agriculture. In an autobiographical essay, ItaloCalvino explained that his father "had been in his youth an anarchist, a follower of Kropotkin and then a Socialist Reformist". In 1917, Mario left for Cuba to conduct scientific experiments, afterliving through the Mexican Revolution.
Calvino's mother, Eva Mameli, was a botanist and university professor. A native of Sassari in Sardinia and 11 years younger than her husband, she married whileshe was still a junior lecturer at Pavia University. Born into a secular family, Eva was a pacifist educated in the "religion of civic duty and science".] Calvino described his parents as being "verydifferent in personality from one another",]suggesting perhaps deeper tensions behind a comfortable, albeit strict, middle-class upbringing devoid of conflict. As an adolescent, he found it hardrelating to poverty and the working-class, and was "ill at ease" with his parents’ openness to the laborers who filed into his father's study on Saturdays to receive their weekly paycheck.] Early life andeducation
In 1925, less than two years after Calvino's birth, the family returned to Italy and settled definitively in San Remo on the Ligurian coast. Floriano, Calvino's brother who became adistinguished geologist, was born in 1927.
The family divided their time between the Villa Meridiana, an experimental floriculture station which also served as their home, and Mario's ancestral land atSan Giovanni Battista. On this small working farm set in the hills behind San Remo, Mario pioneered in the cultivation of then exotic fruits such as avocado and grapefruit, eventually obtaining an...