Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Abruzzi (ah-BREWT-see). South-central region of Italy near the eastern coast of the country, along the Adriatic Sea. An area of plains, hills, and mountains, it is the setting for all the volumes in Silone’s Abruzzi Trilogy. It is a poor area of marginal farming and small villages and embraces a traditional way of life. Since Silone’s intention was to write about Italy’s poor during the period before World War II, the Abruzzi proved an appropriate place in which to set his stories of cafoni, or peasant life, since largely it had remained socially, economically, religiously, and politically traditional, a land of estates on which the people eked out a meager living from the unforgiving soil. Most of the peasant tenants lived in one-room hovels with their livestock, who provided a source of warmth during the winters. The Abruzzi was also rather isolated, and since one of the main themes of Fontamara is about the disruption of the local traditions caused by a remote Fascist government in Rome, it proved a congenial setting for Silone’s social realism.


Fontamara. Typical Abruzzi village, containing some fifty dilapidated dwellings grouped around a central piazza with a church, nestled in the hills between the mountains and the Fucino plain. Its people are traditional peasants: poor, superstitious, and isolated. As in the other Abruzzi novels, the locals are depicted as...

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