Marcovaldo is an enchanting collection of stories, with both a melancholy and funny
ending, which narrates about Marcovaldo, an Italian peasant who struggles to reconcile between
village habits and urban life (Calvino, Italo, 1997). Oblivious of the town's melodic and dramatic
attractions, Marcovaldo portrays his attentive interest in natural village life. The author of this
story explores the tenacious pursuit of lost domains through Marcovaldo, who longs for escape
from his dreary existence. Malcovaldo is a needy man with his six children and wife living in an
industrial city in northern Italy. However, even with all the City's luxurious life, Marcovaldo has
an affinity with nature and distaste for city life.
In the short story of mushrooms in the City, Marcovaldo develops a humorous interest
after witnessing a mushroom sprout out of pavement. The perfect picture painted from
Marcovaldo's actions is his eagerness to connect with nature; his exaggerated need to bring the
indigenous life to the City. Marcovaldo knew that there many different aspects of having a
mushroom plant in the City, and somehow it reminded him of his culture and beliefs. Mushroom
is ideally seen as food in some cultures, medicine, or as a flower in some. In this case,
Marcovaldo witnessed plants in the City exercise his culture and beliefs and as a source of food.
To Marcovaldo, the mushroom plant is not just a mushroom, but it is more than that. How he
cares for this plant, waters it, and yearns to see it grow. He portrays a jealousy behavior when he
sees that mushroom plant was exposed to the dreadful and dangerous City, yet he delights in
seeing it sprout in such parts of the City. After Marcovaldo ate the harvested mushrooms of the
City, it lands him in the hospital to get his stomach pumped. This shows the ignorance of city
people as he could not think that the mushroom was growing in the grounds of a sanatorium.
The impact of Marcovaldo's addiction to nature reminds me of the childhood encounters
with nature, the patchy yards, abandoned lots, on polluted beaches, all human-affected
ecosystems where the richness, wonder, and mystery of the living world shone through
undiminished. Marcovaldo also shows how dissatisfied he is as he spends a hot summer night
sleeping on a park bench. While many people associate nature and parks with peace, in this case,
Marcovaldo is interested in witnessing or understanding the environment rather than getting a
peaceful experience he had longed for. It is as if he was dreaming. Marcovaldo envisions his
dream sleeping park bench as a fulfilling experience. Still, instead of being peaceful with the
sight, he kept up all night by quarreling lovers, blinking traffic lights, and sounds and stinks of
Besides that experience in the park, Marcovaldo displays a funny character when he tries
to catch the pigeons fighting in his rooftop house. On another account, in the story of "A journey
with the cows," Marcovaldo envisions his Michelino's excursion with pasturing herds up in the
mountains but later discovers that his son has no interest or had no chance to enjoy or witness his
dreamy nature experiences. Life in the City demands his son to work his entire life, which means
that he will never exercise or witness the cultural norms valued by Marcovaldo. It is as if a
dreamy spell had been cast to keep haunting his peace while it ends in disaster.
While at it, Marcovaldo's children break the neon advertisement sign for cognac that had
obscured the moon and stars, only to have the sign replaced by a more significant and a brighter
sign that steals away the entire night. Even though Marcovaldo cherishes anything that connects
him with nature, it also portrays a naïve and foolish character. While he is trying to hold on to
the lasting success and maintenance of culture and embracing nature, he also bleeds from the fact
that city life has corrupted the environment.
In the story of "The lunch box," Marcovaldo brings us the unstable and poor life he is
living with his wife and children. Marcovaldo experiences a great range of emotions while eating
packed leftovers for lunch. Amid this action, he vividly remembers and salivates his wife's
cooking before eating; he also remembers the domestic quarrels, which puts sadness in his heart.
It is saddening to envision Marcovaldo's life as he tries to enjoy the serenity of nature while at
the same time managing around the disturbing, noisy, and quarrelsome life of the City. The
concept of grounded realism is well explained in Marcovaldo's story as the author shifts his
interest to more imaginative stylings while at the same time preserving the narrative subtlety and
The change aspect is well developed in this story as the writer shifts from realistic to
more fictional and fantastic. From the mushroom stories in the City, we witness the stories'
development as they revolve around Marcovaldo and his low and naïve circumstances.
Marcovaldo keeps worrying about putting food on the table or good roofing; however,
Marcovaldo acquires a better life as the story develops. We see that he can tide his motorbike out
after work; his family moves from a basement room to an attic suite. The rising tide in
Marcovaldo's life is somehow shadowed by some form of consumerism, the hollowness of his
life, and the meaningless of his life to people like Marcovaldo. It seems like Marcovaldo's life
was a dream which never gives him joy as he thrives in nature rather than the city life.
Calvino, Italo. "Marcovaldo,or the Seasons in the City, trans. William Weaver." (1997).