Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
House on the hill. Place outside Turin where Corrado seeks safety from air raids on the city. The relative safety of the distant suburban hills moves many people to spend their nights outside the city in temporary quarters. Corrado takes lodgings in a hilltop owned by Elvira, a middle-aged woman who tends his needs with an anxiety that betrays her interest in marrying him. Although the hill on which Elvira’s house stands is only one hill location among many, it is the one that best allows Cesare Pavese to illuminate his character’s ambivalence about the Italian political landscape, by showing Elvira’s reactions not only to the events of the day but also to her boarder’s views about them.
Le Fontane. Rustic inn located below and at some distance from Elvira’s large house to which people of a lower station in life go to avoid the dangers of Turin. There, Corrado encounters his former lover Cate and her young son, Dino. In Dino, who he imagines may be his own son, Corrado finds both a companion and a reflection of himself as a boy. Accompanied by Corrado’s dog, Belbo, Corrado and Dino roam the woods, where Corrado passes on a knowledge and love of the natural world that is both scientific and deeply personal. In the scenes of Corrado and Dino abroad in the woods and fields, Pavese achieves a lyricism that contrasts effectively with the anxious tone of much of the novel.
The inhabitants of Le Fontane are peasants and workers who do not enjoy the detachment of well-off people like Elvira. Among them are partisan fighters whose presence ultimately condemns the entire group to arrest and perhaps execution. Le Fontane is the most uncertain of refuges and the first to collapse.
*Belbo. Corrado’s name for his home village, where he seeks refuge at the end of the novel. He travels there, southeast from Turin, in a tensely wrought account of risky, clandestine travel. In this region Corrado still finds his true life of the forest, as he dreamed of it as a boy. However, he knows that the war will soon find its way to Belbo, and that then, even the “melancholy” and “solitary” will agree to make war.
Pavese himself was born in San Stefano Belbo, one of several small towns that take their names from the Belbo River flowing northeastward from the hills.