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Trees, the unknown soldiers of our time

To the trees that fell in July in Milan (and in many other Italian cities and towns) due to the violent wave of bad weather, journalist Michele Serra dedicated one of the episodes of his daily column "L'amaca," published in the pages of the newspaper la Repubblica. He titled it "The Unknown Soldiers," to emphasize how trees in a city often do not have a name, except for insiders. They are trees and that's all: therefore, those that have fallen and piled up become unknown militia.

Yet, Serra reflects, "even if generically tree-shaped, they are anything but the same-the texture of the wood, the extent of the crown, the outline of the leaves, the color of the bark, the longevity." About animals we know a lot, sometimes everything. We can tell the difference between a dog and a horse. "In the great talk about nature, environment, climate, it would be nice ," the journalist argues, "to recognize, as a first point, that we know nothing, or almost nothing. And start again from the Abc, slowly, as teacher Manzi did in It's never too late to remedy the illiteracy of our grandparents."

And speaking of trees, their history and their peculiarities, there is a 2022 Marsilio Arte publication-small but valuable, including in its illustrations by Guido Scarabottolo-titled "Trees. 30 fragments si history of Italy," edited by Annalisa Metta, Giovanni Morelli and Daniele Zovi. A small volume released on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name held at M9, the Museo del '900 in Mestre. It is a journey to discover our peninsula, its past and present, our vices and virtues, thanks to the "iconic" trees encountered. From the maple tree of Monte Tranquillo to the pon-pon olive tree. An exciting and informative read. "There is no tree without history and no history without trees," Michelangelo di Giacomo of the Museum of the 1900s writes in the preface. And telling and reading about trees is always worthwhile. Perhaps more so now than ever before.

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