Keywords: Rosario Villari, Farmers, Galvano Della Volpe, Antonio Gramsci, Questione meridionale.
This essay covers the biography of the young Villari through his own autobiographical texts, his writings from the years 1943-1953, and a series of testimonies intended for a book/ interview. The reconstruction of his formative years casts light on Villari’s interest in the literary and philological studies undertaken at the University of Florence – an interest he cultivated even after he transferred to the University of Messina where, in 1947, he took his degree in philosophy under the guidance of Della Volpe. The transition from literature to philosophy was accompanied by his political and journalistic commitment in Reggio Calabria in the aftermath of the fall of fascism. His profile as historian began to take shape only in the early 1950s, after his participation in the land occupation movement.