The article seeks to examine the various ideological meanings of the first national Arbor Day celebration in Italy, promoted by education minister Guido Bacelli in 1899. It begins by exploring the American origins of the celebration, linking the first Arbor Days to their original context of modernization of the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. It then tackles the Italian experience arguing that the ‘Festa degli Alberi’ (Arbor Day) represents an interesting case study in the context of the crisis of legitimacy experienced by the Italian monarchy at the time. In the aftermath of the celebrations for the 50 years of 1848, we see an interesting juxtaposition, in the same symbolical space, of homages to the monarchy and references to the democratic tradition of the Risorgimento. Finally, it examines the agrarian ideology animating the celebrations, and suggests its reactionary nature vis-a-vis.
Keywords: Arbor Day, agrarianism, national celebration, Baccelli, school, enviromentalism