Giovanni Pascoli was born at San Mauro di Romagna (in his honor renamed "San Mauro Pascoli" in 1932), into a well-to-do family. He was the fourth of ten children of Ruggero Pascoli and Caterina Vincenzi Alloccatelli. His father was administrator of an estate of farm land of the Princes Torlonia on which the Pascoli family lived.
On the evening of Aug. 10, 1867 as Ruggero Pascoli was returning home from the market at Cesena in a carriage drawn by a black and white mare (una cavalla storna), he was shot and killed by an assassin hiding in a ditch by the road. The mare continued slowly on her way and brought home the body of her slain master. The murderer was never apprehended.
Giovanni Pascoli had a tragic childhood, struck by the murder of his father and the early deaths of his mother, sister and two brothers, and the subsequent financial decline of the family. The father's assassination echoes in particular in one of his most popular poems, "La cavallina storna" . His whole first work, Myricae (1891), reflects his unhappy childhood.
In 1871 he moved to Rimini with six of his brothers. Here he made friends with Andrea Costa, and began to participate in Socialist demonstrations. This led to another key event in Pascoli's life, his brief imprisonment inBologna following a protest against the capture of the anarchist Giovanni Passannante, who attempted to killHumbert I. Pascoli composed an Ode to Passannante, which he tore up soon after reading it during a socialist gathering in Bologna.
Pascoli studied at the University of Bologna, where his teacher and mentor was Giosuè Carducci. He graduated in 1882, and began to teach in high schools inMatera and Massa. He lived next to his sisters Ida and Maria, in an attempt to renew the original family, building a "nest" (as he called it) for the sisters and himself. Although he was almost married, it is speculated that he never did because of an immature and perhaps ambiguous relationship with his sisters.