Why not take a day to discover the historic town of Pescia and its world-famous puppet, Pinocchio? Many people might not know that the story of the marionette who wanted to become a real boy is actually set right here in Tuscany. In honour of the author, the town of Collodi, whose name Carlo Collodi, born Lorenzini, adopted as his own, is home to many places connected to the beloved fairy tale and its varied cast of characters.
This is an essential part of any visit to Pescia. It can be found in Collodi, a historic village which looks just as it did a century ago, with a small group of houses leading up to Villa Garzoni and its 18th-century garden. It was here that Lorenzini’s mother was born, and where the author spent his childhood with his grandparents. Visitors to the park can discover life-size versions of all the characters in the book, like the Fox and the Cat, the Fairy with Turquoise Hair and the Terrible Dogfish.
With over 200 varieties of citrus fruit from all over the world, this is a unique botanical garden. It houses Medici collections, rare Eastern varieties and new plants from the Southern Hemisphere.
The garden in itself is a beautiful work of art, with games, waterfalls and geometric structures in perfect harmony with the plants and flowers. Napoleon himself is said to have stayed in the villa, which is also known as the Villa of One Hundred Windows. The garden houses the Collodi Butterfly House, a magnificent stone building and greenhouse where more than a thousand of the most wonderful butterfly species from around the world fly freely.
A local market still takes place here, in the heart of the town, every Saturday morning. It’s entirely surrounded by Renaissance and Baroque buildings and is closed off to the north by Palazzo del Vicario and to the south by the Church of Madonna di Piè di Piazza, a 15th-century building by Andrea Cavalcanti that was commissioned by the Galeotti family and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.
The medieval town is divided by the river, which splits it into two distinct areas: one with the cathedral and another with the Town Hall. Historic palaces and churches are scattered throughout the centre which, despite undergoing several changes, still retains its original character.
The 14th-century Palazzo del Podestà holds an extensive plaster cast collection dedicated to Libero Andreotti, who was from Pescia and one of the greatest Italian sculptors in the early 20th century.
Founded in 1241 together with the adjacent convent, this church has a single nave and three chapels. At the end of the nave is the famous altarpiece by Bonaventura Berlinghieri, which dates to 1235, depicting St. Francis and six episodes from his life.
This 14th-century church contains beautiful woodworks from the ‘I Santi Brutti’ Tuscan-Umbrian school and, in the main chapel, 15th-century frescos by Bicci di Lorenzo.