The Adventures of Pinocchio captured the hearts of Italian children when it was published in 1883, and later readers everywhere when it was translated into English in the early 1890s. The story of the puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy as he finds himself mixed up in one crazy scenario after another was an important novel for children’s literature, a genre that was beginning to formalize around that time. The book’s author, Carlo Collodi, was heavily inspired by his childhood growing up in Tuscany, and there are many places that pay tribute to him and his beloved puppet. Adults and children alike are bound to have a blast exploring the places tied to the famous novel.
You might be surprised to learn that the author of Pinocchio was not actually born with the surname Collodi. That’s the name of his mother’s birth town! Carlo Lorenzini was born in Florence, but wanted to honour this important place in his childhood, so he changed his name after the town. You probably won’t see everyone’s favourite wooden puppet as you stroll Collodi’s streets – it’s not officially known where the tale takes place – but one day here and you’ll understand why the author was so quick to pay it homage.
Dating to the 12th century, the town is set atop a hill, giving it the appearance of being a “cascade” of homes nestled on the slope of a mountain. Make sure to stop by the medieval fortress and Villa Garzoni, where Collodi’s parents worked and met!
The Pinocchio Park in Collodi is a dream come true for anyone who loved the classic children’s tale growing up. Opened in 1956, families will enjoy a splendid day out as they explore the gardens and the Pinocchio-themed installations found throughout the park. The park is located on the grounds of Villa Garzoni and narrates the story visually, immersing visitors in the plot. The book’s characters are recreated as works of art, like the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair by Emilio Greco and the Terrible Dog-Fish by Augusto Piccoli. Speaking of the monstrous Terrible Dog-Fish, the installation is emblematic of the park’s mission: children can climb inside and on top of the work, for a truly interactive experience.
Children can also play with Geppetto’s wooden toys, test their hand at Pinocchio’s Game of the Goose or enjoy a show at the Marionette Theatre. And of course, you can’t skip a meal at the Red Lobster Inn! But beware: if you see the Cat and the Fox, steer clear! They’re probably up to no good….
If you’re in Tuscany in May, be sure to head to Collodi for…. what else, Pinocchio’s birthday! The event is celebrated with a party in the park.
For one final Pinocchio-centric site, head just a little outside Collodi: the “Quercia di Pinocchio,” or Pinocchio’s Oak Tree. It’s believed that this is the tree that the author was thinking of when he wrote the original ending to his story: Pinocchio is hanged by bandits who try to steal his gold (fortunately, he expanded the book and now it has a happy ending!). The tree became a national monument in 2012 for its importance to Italy’s literary heritage.