Everyone on the planet knows the story of Pinocchio; however, not everyone knows that the famous wooden marionette’s story began almost 140 years ago in a small town in Tuscany. It all began here in the town of Collodi (Pistoia province) and today, young and old can visit the town and a theme park dedicated to perhaps the most well-known fictional character that was ever created.
The “Real” Pinocchio
Pinocchio’s story begins in 1880 when Carlo Lorenzini (who later took Collodi as his last name) began writing about the allegorical tales of a wooden puppet- The Adventures of Pinocchio– which was published in a weekly Italian children’s newspaper. It was so popular that he decided to publish it into a single book. Since then, it has been translated into 300 languages, made into countless films (including Walt Disney’s 1940 version) and productions and remains one of the best-selling books in the entire world.
Visiting Pinocchio Park
Pinocchio Park is located in the lovely Tuscan town of Collodi near Pescia (known for its flower market) in the Pistoia province. The Park is a perfect outing for families with young children or even literature buffs who are curious to know more about Pinocchio’s origins.
Within the lush park, there is a museum with interactive touchscreens, rare copies of Pinocchio and lots of artwork. From there, your adventure begins as you explore the beautiful park with all the original elements represented in various forms from gigantic statues to elaborate mosaics. There’s even a giant whale that allows you to climb inside its mouth. To top it all off, there is also a restaurant as well as a gift shop for an authentic souvenir.
Garzoni Gardens and the Butterfly House
Just outside Pinocchio Park, you can also visit the fantastic Garzoni Gardens and villa. Carlo Collodi’s mother actually worked here as a young girl and the villa has been compared to the Reggia di Caserta for its beauty. Wander through the vast gardens appreciating the citrus varieties, labyrinths, statues, and water fountains while imagining what it must have been like in Carlo Collodi’s time.
Within the garden is the prized Butterfly House which is a must-visit for all ages! Hundreds of butterflies and birds soar freely about in the protected area where visitors can witness the entire life cycle of the butterfly in real life not in a book!
The entire complex (Pinocchio Park, Garzoni Gardens, and the Butterfly House) are open daily from 10 am to 7 pm with one single ticket. Dogs are welcome.
Visit the official website (Italian only) for more information and updates.
Old Town Collodi
While you are in the area, make sure to visit the old historic center of Collodi which dates back to the 12th century. The Romanesque Church of St. Bartholomew also dates to the 12th century, although it has undergone numerous reconstructions throughout the centuries. The views from here of the entire Valdinievole are fabulous!