Do you remember the tale of Pinocchio?
Perhaps not everyone knows that the stories of the little wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy were born in Tuscany.
Pinocchio, the Talking Cricket, the Fairy with Turquoise Hair and all the others characters of "The Adventures of Pinocchio" were invented by the Florentine writer Carlo Lorenzini, known with the psedonym of Carlo Collodi (taken from the name of his mother's native village).
And in Collodi, a small town not far from Pistoia, you can visit the very original Pinocchio Park dedicated to the famous long-nosed marionette.
The park is set up completely outdoors. Walking inside the large garden, surrounded by the well-cared after vegetation, you’ll find all the main protagonists of the story: Pinocchio, the Fairy with Turquoise Hair, the Cat and the Fox and many other characters from the novel virtually accompany visitors and remind them some of the most relevant passages of the book.
Fantasy reigns here
The Park of Pinocchio is an enchanted place, with an almost retro style atmosphere. So do not expect special effects or high technology attractions (at least not much more than several fountains with a few water games installed). Here, the offering is to stroll among several great bronze sculptures and others works by several artists that have been added to the garden ever since it first opening in 1956 up to today.
The park’s magic is due, in my opinion, to the same charm of the tale of Pinocchio, still alive in the hearts, memories and imagination of all children and adults.
One of the most beautiful attractions of the Pinocchio park is without a doubt the great dogfish shark (transformed into the cutest whale possible in Disney’s version of the tale) that, in the story, first swallows Pinocchio’s father, Geppetto, and later the boy puppet as well. Overlooking a pretty pond, this large concrete animal emits long splashes of water at regular intervals.
You shouldn’t miss entering the shark! After a quick zig-zag between its large and "sharp" teeth, you will be straight in the shark’s belly. Then going up a few but narrow steps, you’ ll come right up to the head of the animal, where you can enjoy a beautiful view all over the garden.
A very nice corner we recommend finding is the little ivy maze, where children and playful adults can have fun competing to get out first.
Dedicated to the youngest, you’ll find some traditional carousels, didactic laboratories organized by the park’s staff, a little puppet theater, a castle of ropes, giant chess board and other games around the garden.
Inside the park is both a cafe/bar and a small picnic area, ideal for a meal, snack or short break.
Just outside the garden you’ll find the restaurant Gambero Rosso or other bars for those who prefer a quick lunch.
The entrance tickets to the Pinocchio Park are actually not that cheap (11 euros for adults and 8 euros for kids during high season), but I think the visit is very enjoyable, especially on warm, sunny days that allow to fully live the experience. Free entrance for children under 3 years old.
The Garzoni Garden and The Butterfly House
If you have time, consider combining your visit to the Pinocchio Park with two other nearby attractions: the Garzoni Garden and the Butterfly House, located a few minutes walk away.
The Garzoni Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy: manicured walkways, flower beds, fountains with traditional water games and towering statues will accompany you along a charming and, at the same time, relaxing walk.
The Butterfly House is a large greenhouse where you'll find an exotic garden populated by thousands of colorful tropical butterflies. It is open from March through October.
In high season, a special ticket allows you to visit the Pinocchio Park, the Garzoni Garden and the Butterfly Garden at the cost of 20 euros for the full ticket and 16 euros for the reduced.
You can see more details on the official Website: www.parcopinocchio.it
How to get there
Collodi is a small hamlet of Pescia. To reach it by car from Florence or Pistoia, you can take the highway A11 until the "Chiesina Uzzanese" exit. From here, continue in the direction of "Pescia", and before entering the village, you will find several signs with directions to "Collodi". Arriving in Collodi you can easily find the Park of Pinocchio and an adjacent paid parking.
To get there with public transportation, you can take the train from Florence to Pescia and from there take the local bus to Collodi. You can also get there by bus from Lucca (no need for both train and bus).
Photo credit: the Garzoni Garden photo is by Nooner.