Everybody knows the story of the wooden toy who turned into a real boy, by the “wish upon a star” of his creator. But did you know that this wonderful message of love, trust and believing in your dreams is Tuscan? The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by the Tuscan writer and journalist Carlo Lorenzini, known as Carlo Collodi. The pseudonym was chosen as a tribute to his home town, which is now the setting for a Pinocchio theme park, where the visitors can admire a statue of Pinocchio, the fairy of Emilio Greco and the square of the mosaics of Venturino Venturi.
His Pinocchio was first serialized in a children’s newspaper in 1881 and turned into a book in 1883. Carlo Collodi includes many references to the characters and locations of Tuscany in the text: for example at the gates of Florence, between Sesto Fiorentino and Osmannoro, there are some places linked to Collodi and his Pinocchio. Villa Il Bel Riposo, the place where Carlo Lorenzini spent a long time as a guest of his brother Paolo, from where the writer could see the Country of Balocchi (the fair), the Osteria del Gambero Rosso and the blond girl who, in his imagination, would become the Fairy with Turquoise Hair.
The “Great Sea” in the book is nothing but the swamp that covered the Piana dell’Osmannoro and that stretched between Sesto Fiorentino, Campi, and Brozzi. The part of the story in which Pinocchio is hanged by the murderers, on the other hand, would be set in the province of Lucca, near Gragnano.
In Florence, one stop is mandatory to transport you into Pinocchio’s tale: the Bartolucci store, in Via della Condotta, 12 or in Borgo de’ Greci 11. There you will find cuckoo clocks, marionettes, figurines, coat hooks, carillons, children toys of many kinds and, of course, Pinocchio himself, with whom you can sit and take a picture to eternalize this beautiful memory.