Carlo Collodi, the author of the story of Pinocchio, was the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini, who was born and grew up in Florence. The "Collodi" of his pen name was the name of the Tuscan village where Lorenzini's mother was born.
You can easily visit Collodi, where you'll find Il Parco di Pinocchio a Collodi, the Pinocchio Park of Collodi. It's a rather old fashioned kind of park from the days when you didn't need bloodcurdling death-defying rides to charm the kids.
The park tells Collodi's version of the story of Pinocchio through sculpture, mosaics and puppet shows. It features a museum with Pinocchio related items.
Beware that Collodi's version of Pinocchio is inspired by the commedia dell'arte, and it's a much a darker, complex, and socially relevant tale than the Disney adaptation; like many classic childrens tales, it is both lively adventure and adult social critique. You might want to read the Collodi's version before you go. There is a web version in English by Page by Page Books that you can access from the linkbox above.
Collodi, located in the Tuscany region of Italy, is about midway between Montecatini Terme Spa (10 km), and Lucca (15 km), and not so far from Florence (60 km). Take highway 435 heading east from Lucca towards Florence to find Collodi. Lucca is a recommended destination as well (walk the walls around the city!)
Collodi's other great attraction is 17th century Villa Garzoni, which is located across the street from Pinocchio Park.
The steeply sloped land around the Villa offers a cascading garden merging the geometric symmetry of the Renaissance wtih the spectacular effects of the Baroque. The garden contains the last remaining labyrinth among Lucchese villas as well.
Pinocchio Park, Collodi
Entrance Fee at time of writing: 12 Euros (6 Euros for 3-14 and over 65 year olds)
Tickets for groups (20 person minimum) 8 Euros Each
Here is the Hours and Tickets page (In Italian) .
There are spaces in the park to have bag lunches, and there's also a restaurant, the Osteria del Gambero Rosso, inside the park.
Finding Pinocchio Hidden in the Hills
Sure, Carlo Collodi wrote Pinocchio, but who was the best illustrator? The answer lies in a little known corner of Italy--Vernante--the last home of the definitive illustrator of Pinocchio, Attilio Mussino. Vernante is between the sea and the Maritime Alps in the Piemonte region.
Like Collodi in Tuscany, the city of Pinocchio, Vernante has become "il paese dello zio di Pinocchio," the town of the Uncle of Pinocchio. Here in 1989 two townspeople started to paint murals based on Mussino's work, transforming the walls of houses into treasures of the imagination, an outdoor memorial to the work of the master Mussino.
Stroll the streets to absorb the story of Pinocchio; there are murals all over. Vernante is a charming little town in any case,set in a narrow valley surrounded by the Alpi Marittime, the Maritime Alps.
Tip: Before you leave Vernante, stop in for a sip of tea (or something stronger) at the Pub "Il Cavallino" in the piazza de 1'ala 20.
You won't believe your eyes. Il Cavallino is an authentic Irish Pub. The owner has a passion for all things Celtic, including music. He speaks English and is glad to be able to practice on you--and he's a wealth of information on the history and festivals of the region.
From Vernante, you can visit the Maritime Alps Park, or head on down the coast to Liguria. Another town I enjoy in Piedmonte is Cuneo to the North. Click for a map and vicinity information.