Carlo Collodi published the first Pinocchio story in 1883, introducing the puppet and his extending nose to Italian audiences.
Although Disney’s version from 1940 featured the same basic premise as the original, Collodi’s Pinocchio was a dark fantasy tale that posed an entire different world than the story that was embraced by families and children throughout the 20th century. In Pinocchio Park, near the town of Collodi, visitors can wander through this dark world, envisioned by the original author. Born Carlo Lorenzini, his pen name was actually taken from his mother’s place of birth, Collodi, Tuscany. Today, a park near the town pays homage to the writer and his story.
In 1951, the concept of creating a monument to Pinocchio was presented, and 84 artists from around Italy submitted works for approval. Although only a few were chosen, the Pinocchio Park was born. In 1956, the park opened its doors, featuring a wide range of artistic expressions of the classic story. As the park evolved, artists added a number of mediums, working with mosaics, statuary and even fountains.
The most popular work in the park is the fountain of the Terrible Dogfish, a creature envisioned by Collodi and portrayed as a whale in the Disney film. Visitors can actually stand inside the monster to simulate the capture of Pinocchio by the great sea beast. Given the variety of the works, Pinocchio Park works to properly portray and honor the great story Collodi penned before the turn of the century.
Walking the winding paths of the Park, visitors can lunch amidst the adventures of the wooden hero in the Land of the Toys and Pinocchio Village. Each detail of the park is meant to involve visitors in the classic tale. As a word of warning for vain tourists, telling lies on the park’s premises is not advised.