“C’era una volta un pezzo di legno …” (“Once upon a time there was a piece of wood …”). There is hardly a child who never heard this saying in childhood. I am pretty sure that most of you, as parents, prefer to read Carlo Collodi’s “Adventures of Pinocchio” to your little mischievous kids before their going to bed. But what would you say if this fairy-tale with all of the characters becomes live? You’re saying it’s impossible?! Hmmm …It’s quite possible and I will assure you of this. You’re wondering how. It’s simple. Just go to …
C O L L O D I
The little town of Collodi is situated in extremely beautiful Tuscany. It’s hidden among the rows of cypresses and vines and it offers a true journey back to your childhood. If you’re not a fan of driving, just like me, but you desire to visit it, you’ll have one other “Italian train-and-bus fairy-tale” while you are trying to reach this tiny settlement. If your starting point is Pisa, you’ll enjoy a journey by train that lasts about an hour. (Should I mention that it’s great fun to use Italian trains that are almost always late?) After that you will have an hour and a half break in Pescia. No worries it’s not that bad because even, we – early birds, get hungry and this is the most suitable time for us to have un cornetto and cappuccino for breakfast near the station.
I L P A R C O D I P I N O C C H I O
After having got refreshed (and I’d better say, after having waken up), get on the specialized Pinocchio Tourist Bus arriving from Montecatini Terme. It will take you to il Parco di Pinocchio (the Pinocchio Park) only in 5-6 minutes because the distance Pescia-Collodi is not more than 4 kilometres. Reaching the town, monuments of Pinocchio will welcome you at every corner. You will see his long, long nose from a distance. And just before you enter Collodi the highest wooden Pinocchio in the world will say “Ciao” to you.
Once you arrive, the town will astonish you with its village buildings and their façades. The whole village resembles a real decorated settlement as most of the buildings there have wall paintings which recount the story of Pinocchio. When you reach the Park of Pinocchio, it will open its “fairy” doors generously and you will dive into one really fairy world.
The “Pinocchio Disneyland”, as I often call it, was built in last century as an initiative to foster the culture for children and youngsters. With the birth of this idea in 1962 the International Carlo Collodi Foundation was established as well. Since then the latter has been maintaining the park and has been making hundreds of children and grown-up children smile, amuse themselves and have fun there throughout art and games in the open area. How?
There are numerous workshops offering a vast variety of educational activities. Puppet shows are held so that the old and new adventures of Pinocchio are retold. The park is in possession of both a virtual and ordinary libraries. New hi-tech generation will be, surely, attracted by the touch-screens on display where boys and girls will browse their pixels book (instead of a paper one). But at the same time, youngsters will have the chance to get acquainted with the various and extremely colourful editions of “Le avventure di Pinocchio” (“The Adventures of Pinocchio”) translated in lots of languages all over the world.
The Pinocchio Museum houses also temporary exhibitions of artists. This is the melting pot of various fairy-tales since well-known and beloved characters like the Little Prince, the Little Mermaid, Pippi Longstocking are arranged near Pinocchio. And it’s natural. They’re all his friends … and our friends, of course.
Apart from the educational activities, small boys and girls can indulge in various games in the playgrounds in the park. There are a lot of roundabouts (such as the antique, the Venetian Lagoon, the Shimmy roundabouts, etc.), game wooden structures, life-size puppets, ponies and so on, on Geppetto’s Playground and along the paths in the park. And all games are in open air so that little visitors can go wild like true Pinocchios.
Of course, everyone would want to buy a souvenir from the Pinocchio Park Official Shop. There, you will find a great number of souvenirs and gifts (many of them hand-made) as well as the original book. In the end, after so many games, entertainment and fun, you will probably get hungry and you will need a break. Don’t worry. Just look at the red-painted V-shaped pillars in the main hall. Don’t they look like claws of a crawfish? Exactly. 🙂 You got it. It’s l’Osteria del Gambero Rosso (Inn of the Red Crawfish) where there’re separate menus tailored for children as well as pizza and pasta. Have a short break here because our next stop is …