Pinocchio, a puppet between Collodi and Florence
Once upon a time there was… Carlo Lorenzini. And who is he, my young readers might ask. A genius, a journalist, a soldier, an intellectual, a writer, a mason, a satirist, an editor. Okay, good but we don’t know him, they will say. And if I say “Collodi”, instead?
Pinocchio! they would all scream out, while sitting cross-legged, and their minds would take on fabulous wings and start to follow puppets and whales, toys and little fairies, Geppetto, the Cat and the Fox.
There is no need to tell the adventures of the most famous wooden puppet in the world, “Pinocchio”. The book, which was publicized in 1883, has been translated into 240 languages, second only to the Bible. What’s less known is that Carlo Lorenzini, who wrote under the pseudonym “Collodi”, the name of the tiny birth place of his mother, got inspiration for his masterpiece from persons and places that existed in real life. Many of the episodes from the novel are inspired by events that really did happen in the life of the author.
The life of Lorenzini, like that of many intellectuals in the mid nineteenth century, certainly wasn’t a relaxing one. The Florentine journalist and author was always on the front line when it came to fighting either with a pen or with a rifle. In fact, he fought both in the First and the Second world war and he made himself known, and he was very much liked, but sometimes also disliked, for his typical, sarcastic Florentine way. So it’s not so difficult to understand the choice of Collodi, when in his twilight years, he retired to the quiet and the peace of Villa “Il Bel Riposo” (“Nice Rest”), which was owned by his brother and situated in the area called “Castello” in a hilly area north of Florence.
And it’s said, that it was actually in this village that Collodi found inspiration for the adventures of Pinocchio. The Municipality of Florence has drawn up a walk and put up placques and signs, with descriptions and citations from the book, to guide the visitor through episodes and personalities that the genius Lorenzini transformed into one of the greatest masterpieces ever written. So there they are, the antique shops where “the Didda” and “the Nappa” worked. “Nappa” is slang for nose and he was called so for his constantly red nose, caused by too much wine. Just like Mastro Ciliegia (Master Cherry).
And the house of Giovanna Ragionieri, who was the inspiration for the Blue Fairy.
For more than fifty years now there is a “Pinocchio Park” at Collodi, a few kilometres from Pescia (Pistoia). However, if you are looking for an amusement park in the style of Disneyland you’d better keep away from this place. Here, instead, there is a large number of works of arts by many of the greatest artists of the last century who have participated, in various stages, in contests created in the name and the honour of the puppet with the extending nose. A dreamlike immersion in the fairy-tale world created by Lorenzini, which leaves anyone who goes there enthralled and amazed.