Discover Pinocchio's true roots at the Pinocchio Park in Tuscany or Piedmont for a bit of family fun, that still includes wine! These two day itineraries take you from park to vineyard so that everyone in the family can enjoy all that Italy has to offer.
Going to Pinocchio Park in Collodi, Tuscany is a fun and low-key family activity. Exploring this theme park is like taking a step into the past, there are no thrilling rides or high-tech amusements. It’s a chance for families to explore the story together by walking along the Pinocchio trail, watching a puppet show, and seeing recreations of events and places from the famous tale.
Visiting Pinocchio Park in Collodi
Carlo Collodi, the author of the Pinocchio story, is the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini. Carlo was born in Florence but chose Collodi for his pen name after the Tuscan village where his mother was born. Collodi’s book was first published in 1883.
Pinocchio Park tells Collodi’s version of the story of Pinocchio through sculptures along a special trail, mosaics, exhibits, and puppet shows. Before you enter the park take a look at the world’s tallest wooden statue of Pinocchio, 16 meters tall, that welcomes visitors across from the parking lot.
Entering the park you’ll walk through the small museum with exhibits and photos related to Pinocchio and the park. Then just follow the Pinocchio trail signs leading you to the play area, the mosaic piazza, and on to the trail illustrated with sculptures of characters from the story including the policeman, talking cricket, the fairy and her house, and the cunning fox and cat. Along the path, you’ll come to the mouth of the terrible dogfish that swallowed Pinocchio (you can go into the mouth yourself or climb on top of its head), a pirate ship, and a labyrinth. There is a special path for wheelchairs that’s also easier to navigate for strollers.
In the play area, near the entrance and exit, you’ll find the puppet theatre, merry-go-rounds, a caravan with scenes from the story, Geppetto’s playground with wooden play structures, and a picnic area with a snack bar. For kids who want a little adventure away from their parents, there’s a newly added play area by the river, accessed by crossing a rope bridge under the supervision of staff (no adults allowed).
Plan to spend at least an hour in the park, or longer if you want to see a puppet show, take part in any workshops or special activities that may be offered, or have a picnic. There’s also a family restaurant adjacent to the park, Il Gambero Rosso. Of course, as you exit, there’s a gift shop selling all kinds of Pinocchio souvenirs!
Pinocchio’s birthday is celebrated on May 25 and special events are usually held at the park and in town.
At the time of writing (2018), the park is open daily from 1 March through 4 November, starting at 9:00 (closing times vary by season) and on Saturdays and holidays the rest of the year. Admission is 13 euro for adults or 22 euro for a combination ticket that includes Villa Garzoni Garden and Butterfly House. Discounts are available for children and seniors and children under 3 are free. See Pinocchio Park for updated hours and prices or to buy tickets in advance (and save 2 euro on the ticket price).
Collodi is 60 kilometres west of Florence, about midway between Montecatini Terme (10 km), and Lucca (15 km). Take the A11 autostrada and exit at Chiesina Uzzanese if coming from the direction of Florence or Capannori if coming from Lucca. The nearby town of Pescia has a train station with bus connections to Collodi or from Lucca buses go directly to Collodi.
Before you go it might be a good idea to read the original book with your children (which varies a little from the Disney movie).
Near Pinocchio Park – Villa Garzoni Garden and Butterfly House
While you’re in Collodi, you may also want to visit the beautiful garden of the 17th-century Villa Garzoni. Below the villa is a Renaissance-style garden created in the 18th-century. The lower part of the garden has two large pools and formal plantings. Walking up the hill toward the villa (which is closed to the public), you’ll see statues, a water staircase, a labyrinth, roses, and a collection of 19th-century camellias.
Also in the garden is a butterfly house, a place the kids will enjoy. Butterflies and small birds fly freely in the enclosed tropical garden and sometimes a butterfly will even land on your shoulder!
Where to Go Wine Tasting
After a few hours of family fun, it’s time for some wine tasting! Head to Cantine Lunae near Carrara in the southeastern tip of Liguria, a one hour drive northwest of Collodi. They produce a variety of excellent local wines, especially Vermentino, in all price ranges. You can taste wine, buy local products in their shop, and visit the small museum. The museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings but the winery is open daily except for Sunday afternoons. Kids can run around in the little garden outside too.
More Pinocchio: Vernante, Piemonte
The tiny town of Vernante, about 90 kilometres south of Turin in the Maritime Alps Park, was the last home of the definitive illustrator of Pinocchio, Attilio Mussino, who lived many years in the village. Murals painted on houses illustrate scenes from the story. Stroll the streets, there are murals all over, then visit the little museum dedicated to Mussino that includes the first illustrated version of Pinocchio, published in 1911. For information see the Comune of Vernante website. Regional trains along the Turin to Ventimiglia rail line stop in Vernante.
From Vernante, head up to the Langhe Wine Region for wine tasting. It’s about a one hour drive to Monforte d’Alba, in the heart of Barolo wine country. Make an appointment to visit Podere Rocche dei Manzoni where you can taste Barolo, Barbera d’Alba, and sparkling wines.
The Grand Wine Tour is a mark of excellence in hospitality distinguishing Italian wineries throughout the country. Book your tasting and tour today!