“Once upon a time, there was... << A king! >> my little readers will say right away. No, children, you are wrong. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.”...Who has never read Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi?
The Adventures of Pinocchio is a novel written by the Italian writer Carlo Lorenzini (also known as Collodi), a children's classic book; it was published for the first time in Florence in 1883 and it has been translated in all languages. Even if a lot of people (mostly outside Italy) know the story because of the 1940 American famous animated film produced by Walt Disney, Pinocchio was actually born thirty kilometers away from Pistoia and precisely in Collodi, the village where the author spent his childhood.
In the first half of the 1950s, the Mayor of Pescia announced a national competition to design a monument to the world's most famous and untruthful puppet. No less than 165 projects were presented and finally, the winners were Emilio Greco with Pinocchio and the Fairy and Venturino Venturi, Renato Baldi and Lionello De Luigi with the Square of the Mosaics. Later in 1956, a Memorial Park was created around a paved square surrounded by some little walls, covered with mosaics portraying the adventures of the puppet and a holm oak grove. The bronze sculpture by Emilio Greco was placed at the square entrance. From this moment on and mostly in the following thirty years, the park was enriched with a lot of constructions, such as the Red Lobster Tavern (designed by the architect Giovanni Michelucci) and various symbolic statues and structures portraying the characters, the scenes and the locations of the fairytale.
The Pinocchio Park is no ordinary theme park, but a special place where anyone can feel like interacting with the characters of the novel. Once you have passed through the gates, you will find yourself surrounded by evergreens and flowering hedges, whose colours remind often of the episodes in the fairytale, as well as the sculptures along the way (e.g. the beautiful hedge with white and light blue flowers surrounding the statue of The Fairy with Turquoise Hair, the only female figure in the story, representing gentleness, maternal love and disposition to forgive). Other extraordinary sculptures are: the Talking Cricket, the Fox and the Cat, the Doorkeeper Snail, the Serpent, the Black Rabbits with the Coffin, the Crab, the Little Donkey, the Little Goat and... The Terrible Dogfish, a sort of tilted dome beneath which are threatening rows of sharp teeth. As every fairytale worthy of the name, Pinocchio has different interpretations too, for this reason and not only because the place is literally filled with artworks, the Park of Pinocchio is a pleasant stop for both children and grown-ups: little ones will have fun taking pictures in the mouth of the Dogfish, grown-ups on the other hand, will remember that the Whale is actually a terrifying symbol of the unknown, but, at the same time, it also represents the place where father and son (Mister Geppetto and Pinocchio) meet again and fall into each other's arms.
Pinocchio struck the imagination of writers (in 1936 Aleksej Nikolaevič Tolstoj wrote an adaptation entitled The Little Gold Key or the Adventures of Buratino, which was translated also in Italian), comic strip artists, movie and drama writers, essayists, TV series and cartoon writers, videoclip directors and musicians. In 1977 the concept album by Edoardo Bennato entitled Burattino Senza Fili (Marionette Without Strings) sold about 1 million copies in Italy and topped also the country chart. The album is obviously based on Collodi's fairytale but proposes a metaphorical reading of the adventures of Pinocchio, suggesting also a double entendre: the classic children's fairytale and a modern analysis of the characters. The main idea is that having one's own freedom and independence is always better than giving in to the System and its rules, even if this means renouncing to some advantages that the System itself uses as luring temptations... Becoming a real live boy, Pinocchio gives up to his own nature and passively gives in to the values of the dominant culture.