Collodi (Tuscany, Center)
Photo by Municipality
From its hillside position, the whole of Collodi, marvels at the magnificent house and beautiful gardens, one of the most beautiful sights in Italy. Collodi, belonging to the municipal area of Pescia, lies midway between Florence and Pisa and is on the borders of the enchanting Valdinievole. The town is proud of this jewel and its famous personality, Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Collodi, the author of Pinocchio, one of most widely read books in the world.
It is no coincidence that the famous writer chose this pseudonym. The story of his puppet is set in a rural Tuscany that may well be that of the countryside surrounding this very peaceful town, inhabited by farmers, artisans, merchants. And the bestiary, between fantasy and reality, produced in Pinocchio could have come from the caves, the nymphs, groves and a thousand other wonders of the garden of Villa Garzoni.
What not to miss
A park dedicated to Pinocchio was opened in 1956 and includes a collection of sculptures by famous Italian artists, obviously inspired by the adventurous story of the wooden puppet. Here, you meet the bronze group of Pinocchio and the Fairy, the Square of Mosaics, the Red Lobster Inn and Toyland, a fantastic trail leading through woodland and Mediterranean bush and the dozen sculptures in bronze and steel by Pietro Consagra. In the future, the celebration of Pinocchio will see new exciting projects such as the Friends of the Park of Pinocchio, a guided tour blending the real and the virtual and other famous characters of children’s books like Alice, the Little Prince, Pippi Longstocking, Peter Porcupine.
But back to the garden of Villa Garzoni and the town. The Garzoni family, owners of the town and surrounding areas from the fourteenth century, was an important and fiercely anti-Florence ally of Lucca. Its members were vicars, soldiers of fortune, ambassadors, notaries, merchants and bankers, advisors of emperors and Popes. Romano Garzoni, in the mid-seventeenth century, designed the villa and garden as an emblem of the family’s social success. In the eighteenth century, one of his descendants embellished it with additional statues and completed the garden with a stunning triumph of water, the fame of which extended beyond the boundaries of Lucca and the nobility of Europe vied to witness, and perhaps imitate, this ideal of beauty and harmony. The garden takes advantage of the slope of the hill to accommodate the stairs and terraces, to pump water to the fountains and to give an extraordinary effect of perspective. It has all the elements of the Renaissance and Baroque gardens: the little theatre in boxwood shrubs, flower beds in geometric forms, the caverns, the pavilions of the bathhouse and statues on mythological and allegorical themes.
The villa, otherwise referred to as a castle by virtue of its imposing size, stands away from the secluded garden and seems to abut the houses in the village, which cascade down the hill. It still has most of the original furnishings and an impressive series of rooms decorated with stucco and frescoes.
The town, before the construction of the villa that ennobles it, played an important military role as an outpost on the border between Lucca and Florence. Even today, walking through the town you can see the house below and the ruins of the fortress on the summit where there is also the parish church of St. Bartholomew (13th century) containing notable works of art. The name of Collodi derives from the Latin Forum Clodii as it was a post along the ancient Via Cassia. The vestiges of a Roman pavement lead today along the Via della Fiaba, the beautiful fairy-tale promenade joining Collodi and Pescia.
Modern-day Collodi has developed on the lower plain and is now part of nearby Pescia. The cultivation of carnation flowers takes place on the available farming land
Why it received the “Orange flag”, seal of tourism and environmental quality
The town stands out by virtue of the harmony and maintenance of buildings of the old town and for the availability of significant historical and cultural resources: Pinocchio Park and Gardens of the Villa Garzoni, both very accessible. Visitors can take advantage of an efficient, visible and sign-posted information centre and the range of accommodation and restaurants is good.