Pinocchio: A Puppet With a Much-Disputed Past

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Here’s something you may not have known about Pinocchio, the enormously popular children’s story about a perjuring wooden puppet. The tale is less fictional than we may have believed, new research concludes.

Pinocchio was written on July 7, 1881 by Carlo Collodi and was published at that time in an Italian magazine as La Storia di un Burattino (The Story of a Marionette).  In 1883, the story was adapted into a book, later titled The Adventures of Pinocchio. The book is considered to be the most translated work of all time, only after the Bible.

Researcher Alessandro Vegni has conducted extensive studies on the work juxtaposing the story of Pinocchio (which takes place in San Miniato Basso, a Tuscan village) with historic maps.  San Miniato’s original name, it turns out, was “Pinocchio.”

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Vegni highlights many consistencies between Collodi’s story and the town’s history.  He also proposes that Collodi spent time in San Miniato in addition to drawing inspiration from townspeople.

For example, Vegni writes first, “When Geppetto names his puppet, he says that he knew a whole family of Pinocchi: Pinocchio the father, Pinocchia the mother, and Pinocchi the children.”  Additionally, he writes of the “Casa Il Grillo” (Cricket House), a rural building whose name may refer to the Talking Cricket and the village of Osteria Bianca (White Inn) where the pub still stands which Vegni believes inspired the tale’s Red Shrimp Inn.  There is also the “Fonte delle Fate” (“Source of the Fairies”) whose name, Vegni argues inspired the Field of Miracles where Pinocchio planted his gold coins.

Some experts don’t agree with Vegni’s findings.  One such dissenter is Gianni Greco, who is affiliated with Associazione Pinocchio.  Greco told Discovery News, “The research is interesting, but I do not believe that Lorenxini was inspired by San Miniato and its surroundings.”

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