Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Carlo Collodi, was a famous Italian journalist and writer born in Florence on November 24, 1826. His name should already tell you something, and in fact we are talking about the father of the famous wooden puppet Pinocchio!
The novel was published in 1881 and the original title was “The Adventures of Pinocchio. Story of a puppet”. But what does Collodi have to do with San Miniato, you may be wondering? Well, according to research carried out by one of our fellow citizens, Alessandro Vegni, it would seem that Carlo Collodi was inspired by the places in San Miniato and its surroundings! But let’s start from the beginning …
Carlo Collodi‘s father worked as a cook in San Miniato and often, on return from his travels, his son visited him in that place that at the time was called Pinocchio (a name that remained until 1924): a particular name, certainly, that derives perhaps from the fact that long ago this place was called Ponte ai Pidocchi (from here many people passed, including poor, beggars, the so-called lice). Subsequently the name was changed to Pinocchio thanks to a large pine that was located in the center of the town.
It is thought that Carlo Collodi was inspired by his famous book thanks to a trip he made (and later wrote “A steam novel. From Florence to Livorno. Historical-humorous guide”) in these areas while he was passing through some of the most famous provinces of Tuscany.
To give some examples, always looking at the studies carried out by Alessandro Vegni, it could be that Geppetto’s dilapidated house was located near Ponte a Elsa rail station, where there is really a house that could correspond to the one in the book. In this town we can find also the reference that Collodi made for the Osteria del Gambero Rosso, connecting it to the current location that today bears the name of Osteria Bianca. And then the numerous ideas for the Cat and the Fox, probably taken from the name Rio Volpi and the famous Rigatti family and the puppet theater where Via del Teatro still stands today. In the hamlet of San Miniato called La Scala instead, he would have taken inspiration for the Jiminy Cricket (thanks to Via del Grillo), in the locality of Sasso there would be the famous oak tree where Pinocchio would have been hanged and the village of San Miniato, which winds through the hills , would be transformed into the snake. And then Fonte alle Fate, which would become the Field of Miracles, the prisons that would be found at the end of the village, the town of Acchiappa Citrulli, which would be San Miniato… And so on and on!
The research carried out does not constitute certainty, but they still make anyone dream that that little wooden puppet was really born in our area and that it has managed to win the love of many children all over the world! (if you want to deepen the research on Collodi and Pinocchio in San Miniato, please refer to the Alessandro Vegni website http://www.rangers.it/empoli/pinocchioaempoli.htm)
San Miniato basso is very fond to Pinocchio to whom in fact it dedicates some of the most awaited festivals by the citizens: the children’s carnival, during which the wooden figure of Pinocchio is tied to many balloons and left to hover in the sky and Pinocchio in Strada, a series of evenings in which all the shops are open and citizens flock to the streets for a walk full of music, shows and fun! For the sweet tooth instead we have Pinocchio Ciok, an event in which producers and sellers of chocolate from all over Italy participate!
From 9 June 2016, the sign at the entrance to San Miniato basso was changed to “San Miniato basso, formerly Pinocchio” in honor of the old name and why not, also of the famous puppet and his writer!