Italian Origin of Pinocchio the Beloved Childhood Tale
When children (and even adults) hear the name Pinocchio, it usually brings to mind the character and story of the Walt Disney movie. However, the true Pinocchio character and story in its original Italian version doesn’t completely resemble the Disney version that made Pinocchio so popular in the rest of the world. The original story was written by Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Carlo Collodi, a pen name taken from his town of birth Collodi in the province of Lucca in Tuscany. As well as his writing career, Collodi also served in the Department of the Interior and then with the Department of the Prefecture of Florence. He is best remembered as a writer, and Pinocchio is considered the masterpiece of all his writings.
The Disney version storyline differs somewhat from Collodi’s original. Collodi’s Pinocchio was anything but the cute cuddly baby-faced boy Disney artists created. The story line differences between the Disney version and Collodi’s book is not of significant importance; what is important is the end result and the moral of the story are the same. Had Disney not adopted the story, Pinocchio might not ever have become popular in America. It should be noted that Collodi’s original was much more intricate, and Pinocchio was more defiant and mischievous in Collodi’s original story, while Disney writers portrayed Pinocchio as innocent and gullible. Although the Disney version retained most of the same character names, one difference was the character of Stromboli. In the original novel by Collodi, the evil puppet master was named “Mangiafuoco” (fire-eater). In the Disney film version we can surmise that the story takes place in Italy, but from the depiction of the characters’ clothing and the landscape design, the setting was more in the style of the Tyrol or Switzerland. Collodi’s story takes place more in the north central region of Italy. Today Collodi’s book has been translated into many languages, including a Latin version, Pinoculus, published by S.F. Vanni Books in New York.
Readers interested in seeing a Pinocchio film that follows Collodi’s version more closely might want to buy or rent one of several versions. Two of the most recent Pinocchio films star Roberto Benigni as Pinocchio and the other stars Jonathan Taylor-Thomas, of TV’s “Home Improvement” fame. As for Pinocchio, in his native land he still remains a very popular and adored character. Many toys and other items, crafted in the image as described by Collodi, are available both to children and even tourists who are fascinated by Pinocchio’s presence in shops and outdoor markets. It’s also not unusual for some Italian homes to decorate their Christmas trees with a Pinocchio ornament. Among the most popular items or souvenirs available are pencils, pens, dolls, school bags, key chains, snow domes, and of course, marionettes, small ones to life size.
Pinocchio is so popular that in the 1960s Italian actor and singer, Johnny Dorelli, vocalized a children’s song that was entitled “Lettera a Pinocchio,” Letter to Pinocchio. Though not officially a holiday song, it is heard mostly at the Christmas season and often appears on Christmas records and CD’s. The first verse of the “letter” is as follows:
Amico dei giorni più lieti
Di tutti i miei segreti che confidavo a te
Ricordi quand’ero bambino nel mio bianco lettino?
Ti sfogliai. Ti parlai. Ti sognai.
Dove sei? Ti vorrei veder
Del tuo mondo vorrei saper
Friend of happier times
Confidant of secrets entrusted to you
Remember when I was a baby lying in my crib?
We pretended. We talked. I dreamed of you.
Where are you?
I want to know your world.