Pointing to a faded manuscript exhibited in a glass cabinet, tour guide Claudia Durante explains why the plot of the original Pinocchio story isn’t quite the happy Disney ending we’ve all grown up with. In the original story, she says, our favourite wooden puppet hanged himself – although the final chapter was quickly amended to make something more appealing to the public.
Florentine author Carlo Lorenzini, who wrote under the name Carlo Collodi, was a journalist and satirist commenting on the impacts of Italy’s unification in the mid-19th century. But his tale of a marionette who dreams of becoming a real boy inadvertently became a classic fairy tale.
Happy ending or not, the city of Florence proudly proclaims Pinocchio as one of its famous sons, alongside the likes of Dante and Da Vinci. Shopfronts are stuffed with magnets, toys, and badges, while several venues are named after key characters.
Many of the original cafes and bookshops associated with Collodi, who was born (and died) in the Tuscan city, no longer exist. But it’s still possible to visit locations on a short tour with Claudia Durante.
Besides, there are many more great reasons to visit Florence. Here are a few of them.
You can stay in a hotel with one of the city’s oldest towers
Thought to be almost 1,300 years old, the Pagliazza Tower is part of the luxurious Hotel Brunelleschi and now houses a gourmet restaurant and museum, where there are also remains of a Roman Bath. Views from bedrooms gaze across terracotta rooftops and the sound of horses pulling tourist carts can be heard from the cobbled streets below.
It’s possible to dine on the rooftops
Sitting at eye level with Tuscany’s many hills, roof terrace restaurant Angel is a young, vibrant addition to the Florentine dining scene. Church bells chime in tune with a soundtrack of soul and jazz by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, and the menu is as breezy and refreshing as the open-air space. Dine on tuna tartare with a Jackson Pollock splash of beetroot, or black ravioli stuffed with ricotta and tiger shrimps. Visit - hotelcalimala.com/angel-roofbar-dining
Cocktails are laced with gold
Perfect for sunset, when the River Arno glows red, Caffe dell’Oro is located below the Palazzo Vecchio. The Negroni cocktail was invented in Florence, but here, you can order a version with a twist. The venue’s signature offering features bergamot and white vermouth topped with flecks of gold. Match it with a bowl of wasabi and truffle crackers. Visit - lungarnocollection.com/caffe-dell-oro/.
Shopping is a historical experience
Built inside a monastery, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is often described as the oldest pharmacy in the world. Today, there are no medicines for sale, but the elegant shelves do stock a beautiful selection of soaps, perfumes, and toiletries. Made without preservatives or fixers, products feature jasmine, rose and iris – the symbolic flower of Florence. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth visiting to admire the opulent interior. Visit - eu.smnovella.com.
There are still plenty of haunts for Pinocchio fans
First editions of Pinocchio, originally serialised in an Italian newspaper, are displayed alongside hundreds of toys and memorabilia at the new Museo del Giocattolo e di Pinocchio, in Via dell’Oriuolo. Treasures amassed by historian and collector Giuseppe Garbarino give an intimate insight into author Collodi’s past, and demonstrate the popularity of the wooden puppet in his home city. Visit - museodelgiocattolo.it.
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