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It finally felt like summer this afternoon and the park was full of everyone. Kids playing soccer, grandparents strolling with carriages full of grandchildren. People walking their dogs, and others scurrying after toddlers. Other groups of teenagers were sitting out on the grass in circles, some with speakers blasting all types of music. One group had a slackline strung between the trees at the back of the glass greenhouse. A bar has been built with a full-on patio on the lower corner of the park and it’s bustling with people filling the mismatched tables and chairs.

Out past the crowd, standing completely alone, was a statue that seemingly appeared overnight. Pinocchio now stands tall across the street from me. I knew Pinocchio, and when I toured Rome the first time I remember the little shops full of the wooden ornaments and toys – the full-size Pinocchio outside on the street where you could stick your face behind his nose for pictures. I knew it was an Italian story, but it wasn’t until Rami that I knew the whole story.

When my mum and brother visited for Christmas one year, we wanted to get out of the city. Collodi! Rami suggested the little town where the story of Pinocchio was written. Now, there’s a little park there for the story, and so we were off. The town of Collodi is perched on the precipice of a mountainside, steep roads almost impossible to even walk up. During Christmas, the little stone buildings and doorsteps were covered in wreaths and decorations, lights and streamers. It glowed.

The park was almost empty and the themed areas had something magic to the simplicity of them. There’s a mini-museum of the entire history of Pinocchio – the real Italian Pinocchio (that I still have yet to read, actually. Another on my list) who is very much more complex than the wooden boy most of us know. Outside, you wind through the story with different gardens with statues of the characters, little puzzles to solve and, my favorite, an enormous whale statue in a pond (my brother and I immediately ran and climbed up onto the big pink tongue that was surprisingly bouncy – then we found out there was a sign that said do not climb – PS. don’t bounce on the tongue. You’ll want to. Don’t do it.)

It was a beautiful little place for a beautiful historic little story that is known worldwide, and now, he also stands in the garden across the street. Carlo Collodi, whose real last name is Lorenzini, was born in the city center of Florence before moving out to the hillsides. So a statue belongs in this city to represent history. I didn’t get a chance to actually read the plaque underneath, nor even really appreciate the statue before I was attempting to wrangle three dog leashes at the same time as Luna and two other dogs tried to play. I’ll head get the full story tomorrow, but it was lovely to see a new tribute to such a whimsical part of Italian history.