Had a great time at breakfast this morning. It was just Diana, AntHony and I but an excellent start to the day. I asked AntHony how many languages he speaks and he responded, “I don’t know.” As though they are countless. ;) He also remembered (not to be outdone by the worldly Freda) that he too had met the queen.
Today is a free day. Apparently our beloved teacher needs a day off. We are clearly overworking the poor soul, and tonight is the infamous opera and dinner in town. I am not allowed to go to dinner in town, as it is far too difficult to arrange return travel, so in my stoic grace, I have opted to stay home alone and starve.
It is a perfectly glorious day and I am so excited about heading to what Trip Advisor dubs “the worst attraction in all of Italy” I can hardly wait for my carriage to whisk me off to PINOCCHIO PARK! Later!
BEST DAY EVER!
No words can do Pinocchio Park justice. One really must experience this macabre and magical place to understand, but oh my goodness I shall try to give you a taste;
Pinocchio Park was built in the town of Collodi in 1956 to celebrate the long-nosed lying marionette. The author, Carlo Lorenzini changed his name to Collodi after the town his mother was born in and where he visited often as a child.
An adorable skinny (British of course), girl named Nicky, dressed in red in honour of the puppet, came to drive me to Collodi. She was great fun and the ride in her little clown car with the roof down was an adventure in itself. We meandered up and down mountains, honking at every curve and laughing our way in and back out of one way streets like a marble in a maze until we finally sighted the massive statue of Pinocchio towering over our destination.
We first enter what looks like a classroom with large windows and threadbare drapes dangling off dusty rods. Like children in gym class awaiting instruction, a crowd of dreary and dilapidated characters stare at us as though hoping for adoption or at least restoration. Most are renditions of Pinocchio but they are dwarfed by creepy half human/half animals. They are crafted from grandma’s mink, Paper Mache and duct tape. For no obvious reason, Edward Scissor Hands and Pippy Long Stocking have joined the party.
Outside I am drawn immediately to an awesome, out-of-service and filthy ride of vintage Volkswagon vans and Austin minis. It is decorated with Christmas bows and aluminum foil. The sun dapples through decades of bug corpses that have fossilized on the torn tarp above. Next to it is a merry-go-round of awesome old Pinnochios and a random Elvis in a gondola.
A dirt path leads us on to a caravan of erie circus carts and I cannot get in fast enough! The door is rotting off its hinges and the walls and floors are faring no better. Inside, small dioramas depicting the infamous tale are protected by glass smeared by generations of dirty little hands. It is clear maintenance has not been an issue since 1959 as each of these fabulous little scenes is thick with dust and mouse droppings. The final cart houses the Blue Fairy; a bored looking store mannequin with a dollar store wig and a forgotten wedding dress.
The map is completely useless, as most of the rides in the park are closed and trails are blocked by do not enter signs. Regardless, the paths are full of intrigue and we find all sorts of delights. Nicky (brave soul) climbed into a mold covered giant fish in the middle of the lake just to provide me a photo op.
Down the dirt paths sculptures appear of characters and scenes from the book. One makes the trip completely worthwhile; it is the coffin of Pinocchio held on the shoulders of mourning mice in top hats. I don’t know what it is about this work that I love, but if I could, I would steal it. I will paint an egg in it's honour.
This place is lost in a time warp and it makes smile. I fantasized about coming here and offering to spruce it up, but now, I rather enjoy it’s glorious decay.
I heard a puppet show going on and as I headed toward the tiny outdoor theatre, appropriately, a rat dashed across my path. Who wouldn’t want to bring their children here?
Beyond there is a stone play yard surrounded by primitive tile décor and a creek with two massive plastic snakes crawling in or out of it.
Back inside, there are more scary characters and a place for kids to do art. A few cool displays of Gepetto’s workshop follow and finally we land in the gift shop of forgotten souvenirs. I bought the worst souvenir on the planet. A plastic faded bottle opener whose label ( faded cartoon of Pinocchio) clung reluctantly by one corner to the plastic handle.
I am so glad I went. There were so many things in bad or original shape it was whimsical fascinating and frightening all at the same time. I absolutely loved it.
I will stop here lest I bore you, but a photo is worth a thousand words, so enjoy the gallery and I will continue the rest of the day in the next blog.