A One-Of-A-Kind Magical Tree At This European Destination Inspired The Story Of Pinocchio

Small ancient towns and ethereal landscapes make Tuscany one of Italy's most renowned regions. In Capannori, near the underrated Tuscan city Lucca, there is an otherworldly landmark and national monument: the Oak of the Witches. The centuries-old tree, found on the grounds of an estate known as Villa Carrara, is mesmerizing.

It has willowy branches and stands over 78 feet tall, according to Italy Magazine. The publication notes that its distinct name comes from lore that states witches treasured the tree and used it in their practice. However, the Oak of the Witches is also locally called Quercia di Pinocchio (translation: the Oak Tee of Pinocchio).

Why, you ask? It's believed that Carlo Collodi, author of the 1883 children's book "The Adventures of Pinocchio," wrote some of this masterpiece under the tree, per Italy Magazine. Likewise, he included the tree in a notorious scene. As you may recall, Pinocchio is a wooden puppet prone to lying and falling into questionable situations.

In chapter 15 of the book, Pinocchio is hanged on an oak tree by assassins but lives with the help of a fairy with blue hair. This chapter was first published as a short story in 1881 and originally included Pinocchio's death. However, Collodi later decided to change the story.

That said, Collodi's real name is Carlo Lorenzini. His pseudonym pays homage to the village of Collodi, his hometown. Collodi is a short distance from the Oak of the Witches and is home to Pinocchio Park.

Pinocchio Park offers affordable family fun

Collodi is a must-visit spot in Tuscany. While picturesque and historical, one of its main draws is Pinocchio Park. The theme park opened in 1956 and is only 10 minutes from the Oak of the Witches. Pinocchio Park caters to young children and includes carnival rides, puppet shows, games, and more. 

One of its defining features is its monument park, a sculpture and garden that helps tell the story of Pinocchio through art. In addition, there is an onsite museum with Pinocchio-themed exhibits, one of which has an interactive component. For mini thrill seekers, the park offers two zipline courses. 

In chapter 34 of "The Adventures of Pinocchio," the puppet is swallowed by a shark. A sizeable concrete-built shark (pictured) pays tribute to this harrowing moment. As for food, there is one onesite restaurant: Osteria del Gambero Rosso. The eatery features Pinocchio decor and primarily serves pizza.

Pinocchio Park's hours vary per season but tickets can be purchased online. At the time of this writing, prices are under $30 for both adults and children. Note that this admission price grants you access to all the activities available at Pinocchio Park and two other attractions adjacent to the park: Villa Garzoni and the Butterfly House.

The former is a stunning estate and garden from the 17th century. The Butterfly House is located at Villa Garzoni and allows visitors to get up close and personal with the gorgeous insects. While in Collodi, don't forget to check out the giant Pinocchio statue near Pinocchio Park.