Italian villa that inspired "Pinocchio" creator is up for sale

The gardens at "Villa Pinocchio" feature a water garden, that is set in the steep hillside with terraced stairs connecting the different levels. Guido Andreoni

ROME - Villa Pinocchio is on the market for $25 million.

Pinocchio -- the wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy and whose nose is a built-in lie detector that grows and grows as he tells fibs -- was originally conceived in these magical surroundings, where its creator spent his childhood.

As the story goes, Pinocchio is fashioned out of a walking stick by a carpenter called Geppetto. Author Carlo Lorenzini wrote "The Adventures of Pinocchio" and chose as his pseudonym Carlo Collodi after the 12th-century town of the same name, where the villa and its spectacular Baroque gardens are located in the province of Pistoia, in Tuscany.

He drew his inspiration from growing up and experiencing a fable-like life in a most enchanting location. And he set his fairy tale in the estate where his mom and dad worked for the Garzoni noble family who owned it. He wrote the story in installments in a children's journal between 1881 and 1883.

Built in the early 17th century on the site of a great medieval castle, the 5,500-square-meter estate is shrouded in history. Lionard Luxury Real Estate Agents, charged with the sales negotiations of this magnificent property, said it is on the market for around $25 million.

"Foreigners have a strong interest in the Italian property market and potential buyers from the United States and France have expressed an interest in the estate," said Jennifer Giraldi, who is responsible for the estate agents' legal department.

"Our hope is that the buyer will understand its emotional, cultural and financial value," she added. "The author used his imagination but also drew on real elements from the villa and its gardens. For example, the kitchen with the large fireplace where Pinocchio burns his feet is based on the very kitchen in the main villa," said Giraldi.

Villa Garzoni or Pinocchio's villa or villa "of the hundred windows," as it is also known, requires restoration. Built on five floors, it has an impressive facade and 40 spacious bedrooms with stunning frescoes, stuccoes, sculptures and paintings by top Italian artists.

The villa itself is not open to the public but for a small fee thousands of visitors from all over the world come every year to walk through the extraordinary and very-well maintained grounds. They come from nearby art cities like Florence, Lucca and Pisa.

Families with children visit the Park of Pinocchio, an enchanted place where they see the main characters from the novel including the famous wooden marionette, the Fairy with Turquoise Hair, the Cat and the Fox and many others.

One of the most beautiful attractions of the park is a statue of the great dogfish shark that, in the story, first swallows Pinocchio's dad, Geppetto, and later the boy puppet as well. Overlooking a pretty pond, this large concrete animal emits long splashes of water at regular intervals.

The tiered Baroque gardens, considered one of the most magnificent examples in Italy, evoke the feel of past times. The gardens were created by Lucca architect Ottaviano Diodati and took 170 years to complete. There is an amazing maze where you can get lost for hours and a number of waterfalls and fountains with graceful statues.

A majestic staircase, decorated with colorful mosaics in geometric designs, finished with niches of terracotta statues, leads up to the main villa. At the margins of the park is an enchanting glass Butterfly House, home to hundreds of tropical and equatorial butterflies.

The property also features the charming Palazzina d'Estate, by Baroque architect Filippo Juvarra, a farm and, at the top of the garden, little pavilions called Bagnetti.

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