By Joanne Natale Spigonardo
December 1, 2020
As the Holiday Season begins, I have fond memories of my trip to Orvieto, many Decembers ago. Orvieto is located in the Umbria region of Italy. It is rich in history and the town has numerous artists that sell their wares to locals and to tourists. The city is quant and breathtaking with its beautiful Etruscan and Roman facades. It is known for its white wines but produces many notable reds as well. One of the most delicious meals I have ever had, is the fettucine with white and black truffles. We enjoyed a delicious Trebbiano wine with our meal. We walked to the enchanting Duomo after dinner and found a wonderful café where we sampled the local and luscious semolina cake encased in bittersweet chocolate.
To burn off our sumptuous meal we strolled along the narrow streets. I was amazed by the many Pinocchio shops in its narrow streets. One shop in particular will always remain in my memory with an elderly man as the owner. I do not remember his name, but his image is clear. I felt that I stepped into another century. The whole experience was surreal. The gentleman had a mane of white hair and kind eyes. He had many versions of Pinocchio, in many different sizes, and they were made by his hand and they were unpainted. I asked him why he opened the shop and if he had an apprentice. He simply replied that he loved to carve wood and that the character of Pinocchio was always an inspiration. He had not found an apprentice yet that wanted to commit to his standards.
While the story of Pinocchio originated in Tuscany, it is a part of Italian culture throughout the country. The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi in 1883 while he was living in Florence. The book has influenced so many versions of the story and several films, one of the most famous by Walt Disney. Pinocchio is a moral story about the value of truth and of accountability. Parents world-wide read this story to children hoping to teach the values it projects.
We left the shop with several small Pinocchios, some of which I have passed on to my family, and some that I still put out every Christmas. When I place them on my mantel I always think of the beautiful shop and the hidden treasure of Orvieto. I always recall the altruistic artist and his passion for his work, and the meaning of Pinocchio, that truth is the foundation of morality. This message resonates with me, especially this year.
About the Author: Joanne Natale Spigonardo
Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, history wine and cuisine. She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon. For more information about Joanne please visit her Linkedin page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/