Pinocchio – A Hidden Treasure in Orvieto

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:

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

2 thoughts on “Pinocchio – A Hidden Treasure in Orvieto

  1. The artists name was Peppe Mascherini. I have a beautiful bird carving by him which he gave to me as ‘payment’ for helping him hammer a nail into a little Pinocchio. (I was 6 and missed the nail completely and landed the hammer on his thumb instead.)


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