Many are ready to swear that the village of Pinocchio is Collodi, a wonderful reality in the province of Pistoia where the author of the renowned book lived. The truth, however, is that it’s not the only one. In Italy there is also another place that is inspired by the most famous wooden man in the world: Vernante, a real fairytale town.
Vernante, everything you need to know
Simao in Piedmont, and more precisely in the province of Cuneo. Right here, in the evocative setting of the Parco delle Alpi Marittime which stands out for being embellished with trees, streams and lakes, comes to life Vernante, considered the “town of Pinocchio”.
The link between the village and this fictional character exists because he lived in these parts Attilio Mussino, the painter nicknamed “Pinocchio’s uncle”, the one who illustrated the famous book written by Carlo Lorenzini, known as Carlo Collodi. The man moved to this lovely town in Northern Italy following the loss of his son and wife, and remained here until his death in 1954.
In the same year two inhabitants of the Piedmontese village, Bruno Carlet and Meo Cavallera, they decided to pay homage to Mussino’s work. How? They chose to reproduce some of his illustrations on the walls of the houses in the historic center. The result? Vernante is an open-air museum of graffitia large book illustrated in the light of the sun where lovers of this fairy tale can find the characters of Collodi and walk in their company through the streets of the center.
Vernante’s bond with Pinocchio
Walking through the charming alleys of the village, in fact, you will be able to meet the Cat and the Fox, Mangiafuoco, the Whale, the Blue Fairy, Geppetto and so on. All characters who made our childhood who follow one another in the walls of buildings to make visitors relive the adventures of Pinocchio. But not just in the walls! Some splendid illustrations, in fact, are also found in doors and windows, and are made almost real thanks to the use of wooden shapes that can be found in the gardens or on the stairs.
Furthermore, a entire museum where you can admire all the works that celebrate the artist’s career: oil and watercolor paintings, various editions of children’s books illustrated by him (among which the 1911 edition of Pinocchio stands out), various graphic studies in pencil, sketches and drawings of famous people.
In addition, you will be able to discover the latest edition of Pinocchio illustrated by Attilio Mussino: the “Animated Pinocchio”, which came out in weekly installments for “Il Giornalino” set in Vernante.
Finally, at the northern entrance of this village stands a monument of the Bertaina brothers, local artisans, always in honor of the renowned wooden puppet.
What to see in Vernante beyond the murals
A perfect place, therefore, for those who love fairy tales and, above all, those that have been part of our past. But what is right to know is that Vernante it is not limited to this: it also has other interesting attractions for all travelers who reach it.
For example, it’s worth checking out Tourouselawhat remains of a magnificent medieval manor dating back to 1280. Also known by the name of Lascaris Castle, was built at the behest of Count Pietro Balbo di Tenda in a dominant position over the entire town. Its purpose was to defend the county and have a full view of the streets below.
A structure that also hides some mysteries: in 2018 it became the protagonist of a video of a group of “ghost hunters” very popular on social networks. These boys claimed to have recorded, inside the tower, the song of Beatrice Lascaris of Tendawho lived in the castle and was executed in 1418 because she was accused of adultery.
Another point of interest of this fairytale village is the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Valle dating back to the 15th century. What you will find in front of you is a beautiful building, with a Greek cross plan, embellished with magnificent nineteenth-century decorations.
Inside, however, you can admire examples of sacred art of great value as the particular Throne of the Virgin covered with a rich hand-woven silver cloak.
Finally, it is worth visiting the parish church of Vernante, dedicated to San Nicolao. Built in 1200, today it is in Baroque style and within its walls it boasts four altars, two chapels and numerous sacred paintings.
Also beautiful are the statues, the Christ the Redeemer and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which are both by the sculptor Aldo Pellegrino di Boves. Then the bell tower, commonly known as “Ciuchè Rus” (red bell tower) by Vernantesi.
What to see around Vernante
Being in a natural context of pure beauty, Vernante it has a lot to offer in its surroundings as well. Along the ridges around the village there are several paths that allow you to discover places of historical, artistic and landscape interest. The most curious thing is that each of them is distinguished by a color and that the indications are written in Vernantino dialect (complete with a silhouette of Pinocchio).
Among the various things you can discover is the chapel of San Macariolocated along the Ruinas trail. His is the typical structure of medieval rural oratories of the Alpine area, while the frescoes have a decidedly more modern profile. Then again the church of San Bartolomeo in the Folchi district, la chapel of San Giacomo in Palanfrè, la chapel of San Giovanni located in the homonymous valley, the chapel of the Madonna della Neve in the hamlet Ciastellar e la chapel of Santa Lucia near the Santa Lucia valley.
But not only. The town of Vernante boasts many fountains that are defined as “the most prestigious in the whole valley”. For particularity and importance the Bleu Fountain, located at the mouth of the Secco valley. From here gushes low-mineral water and the structure is linked to a historical episode that fades into legend: Pope Pius VII’s passage to Vernante.
In a small park at the beginning of the road that leads to Folchi, not to be missed is the Rocca Muller Fountain, with regular income. While on the left of the Vermenagna stream the San Macario and Sassi fountains. Also very impressive Fountain of the Bride which is located in the Valle Grande, in the locality of Ciastel roofs and, at the end of the road that crosses the valley, the Palanfrè Fountainwith water of excellent quality.
Vernante, the village that celebrates Pinocchioit is perfect for both adults and children but also for lovers of history and nature.
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