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From Pistoia Zoo to Pinocchio Park – for the children

  • From Pistoia Zoo to Pinocchio Park – for the children

    If the children are fractious and fed up with sightseeing, then consider a trip to Pistoia Zoo. Known as the Giardino Zoologico di Pistoia, it’s set about 5 km outside town, in a large pine forest. As far as zoos go, this one is pretty small but seemingly well-run, and still makes a welcome change from an overdose on Tuscan culture. This a traditional zoo, displaying everything from penguins to lions, lemurs, hippos and giraffes but what you see will also depend on the weather. At best, the animals can be seen from close to, if, of course, they are in the mood for inspection. On the hottest days some of the animals will hide out, seeking solitude, cover and shade. Activities that may be available range from penguin-feeding to watching the birds of prey fly. The educational side to the zoo includes displays designed to teach children about biodiversity or about the illegal trade in some species, such as exotic parrots. The zoo has recently bought a large strip of land on the western edge of the zoo and is in the process of expansion, in order to give many of the animals the optimal amount of space.

    Pinocchio Park is the other family-friendly option in the Pistoia area, and is set in Collodi, a hamlet outside Pescia. It’s here that the writer Carlo Lorenzini invented his classic children’s tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio. This is essentially a sculpture park inspired by the Pinocchio story, and works best for younger children. Complete with a maze, puppet theatre and café, this is not a spectacular theme park but a quietly retro experience. The grounds are dotted with bronzes celebrating the long-nosed puppet, and full of enchanting views. One of the highlights is the Terrible Dogfish Shark, a huge version of the famous whale that eventually swallows up Pinocchio. Your children can climb into the water-splashing sculpture or clamber to the top, from where there is a lovely view of the sculpture park. You can also extend your visit by taking in neighbouring Villa Garzoni and the Butterfly House (see the Pinocchio website for more, including ticket deals). To reach Pinocchio Park by car from Pistoia, take the A11 highway A11 and turn off at the Chiesina Uzzanese exit. Then continue in the direction of Pescia, and before entering the village, follow the signs to Collodi.

    Address: Pistoia Zoo, via Pieve a Celle Nuova 160/A, 51100 Pistoia
    T: 0573 911219 &

    Pinocchio Park (Parco di Pinocchio), via di San Gennaro 5, 51012 Collodi, Pescia

    Tel: 0572 429342

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