Florence: Home of Pinocchio and Gucci

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By Luci Lizares


Thursday, July 17, 2014

WHEN in Florence, what do we bring home for the husbands and the boys? Florence is famous for its leather so definitely it is a wallet. Men have fewer needs than women. Thank God! There was the Florence Market and the Mercato Nuovo.

As we entered, this boar greets us. What is the significance of this boar? The wild boar is the symbol of the City of Florence. A visitor is supposed to rub the nose of the boar for a sure return to Florence. This is a replica of an original in the Uffizi Gallery. They call him the Porcellino or the piglet. There was a wide array of wallets and bags. Choosing from the many they had on display was a feat. Finally I opted for lamb skin for my three sons.

Done with our purchases, Mae and I continued our walk and stumbled upon this Pinocchio shop. Never did I know that this children’s classic character was written by a Tuscan, Carlo Lorenzini, under the pen name of Collodi. It was in the year 1859 when Collodi met a street urchin who became the inspiration for "Pinocchio."


Collido was in urgent need of money, so "Pinocchio" was born out of inspiration and necessity. In sending in the story, Collodi wrote to the editor: "I am sending you this children's piece. Do with it what you see fit. But if you snatch it up, pay it well, so that I will feel like continuing it.”

The story was called "Avventure di un Burattino" or the adventures of a puppet. Pinocchio is this naughty wooden puppet who walks and talks and whose nose grows longer and longer every time he tells a lie. Pinocchio is the story about common people.

Mastro Ciliegia (Cherry), a common carpenter, finds a piece of wood one cold night and wanted to carve something out of it. "This wood is not valuable: it was one of those logs that are burnt in the winter to make a cheerful blaze and warm the room." The carpenter decides the fate of the piece of wood: "It will do to make the leg of a little table." But the piece of wood started to speak. And Pinocchio was born.

"Pinocchio" was written in installments so the story goes through a wide field of adventure. Pinocchio is a moral tale meant to educate and to build character. Living in the hearts of children and adults for generations, it has been translated in more than 200 languages and dialects.

Do you know that Guccio Gucci is a famous Florentine resident? In 1921, Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods company and small luggage store in his native Florence. His goal was to utilize the master craftsmanship of local Tuscan artisans.

Within a few years, the label enjoyed such success especially among the sophisticated international clientele and the local horse-riding aristocrats seeking the equestrian-inspired collection of bags, trunks, gloves, shoes and belts.

It was in the 50s that gave birth to its trademark green-red-green web stripe. It became instantly the recognizable hallmark of the brand. Opening stores in Milan and New York, Gucci started to build his global empire.

Guccio Gucci died in 1953. His sons Aldo, Vasco, Ugo and Rodolfo took over the business. Gucci products were patronized by iconic movie stars and figures of elegance in the jet set era—Jackie Kennedy, Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly. In the mid-60s, Gucci adopted the legendary interlocking double G logo. The rest is history. In the heart of Florence is the Gucci Museum.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 17, 2014.


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