Some stories never die. On re-reading them, fairy tales take us back to the emotions of childhood. Here you can relive them!
Street art is an art form that knows no boundaries. Today, murals can burst into the historic centres of large cities or colour the grey of small abandoned villages. They have become a widespread expression used to cover dull walls and bring places back to life, giving visitors the feeling of being part of fantastic stories. There are many places in Italy where you can admire these works of art, in the open air and without having to pay for a ticket! Among these places is Vernante, a small village set in the unspoilt nature of Piedmont. Here you can step back in time, remembering your childhood in the company of the most famous Puppet in the world.
Vernante: a Story to Tell
Vernante is a small village 20 kilometres from Cuneo, in the territory of the Maritime Alps Natural Park, in the mountains of the Vermenagna Valley.
The history of this small place has its roots in prehistoric times when the territory was occupied by the populations that colonised the nearby Valle delle Meraviglie. During the Middle Ages, the village was controlled by Marquises of Saluzzo, followed by Counts of Tenda and the Angevins. On the other hand, the modern era is characterised by the regency of the Savoy family. In the 19th century, Vernante faced the transfer of part of its population to France and America, forced to leave their land searching for food and work. Many of the "vernantesi", who remained in the village, took part in the First and Second World Wars. About 170 people died, and among these, some lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps.
Today, Vernante is a tourist centre visited by families and young. Ideal for people looking for a place to relax, enjoy outdoor sports activities and taste delicious, authentic local food and wine. But what makes this Piedmontese village famous are the many murals depicting the fairy tale of Pinocchio.
Why is Vernante the City of Pinocchio?
The Tuscan Carlo Lorenzini, in art "Collodi", wrote the Tale of Pinocchio. Why, then, is the wooden puppet in Piedmont? The answer is Attilio Mussino, known as "Pinocchio's uncle", the designer who first illustrated Collodi's famous "Adventures of Pinocchio" in 1911.
Attilio Mussino lived in Turin in the 1920s. Margherita Martini, originally from Vernante, worked at his house. When Attilio lost his only son Giorgio and then his wife to a painful illness, he decided to move to Vernante with Margherita, who became his life partner. Here found peace again and the desire to see the world through the eyes of art. He stayed there until he died in 1954.
Years later, Bruno Carletto, called Carlet, and Bartolomeo Cavallera, called Meo, also known as "The Cat and the Fox", decided to pay a special tribute to the famous illustrator. They began to paint on the walls of the houses the scenes illustrated by Mussino in the first edition of Collodi's "Adventures of Pinocchio", transforming Vernante into an enormous open-air picture book.
"The wood, in which Pinocchio is carved, is Humanity".
The Murals of Vernante: The Tale of Pinocchio
This funny puppet, meticulously illustrated by Attilio Mussino, has entered everyone's heart. This tale continues to inspire young and old alike. It is the story of Mastro Geppetto, a poor carpenter who carves a wood piece, gives it life, transforms into a puppet and then a child. The story symbolises hope and magic that has always made people dream and reflect.
Pinocchio is the imperfect child who throws tantrums, gets into trouble, angers his father, trusts the bad guys. But he also meets the good guys like the philosophical Talking Cricket and the beautiful Blue Fairy. They help him get through his misadventures. After all, we are all a little Pinocchio, mainly because of his lies!
Vernante preserves this timeless tale and gives it to us with more than one hundred and fifty beautiful murals. Here the impossible becomes possible. A walk with the Cat and Fox, a chat with the Talking Cricket, the Fire-Eater's Puppet Show, the follies of Toyland and the enchantment of the Blue Fairy.
The scenes of Pinocchio's daring adventures blend perfectly with the characteristic landscape of the village, so much that the puppet is also portrayed on doors and windows. At the entrance to Vernante, the fairytale begins with Pinocchio welcoming us with a big smile, a monument by the "Bertaina brothers". Walking through the village streets is living the fairytale as a protagonist with Pinocchio, who takes us by the hand and takes us on a journey into his fantasy world. Finally, he takes us up to the tomb of his famous illustrator, where the puppet is a statue in tears for the death of his beloved "uncle".
The Pinocchio Museum
In addition to the incredible open-air exhibition, in Vernante you can visit the Museum dedicated to Mussino. Here you can admire numerous plates, paintings, sketches and books. Above all, there are the illustrations of the first edition of Pinocchio, dated 1911, and the 33 illustrated leaves of the last edition of "Pinocchio Animato", which appeared in "il Giornalino" in 1952, which the artist set in Vernante. In this way, Attilio Mussino expressed the strong bond with this small village that had become his home and had given him back the light-heartedness of Pinocchio and his Adventure.
Vernante: What to see...
After a walk in the historical centre of the village, among the gorgeous colours of the murals, Pinocchio shows us other beauties of the place that hosts him. Not to be missed is a visit to the Tourusela, a beautiful tower built by Pietro Balbo in 1280. Today, a medieval fortress is Castello Lascaris, whose peculiarity is a central tower, surrounded by the ruins of the high walls.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna Della Valle is splendid, with 19th-century decorations. The parish church of San Nicolao, dating from 1200, contains numerous sacred paintings and sculptures worthy of note.
... What to taste
A visit to Vernante can only end with a taste of its gastronomic delicacies, traditional Piedmontese specialities. Vernante is famous for its "Siule piene" baked onions stuffed with potatoes, leeks, chard, spinach, and rice. Also tasty are the "raviole 't Vernant", ravioli from Vernante, stuffed with leeks and potatoes, and the "turta 't cusa e melia", the pumpkin and meliga (corn flour) cake.