located in Gragnano, in the province of Lucca, the imposing oak of the witches is no less than amazing in its magnificence. Over 25 meters high, with a circumference of 4.5 meters and a crown of about 40 meters in diameter, the oak of the witches was a source of inspiration for some passages of The Adventures of Pinocchio. Story of a puppet by Carlo Collodi. Its 600 years of life, its colossal dimensions and its supernatural beauty have allowed the oak to enter the list of Italy’s monumental trees.
The popular legend
The branches of the plant, contrary to the natural tendency of oaks to extend in height, develop horizontally. This particular conformation has given rise to the legend according to which witches gathered on its branches: hence the name of “witches oak”. It is in fact on the gnarled branches that the witches met to discuss their magic and spells and to give life to their usual sabbaths. Forced to support a considerable weight, therefore, the branches of the tree ended up developing in length. The foliage of the oak has thus become so large that it has become the largest in Italy.
The oak of the witches and collodi
From legend to fairytale. It is said that Carlo Collodi, father of the most famous puppet in the world, used to write the story of Pinocchio in the shadow of the majestic foliage of the witches’oak. To pay homage to that pleasant shelter, Collodi makes the tree the protagonist of a passage from his novel: when Pinocchio is hanged by the killers in the Great Oak, the plant described is the oak of the witches. For this reason the tree is also called “Pinocchio’s oak”.
A FIGHTING TREE Beyond legends and fairy tales, over the years the oak has proven to be combative and stubborn. It has in fact survived disease, natural calamities and even the fury of the Nazis who wanted to make firewood out of it. And perhaps during his long and incredible life it could enjoy a little help… from the witches!