In this lesson, we will talk about a fascinating topic in which you will be able to see a part of your childhood. Indeed, we decided to tell you about the most famous fairy tales in Italy that all of us, as children, heard time and time again. Many of these fairy tales are not of Italian origin, but they are simple translations; therefore, we are sure that you know them as well!



The first fairy tale we want to talk about is probably one of the best-known fairy tales in the world. What if we told you that it is about a young servant that has a wicked stepmother and two evil stepsisters and that dreams of going to the royal ball dressed as a princess? Have you guessed it already? We are talking about Cinderella. It is an extremely ancient fairy tale, whose origins date back to the period of Ancient Egypt. However, the modern version of this fairy tale is the one re-elaborated by the Italian writer Giambattista Basile who lived between the 16th and the 17th century and who titled the fairy tale “La gatta Cenerentola” which was later included in the famous collections by Charles Perrault and by the Brothers Grimm.

Did you know that in Basile’s original version, Cinderella kills her own stepmother that is later substituted by an even worse stepmother? Whereas, the film adaptation by Walt Disney is based on Perrault’s version of the fairy tale in which the murder of Cinderella’s stepmother was removed.

In Italy, everyone, both adults and children, knows the fairy tale of Cinderella also thanks to the success that the Walt Disney movies had. These movies have accompanied many of us during our childhood!

A question for you: are you familiar with the fairy tale of Cinderella? Is it famous in your country too?

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The second fairy tale we want to tell you about starts like this: “Once upon a time, there was a sweet little girl whose grandmother was very sick. Her mother told her: take this focaccia bread and this infusion to your grandmother: they will do her well! And the little girl left to go to her grandmother’s house”. But then, either because sending your 5-year-old daughter alone into the wood is not exactly a brilliant idea or because you let her walk around dressed in a fiery red hood, dear mother, you could not really expect that everything was going to go smoothly. Indeed, the story ends with a wicked wolf that eats the little girl and her grandmother, but they are later miraculously saved by a hunter. Have you understood who we are talking about? Certainly, there is a version of this fairy tale in your country as well: here, in Italy, it is titled Cappuccetto Rosso. It is known in the whole world thanks to Perrault’s version, titled “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge”, but also thanks to the Brothers Grimm’s one, “Rotkäppchen”. Let us know in the comments what is the title of this fairy tale in your language!

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Originally written by the Brothers Grimm, the third fairy tale we want to illustrate is about a gorgeous young girl that, also, in this case, has an evil stepmother who is utterly vain (but why in every fairy tale does the female protagonist have a widowed father who decides to get married again with a demon? Who knows) and does not tolerate that her stepdaughter has become more beautiful than her. Then, she asks her mirror (who obviously can speak) who is the most beautiful woman of the kingdom, and the mirror answers Snow White! And, here begins the fury of the stepmother who orders a hunter to take her stepdaughter into the wood to kill her, and she also asks him to bring back her lungs and her liver as proof of Snow White’s death. Well, after all, who would not want to see their stepdaughter’s lungs and liver to make sure she is dead? But, hey, all normal.

Anyway, the story continues with the hunter who feels sorry for Snow White and lets her go into the wood where she finds a house inhabited by seven dwarfs who work in a mine. And the rest is history. Did you know that Walt Disney chose this specific fairy tale to produce its first full-length film in 1937? Let us know in the comments what is the name of this fairy tale in your country!

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This next fairy tale is probably less famous, maybe because it did not have a very successful film adaptation, but, anyway, it is still one the best-known fables written by Esopo, a remarkable writer of Ancient Greece. The fable was widely spread in the Latin world thanks to Fedro’s translation. Fedro was a notable Latin writer of the 1st century A.D who was famous precisely for his fables.

The fable we are talking about is titled “The Fox and the grapes”.
Fedro’s version recites: “A hungry fox was jumping as high as it could to try and reach a bunch of grape hanging from a tall grapevine. Since the fox could not reach the grapes, it said: “They are not ripe yet; I do not want to pick them if they are still unripe!”. Those who diminish in words what they cannot do should apply this paradigm to themselves.” According to tradition, the fable ends with a sentence, the so-called moral: a maxim that generalizes the meaning of the story and has the goal of teaching the reader something. In this case, it teaches us that we should not lessen the goals we cannot reach right away. It is a fable that is very present in the popular imagery to the point that it is used often as a term of reference in similar situations, and not only in Italy! Have you already heard of this fable? Tell us in the comments if there is a specific version in your language!

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The last fairy tale we are going to talk about is extremely famous also because of the incredible Disney movie that came out in 2010. It is the story of Rapunzel, firstly collected by the Brothers Grimm in the first half of the 19th century and since then famous worldwide. Everybody knows the story narrated by Walt Disney, however, you should know that the original version is slightly different. In the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, a young married couple lived next to a beautiful garden that was protected by high walls and belonged to a powerful witch, Lady Gothel. The couple strongly desired a baby, and when the woman eventually got pregnant, she felt a great desire to eat some of the bellflowers that grew in the old witch’s garden. Therefore, her husband climbed over the high walls to get a small bunch. However, during the second intrusion into the garden, the man was caught by the fearsome witch who allowed him to go back home with the bunch of bellflowers as long as, once the baby was born, they gave it to her. Well, we all know the rest of the story: a beautiful baby girl named Rapunzel was born and given to the witch who imprisoned her in a tower, in which the witch went in and out using the only present window and the incredibly long hair of the young girl. One day, by chance, a prince was passing by and heard the beautiful Rapunzel singing, and he was utterly enchanted. After a series of adventures, the prince and Rapunzel got married and lived happily ever after! And what about you? Were you familiar with this fairy tale? Is it famous in your country as well? As always, let us know in the comments!

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Here we are at the end of this journey through fairy tales: if you want to learn more about Italian fairy tales, check out the link below to buy a fantastic book that includes tens of fairy tales and fables that everyone in Italy knows. Please, let us know if you are interested in this specific topic!

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But, if you want to have a laugh and relax a little bit, don’t miss the video in which we explain some Italian memes: it is hilarious!

P.S. If you like the t-shirt that Graziana is wearing in this video, you can buy it in our online store: LearnAmo Collection!

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