Most people are familiar with the tale of Cinderella but many don’t realize that the modern version of the story originated in Italy. Courtier and author Giambattista Basile worked for many different Italian princes, including the Doge of Venice. By 1636, he had settled in Naples where he collected local tales and created new ones, all of which were published together in a collection called Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille (The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones). The collection is also known as Pentamerone.
In this collection is a story called “Cenerentola.” The fairytale is about a young woman who has a wicked stepmother, evil stepsisters, is transformed for a ball, falls in love with the king, loses a slipper and includes a city-wide search for the slipper’s owner. Basile’s tale went on to inspire Frenchman Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm – both of whom published their own collections of fairy tales – and even inspired Walt Disney. They each added to and modernized the tale we now know as Cinderella.