He starts out as a sentient log of wood that for some reason is among Maestro Cherry's logs. Maestro Cherry, whose real name is Antonio, wants to use this log to create a leg for his table. When he wants to axe the log, it asks him not to be that tough. He doubts whether the log is actually talking and tries to plane it down and cut it, but he ends up so scared that he faints.
His friend Geppetto comes to ask a recovered Maestro Cherry to give him a log of wood so he can create a puppet. The log calls Geppetto "Polentina", since calling Geppetto so makes him angry; Geppetto covers his baldness with a yellow wig that resembles "Polenta", cornmeal mush. Geppetto wrongly believes Cherry called him Polentina and fights him until they have their opponent's wigs (Cherry also dons a wig, albeit a gray one). They reconcile, but Pinocchio lances over Geppetto's body. Then Geppetto and Maestro Cherry fight again, but reconcile again. Geppetto goes with the log to his poor house. Geppetto had told his friend that he wanted to travel to the world with him to earn some bread and some wine, but among his intentions was to create "a son" for him. He goes carving the log into a puppet and calls it Pinocchio. As the puppet is done, it annoys Geppetto and eventually kicks him.
When Geppetto finishes Pinocchio, he goes to teach his puppet to walk, but the puppet escapes when he learns enough to walk. He goes until some carabinieri stop him. Geppetto arrives and intends to reprimand Pinocchio and grab him by ears that don't exist (later retconned to be small). Everyone in the street thinks Geppetto is abusing Pinocchio and Geppetto gets arrested. Pinocchio plays outside and returns Geppetto's house. The Talking Cricket, who claims to have lived more than 100 years scolds Pinocchio for his hedonistic mentality. Pinocchio dislikes the reprimands and tries to expel the Cricket. When the Cricket says Pinocchio has a wooden head, Pinocchio drops a hammer and throws it at it. He did not want to kill it, but the shot was accurate and it did no effort to dodge the hammer.
When the night comes, Pinocchio gets hungry and tries to bake an egg, but a chick breaks free of said egg and flies. This makes Pinocchio acknowledge that the Cricket was right. There is no more food, so despite the thunders and the wind Pinocchio tries to ask to a neighbor for food just to be the target of a bucket of water. Weakened, Pinocchio sits in a chair near the stove and puts his feet there, falling asleep and being unaware that his feet burned.
Geppetto returns the next day and knocks the door. Awakened, Pinocchio tries to go for the door, but cannot help because he lost his feet. Pinocchio tries to explain Geppetto that he lost his feet and wrongly attributes Geppetto's cat to have eaten them. Geppetto doesn't believe him and decides to go to his house through a window. When he sees Pinocchio, he feels compassion for his puppet. Pinocchio tries to tell him his experience, but Geppetto only learns that Pinocchio is hungry, so he releases three pears and gives them to Pinocchio. The puppet asks his father to peel them and remove their core and the latter does so reluctantly, but Pinocchio ends up eating all. Geppetto decides not to repair Pinocchio's feet as a punishment, but after Pinocchio's promises to go to school finally accepts to repair them, giving Pinocchio better feet. Geppetto does clothing of flowery paper, shoes from tree crust and a cap made of dough. Seeing that the schoolbook was missing, Geppetto goes and sells his coat to get the schoolbook; it was a sacrifice considering that there was winter then. Pinocchio feels grateful for such sacrifice.
However, when Pinocchio goes to school, he gets attracted by the Grand Marionette Theater and decides to go there. After learning that he had to pay to enter, he sells the schoolbook to a ragpicker to be able to buy the entry. When he enters, the (sentient) puppets are acting, but get distracted when they spot Pinocchio and all start to be so euphoric about his fellow puppet that the show gets ruined and Mangiafuoco, the puppeteer, becomes angry. Mangiafuoco decides to use Pinocchio as a fuel to cook some sheep meat. Pinocchio asks his father's help, which makes Mangiafuoco sneeze, which means Pinocchio has earned Mangiafuoco's mercy. Mangiafuoco decides to use another puppet, but Pinocchio decides to beg mercy and asks to take their place, so Mangiafuoco decides not to cook much the sheep meat. Pinocchio and Mangiafuoco talk about Geppetto, whose poverty and his sacrificial nature get Mangiafuoco's compassion. He gives Pinocchio five gold coins as a gift.
The Fox and the Cat find him and fake kindness so they can steal the coins. They lie about a place supposedly called "Field of Miracles". Those animals feign to have handicaps to beg and to have a harmless facade. They manage to deceive the gullible Pinocchio's trust. They lead him to the Red Lobster Inn to have some food and after that Pinocchio sleeps until midnight, because he is awakened by the landlord, who tells Pinocchio that the Fox and the Cat had gone.