Mickey Mouse is totally different in Italy, and it's blowing our Disney-loving minds
But in news we just learned that is A) crucial to all non-European Disney fans and B) already household knowledge for Italians, the home of the Renaissance, Pope Francis, and pasta has always known Mickey by a different name: Topolino. And it’s blowing our freaking minds.
Basically, it all began way, way back in 1932, four years after Walt Disney himself began drawing his Steamboat Willie cartoons. Italian editor Mario Nerbini began printing Mickey cartoons of his own, but he didn’t secure the rights to his name or likeness — and so began drawing a character called Topo Lino, which translates to “little mouse” in Italian, for legal reasons.
He eventually did get the Mickey rights from Disney, but since Topo Lino cartoons had already become popular, he made a slight change to calling Mickey himself Topolino … and in the years since, Topo has remained a fan-favorite character in Italian comics. So fan-favorite, in fact, that Topolino was famously the last character to be banned from fascist Italy by Benito Mussolini, just because the dictator’s kids liked the little dude a whole lot.
Since times used to be way cooler and Europeans are darker than us, there are a whole bunch of weird, dark Topolino comics from the ’40s, like “L’inferno di Topolino” (“Mickey Mouse Hell”), a take on the Divine Comedy with Mickey Mouse in the role of Dante, that are still available to read online.
But our favorite Topolino is the Topolino of today, who has become essentially the same character as our American fave thanks to The Walt Disney Company Italy, just with an entirely different name. He currently lords over “La Casa di Topolino” (Italy’s version of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”) with an iron fist (err, white glove), and it is marvelous.
Also of note is that Donald Duck goes by “Paolino Paperino” and Daisy Duck by “Paperina” (typical), and Goofy is “Pippo,” yet for some reason Pluto is still Pluto and Minnie gets to be Minni (close enough).
Eagle-eyed (or just dedicated) Disney fans may have already noticed Topolino items being sold in the Italy section of Epcot, but since we haven’t been to Epcot in years (sob) and rely on excellent YouTube videos like the one above for our Mickey info, this “news” has us shook.