Florence’s Favourite Pig


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The Porcellino of Florence. Photo by milky.way

One of the most visited and most famous marketplaces in Florence is the Mercato Nuovo. This attractive, covered marketplace was actually built by Cosimo de’Medici, and is located in the historic centre of Florence, not far from the Ponte Vecchio. It was once home to all manner of valuable products, but now it is home to leather good and tourist souvenirs. Oh yes, and a great big bronze pig…

This pig, which has been named the ‘Porcellino of Florence’ (porcellino literally means piglet) is actually neither a pig nor a piglet, but a boar, perhaps being called as such to avoid the association of boars as rather aggressive and destructive animals. The history of this particular statue goes back to the 1600s, when the great Baroque sculptor Pietro Tacca was commissioned to create a bronze statue based on the ‘original’ pig; a Hellenistic marble boar.

Completed around 1630, it was originally placed at Palazzo Pitti, before being moved to the Mercato Nuovo in 1642. The statue you see today is not the real Tacca creation, but actually a copy, made in 1999. But don’t worry; the real 17th century sculpture can be found in the Museo Bardini in Palazzo Mozzi.

This pig, despite being a copy of the original, has become a quirky, yet still incredibly popular attraction in Florence. Not only is it an incredible statue to look it, it is also said to bring luck to those who drop money into the pig’s jaws. If the coin falls down into the water below (and not onto the grate), then you will receive good luck.

Here’s a hint though: only the heavier coins usually fall down into the water, so you may have to fork out that little bit extra for your good fortune! All of the coins collected are distributed to charities in Florence. However, there’s also another little ritual that you can take part in, and that’s rubbing the pig’s snout! This ritual goes back hundreds of years, and by touching the snout, you are said to be ensured a return visit to Florence. So many people have rubbed the pig’s snout, that it has become very shiny indeed!

Why not see this lucky pig for yourself? Take our fantastic walking tour of the city and see Florence’s wild boar fountain in all its glory, as well as loads of other beautiful sights and famous monuments. Get ready to shine that pig’s snout!

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