Florence, the city of tranquility has many treasures hidden amongst its midst. One such treasure is nestled in the very heart of the historic centre in the renowned Mercato Nuovo Florentine market, the Porcellino.
The latter has piqued the attention and curiosity of millions of people all over the world who have travelled miles upon miles to check out the bronze fountain for themselves.
The bronze boar
The II Porcellino or “the little pig”, as the locals fondly call it, is in fact a bronze fountain of a wild boar at the side of the new market. It was sculpted and cast by Pietro Tacca, the Baroque maestro.
According to local traditions and beliefs, good fortune follows those who rub the pig/boar’s snout.
Some tourists have even gone so far as to place a coin in its jaws, in hopes that the water would wash away the coin from the boar’s mouth into the grate below. Doing so would mean that all your wishes would come true and you would get to visit Florence again.
Legend has it that there was once a couple that had tried to have children but to no avail. The husband blamed his wife for not being able to give him an heir.
One day, the wife saw a litter of wild pigs with babies passing by.
Out of desperation, she lamented out loud that she could have a baby of her own like the pigs.
The couple was elated when they learnt that the wife’s wish had been granted by a fairy.
Soon, the wife birthed a baby that looked more pig than human but the parents loved him nonetheless as their own. The baby grew to be very clever and eloquent. However, when it was time for him to get married, the local girls all shunned him. There was however, one simple girl who saw him for what he truly was and married him.
On their wedding night, the girl was pleasantly surprised to find her husband transform into a handsome young man.
He would however turn back into a boar during the daytime. The man made his wife vow to never let out his secret, lest he become a boar permanently and she turn into a frog.
However, the wife couldn’t contain her excitement and revealed the news to her mother, which soon spread like wildfire.
Thus the man stayed a boar forever and his wife turned into a frog.
The bronze fountain now stands in the exact same spot that the boar frequented for drinking water and chatting with his wife. This legend circles around several life lessons such as one ought to be careful of what one wishes for, love can tame any beast and one ought to learn to control one’s tongue.
The popular children’s author Hans Christian Andersen in 1846, authored a story inspired by the bronze fountain titled, The Bronze Hog.
The story follows a poor young boy who falls asleep on the back of the bronze boar, only to be awakened by the boar, alive and in full glory.
The latter takes the boy on a trip down the Florentine streets in the middle of the night.
The Porcellino has also been featured in several movies such as 2001’s Hannibal, 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.
A tip for the hopeful
Make sure you shell out a little extra for a shot at good fortune. The heavier the coin is, the more chances of it falling into the grate.
The Porcellino is without doubt one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. So what are you waiting for? Go see the lucky pig in all its glory, shine its snout and see for yourself if your luck pans out.