We Rub the Nose of a Pig in Florence… Armchair Travel

Peggy eagerly rubs Little Pig’s Nose in Florence.
Kathy and I quickly join in the nose rubbing exercise.

So, here’s a serious question: With all of the beautiful art in Florence, why in the world would we spend our time rubbing the nose of a pig?

I’ll be brief. We were told if we rubbed the nose of the pig, or the snout of the boar if you prefer, we would come back to Florence.  Considering we had six hours to explore everything Florence had to offer, we looked on our nose polishing efforts as a guarantee of a return trip.

Il Porcellino, or Little Pig, as he is known, was sculpted way back in 1612 and was based on an original marble pig of Greek origin dating back to who knows when. The present pig is a copy of the copy. You can tell by his shiny nose that lots of people share our desire to come back to Florence. Apparently rubbing his snout for a return trip dates back to the 1700s.

Little Pig is housed in an attractive marketplace that was built by Cosimo de’ Medici between 1547-1551. Bad merchants, who had the misfortune of going bankrupt, were spanked here before being sent off to prison. I couldn’t find a description on what the spanking entailed.

The overflowing Mercato Nuovo or the Straw Market where bad merchants were once spanked. I doubt that they were ever spanked for cheating a customer.
It’s only right that I should close this post with a photo of Little Pig’s shiny snout.

NEXT POST: A teaser from our present journey around North America in Quivera, our 22-foot RV.

14 thoughts on “We Rub the Nose of a Pig in Florence… Armchair Travel

    • It’s been a long time since I have been there, Greg, before all the strict rules were put in place. But I imagine that a penalty like that would do more to discourage littering than a sign threatening a thousand dollar fine. 🙂 –Curt

  1. Had we seen the pig, I certainly would have rubbed its snout. I would love to see Florence again.
    There is a very similar figure in front of the Sydney [Australia] Hospital. A boar – a male – has a nose rubbed shiny but there was another part of his anatomy rubbed equally bright. I wonder what the symbolism was there. I rubbed neither part.

  2. That is a tradition that you find pretty much everywhere in Itay. In my hometown, Turin, there is bronze bust of Christopher Columbus and leged has it that if you touch his pinkie you get good luck. In Padova you have to jump across the metal chain along the canal, in Verona you have to touch the brest of the statue of Juliet, in Rome you have to toss a coin into the basin of Trevi’s Fountain….we have a lot. Hope you can manage to find them all

  3. Well, did the pig rubbing bring you good luck? a return trip? I mean what’s the follow-up here? Or did you just get your hand dirty while bonding with a Florentine porker? (I love this post, by the way!)

    • Laughing. It’s the equivalent of throwing a coin into Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Or into a wishing well. It’s an old tradition, Rusha, going back at least a couple of hundred years. Just fun. I doubt Piggy is getting his nose rubbed much in this time of the pandemic! –Curt

  4. A sign of the times is that I started thinking about all the hands that have touched the snout. *sigh* Oh, for our old innocent world again, where viruses really did only give you an upset stomach or the sniffles. It’s great to see your faces here and thanks for the journey to Florence.

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