Florence is full of streets and squares that have a special anecdote from
to tell. There are so many oddities about the city that amaze and
fun. Between fascinating stories and legends about monuments and streets of the center,
Here are 10 curiosities specially selected for the most original visitors!
1. The front side of the Church of Santa Maria Novella
Every day thousands of tourists visit Santa Maria Novella, but not all of them
stop at the front door. On its sides there are two objects that have
truly unique appearance: an armillary sphere and a sundial,
used by the monk Ignazio Danti in 1500 for studies on the
conciliation between the astronomical equinox and the Julian calendar. The armilla is
composed of two graduated metallic circles, whose orientation allows
identify the day of the solstice and the equinox. The sundial has three bars
whose shadow, cast on the dial, indicates the hour of dawn, noon and
sunset. To set up a new calendar, it was decided to eliminate 9
days: the year was 1582 when Danti officially established the Calendar
2. The clock that turns backwards
In Florence there is a clock that marks the opposite time: that of the
The backside of Duomo. Made by Paolo Uccello, one of the greatest
artists of the Italian Renaissance, is located behind the altar of the Cathedral,
it is painted and works thanks to a complex mechanism beyond the wall. The
dial is formed by 24 hours expressed in Roman numerals and in order
increasing, but the hand moves counterclockwise by copying the movement
of the shadow in a sundial, this because in 1443 the day began
the evening and the hours were counted according to the liturgical calendar, moreover,
the length of an hour changed according to the seasons. Therefore the
twenty-fourth hour does not indicate midnight but sunset,
according to the Italian hora and, since the time of sunset is not always the same,
the watch is adjusted several times during the year.
3. Michelangelo's graffiti
In Piazza della Signoria, in front of Palazzo Vecchio and behind the David
Of Michelangelo, you can admire another sign of the artist: on the wall we can see the portrait of a man in profile who boasts the Buonarroti's signature. Even if you do not know who the face belongs to, it is said that the Master was often stopped by a gentleman who did not
stopped talking.While listening, Michelangelo decided to deceive the time by carving the face of the man with a hand behind his back.
Since then, the graffiti is called by the Florentines the importuno. Another story
claims instead that the face belongs to a man condemned to the pillory,
a rather common practice in the Middle Ages.
4. Why are there only goldsmiths on the Ponte Vecchio?
On Ponte Vecchio you can find the most beautiful and prestigious shops of
goldsmiths of Florence, this because, in 1593, the Grand Duke Ferdinando approved a decree that aimed to "ennoble" the bridge that at the time was home to butchers
and vegetables. In fact, since 1345, the city authority ordered them to meet up on the bridge
to safeguard the cleanliness of the historic center by eliminating the waste of the
feed directly in the Arno river. But when in 1500 the
Vasari Corridor was built there was the eviction of the beccai in favor of jewelers,
able to pay a greater tribute.
To be more precise, in honor of the goldsmith, a fountain with the bust of the great maestro Benvenuto Cellini was placed at the center of the bridge, he was considered the most
great Florentine goldsmith, by the sculptor Raffaello Romanelli.
5. Bucaiolo and Bischero, the most used terms in Florence
Bucaiolo and bischero are among the most used adjectives by the Florentines.
Both have a negative meaning: the first term indicates a
sodomy and is used as an injury or denotes a person
shamelessly lucky. But, until recently, bucaiolo was the
nickname of the mens who took care of the collection of sand used in making
building, they were used to dig poles 4/5 meters long and formed holes on the bed
of the Arno: from here, the name of the bucket, literally the one who pits!
The Bischeri instead were a very rich Florentine noble family, so much from
possess the land on which in 1294 the government decided to build the
Duomo. Since they did not give in to the price, the authority expropriated all
possessions to then compensate the family with a few Fiorini, the currency
current of that time. Another version reports instead that it was a fire to
destroy the area, leaving the wealthy family in misery.
Since then Bischero is the typical
appellation addressed to naive and not very clever people.
6. The bees that can not be counted
At the center of Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, engraved in the back of the
pedestal of the equestrian statue Ferdinando I de 'Medici, there is one
swarm of bees arranged in concen circles with the queen bee in the center, symbol of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and surrounded by industrious bees that represent the Florentines, always loyal to power. It is said that it is impossible to count these insects without touching them or indicating them, but whoever succeeds will be invested by luck.
7. The wrong stone of Palazzo Pitti
Looking palazzo Pitti, on the left it is possible ti admire a very long stone sided by another one much more shorter. It seems that it was commissioned by Luca Pitti, the founder of the palace whose family was the main enemy of Medici family.
The longest represents himself, while the shortest represents his enemies.
Based on the legend, he also wanted that the windows of his family house were larger than the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, the residence of Cosimo de 'Medici, and that the building could ideally contain it.
8. Madonna del Puzzo
At the intersection of Via Toscanella and Borgo S. Jacopo there is a niche with a head of a woman intent to plug her nose while a rump runs on her arm. It is the Madonna del Puzzo, the work of the Tuscan sculptor Mario Mariotti, to protest "against negligence and degradation of the historical center of Florence" and the location of a rubbish bin in the alley. There are also those who say that it was put there to "sensitize" the uncivilized that used the alley as a urinal.
9.The upside down balcony
In Borgo Ognissanti, at number 12, you can see a balcony that is definitely out of the ordinary, with all the architectural elements on the contrary. The reason of this strange thing seems to be a bickering between Baldovinetti, the owner of the house who wanted a big balcony, and Alessandro de 'Medici, who with a' 530 ordinance forbade architectural elements too bulky because the streets of the city were narrow. The noble persecuted the governor and and in the end he gave the permission based on a condition: it had to be built upside down. With this move Alexander wanted to discourage Baldovinetti, but, as history teaches, obstinacy had won.
10. The window always open
In the the square of Santissima Annunziata stands Palazzo Grifuni which, on the right hand side has a window that is always open. The reason is linked to a very sad love story. The wife of a member of the Grifuni family owes responsibility to her husband who was called to arms just after the wedding. Since then he waited for his spouse right out of that window, but he never returned from the war. When the woman died, the window was closed, but strange phenomena began to manifest themselves in the house, and for this reason it was decided to no longer stop her, in memory of her unfortunate love.