Florence’s Porcellino Fountain

Florence’s Porcellino Fountain

Florence’s Porcellino Fountain is a traditional symbol of good luck and one of Florence’s most visited and “touched” attractions. There are copies of it all over the world: in Belgian’s Enghien Castle Park, in Aix-en-Provence, France, and two in Munich, Germany. Florence’s Porcellino Fountain sits on the left side of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo. The porcellino, or piglet, is actually a boar. The original was sculpted in Hellenistic marble given to Cosimo I by Pope Pius IV in 1560. Today it can be found at the Uffizi Gallery, because Cosimo II decided it needed to be honored more appropriately. In 1612 he commissioned Pietro Tacca to make a bronze copy of it to beautify Palazzo Pitti. Considered one of Giambologna’s most talented students, Tacca’s copy was so perfect that even its fur seemed real. It wasn’t finished until 1633. Ferdinando II de’ Medici decided to place Florence’s Porcellino Fountain near the Loggia and make it a fountain (around 1640).

porcellino-marketFlorence’s Porcellino Fountain: lots of luck!

The statue also had a practical purpose: to quench the thirst of the silk and fabric merchants who gathered at the market each day. Clemente Papi redid the octagonal base in 1857 due to wear. In 1988 the Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli fused the fountain back together and documented it with an inscription on the statue’s right edge. One of the most popular traditions is the “magic” touch of the Porcellino’s nose. They say that it can bring you a lot of luck if you first touch its snout (which is the shiniest part of the animal). The ritual is to put a coin in the boar’s mouth. If it falls through the grate and into the running water, it will bring you lots of luck. Florence’s Porcellino Fountain makes part of our Classic Tour of Florence!

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Metal Pig

Hans Christian Andersen (author of The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, and other tales) dedicated a fairy tale to the Porcellino called “The Metal Pig”. A poor foundling falls asleep on the porcellino’s back. During the night the fountain comes alive and starts running all over Signoria Square and Uffizi Gallery, showing the young boy a magic world. Cosimo’s horse wines, Michelangelo’s David whirls his slingshot, Medusa’s head screams deathly. Inside Uffizi Gallery all the painting’s characters become alive under the astonished eyes of the young boy. The porcellino also appears in the Harry Potter movies “The Chamber of Secrets” and “The Deathly Hallows”. It decorates the entrance hall at Hogwarts in the first and is seen in the Room of Requirement in the second.