Florence’s Pig Fountain
by Connie Brisson ~
While it’s a common tradition to rub the belly of a laughing buddha for good luck, in FLORENCE, ITALY, the object of affection is a bronze boar.
Il Porcellion or the Bronze Pig Fountain is located in the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, near Ponte Vecchio. Although in Italian it means “the little pig,” the statue is really of a wild boar.
The boar statue was sculpted and cast by Baroque master Pietro Tacca (1577–1640) after a marble original that Pope Pius IV donated to the Medici family in the 1560s. A few years later Ferdinand II de ‘Medici decided to turn it into a fountain and he placed it in the Loggia of the New Market. The fountain’s function was both practical and decorative as it provided water to merchants who traded there (specializing in the sale of luxury fabrics such as silks, brocades, and wool cloths).
The present statue is a modern copy by Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry (cast in 1998) and replaced in 2008, while Tacca’s original 1634 bronze statue was moved to Museo Stefano Bardini in Palazzo Mozzi because the boar’s nose was wearing thin.
The tradition is to put a coin inside of the boar’s gaping mouth (the water washes the coin from the mouth so it ends up in the underlying grate of the fountain) for good luck. As the coin is descending, that’s when you can make a wish! Also according to the original tradition, rubbing the nose of the bronze boar (before leaving Florence) will ensure that one would return to Florence again.
Why a boar? One possible explanation is that the female wild boar is an animal associated with good luck and traditionally women who wanted a son would rub its nose. I also read about a legend regarding the bronze boar where a woman (who could not have children) made a wish on a herd of wild pigs that had passed by their home and a fairy (who happened to hear her) granted her wish and she had a child.
I loved Florence, so the reason I rubbed the boar’s nose was to ensure that I will return. Whether it’s for luck, babies or a promise to return to Florence once again, Il Porcellion is definitely a touristy thing to do.
Connie Brisson is the publisher and editor of Mosaic Mind, Body and Spirit Magazine since 2004. From a simple black and white newsprint format that began in 1996, she transformed it into a beautiful full color, gloss magazine that was distributed throughout Alberta, Canada until the end of 2018 (with a readership of over 100,000). It’s now evolved into an online magazine that continues to help people heal, transform and live their best lives. www.mosaicmagazine.ca