Rubbing the nose of “Il Porcellino” (piglet) at the Mercato Nuovo in Florence is said to guarantee that you will return to the city again. This bronze is a copy of the 17th century original by Pietro Tacca, now in the Museo Bardini.
Florence – Fact Check

What's a bronze piglet doing in Florence?

Photo by Charles Mann

Florence – Fact Check What's a bronze piglet doing in Florence?

If you’re keeping kosher, you might want to give Florence a miss.

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

The humble pig is one of the foundations of Florentine cucina povera, from street-food porchetta – salted, stuffed pork roast – sandwiches to sizzling roast wild boar to fine-cut Tuscan salami.

In the Mercato Nuovo, a copy of the 16th-century bronze statue of Il Porcellino (literally “the piglet”, though the figure is more of a boar) stands guard over the city. I’m invited to place a coin between the boar’s teeth, then rub the snout for good fortune: and the promise of a return visit to Florence.

Meanwhile, at the St. Ambrogio Market, I catch the eye – and gleaming smile – of a seller hawking slices of porchetta off a whole pig: an orange inits mouth. He grins and cuts me a free sample big enough for two to share for a full meal. I finish it and then, undeterred, order the whole thing.

Other stories about Florence

Tourism may be a mainstay of Florence’s economy but it also has a thriving industrial sector based on its history of craftsmanship. Italy’s fashion industry relies on the city for the production of goods such as leather, including shoes, as well as jewelry, embroidery, textiles, ceramics and metalwork.

Peek over the walls and you'll see the real Florence

“Rome is a whore,” says Giambaccio, a ploud Florence native. It has just gone midnight, and we have wandered through the moonstruck streets around Florence’s Piazza San Spirito for hours before winding up here: in a haphazardly cluttered art studio Giambaccio has modeled on a ship’s deck. “She opens her legs for everybody. But Florence...” He mimes chastity – the shutting of two knees – with his fingers. “We are a walled city. We are closed.”