Coming to Florence, if you pass by Piazza Duomo it is impossible not to notice the wind that always blows in the square (which in winter turns into a fierce north wind).
That wind is well known to the Florentines, who call it the “rifrullo of the devil”, a curious atmospheric phenomenon that, like many of the “quirks” of Florence, hides its origins in an eerie legend!
The legend says that one day, we do not know the era, the devil was chasing a priest on the streets of Florence trying in every way to steal his soul. Once they got in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the poor priest said to the devil, before suffering eternal damnation, he asked the devil to give him one last wish: he wanted to pray for one last time. The devil agreed to the request of the priest, who entered the Church. The devil meanwhile leaned against the Cathedral, waiting for the priest to come out of it.
The priest obviously took advantage of the distraction of the devil to escape, fleeing through another of the many doors of the Cathedral, that Lucifer without noticing.
Meanwhile Satan, bored by the long wait, he began to puff, raising such a breeze in the square. Once discovered the deception with which the priest had made fun of him, the evil breath turned into a real whirlwind.
Since then, the rifrullo devil has never ceased: even the devil’s breath now waits in vain in the square that his chosen bait from the Cathedral…
Florence is a city rich not only in art and history, but also in curiousities and intriguing secrets.
Today we will speak about the mystery related to those ancient shrines dedicated to a very important product of the city’s both culture and economy.
If you have been to Florence, probably wandering in the streets of the center you could have seen some “buchette” (small openings) on the ground floor of the facades of palaces.
These small holes are all very similar: they have the shape of a small door with a higher arch, decorated by a dropped frame, and closed by a wooden door.
What were those little holes for? Well these are “wine tabernacles”.
Their origin dates back to many centuries ago: at the end of XVth century the trade in textiles and linen, a driving engine of the Florentine medieval and Renaissance economy, began to encounter the fierce competition of the northern countries, especially England.
The nobles, the bankers and the Florentine merchants sought new markets and decided to invest their capitals in land and possessions. The new landowners invested on the typical products of the area and particularly on wine. Those little holes are the result of strong investment in wine production.
Through these openings the producers directly sold their wine on the street, without other intermediaries, such as taverns. The little holes were placed on the ground floor at the same level as the palaces’ inner cellars to allow a quick and easy sale.
Try to knock when you find one, maybe a good merchant of ancient times might make you taste the new wine 😉
One of the best things about Florence is that at every corner, if you raise your head and look around, you always have the opportunity to discover something new.
And we’re not just talking about beautiful churches and old buildings, but of curiosities mostly linked to particular stories and legends, like the one we’re about to tell you:
Near the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore you can find the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. In the side of the tower overlooking Via dei Cerretani you will notice that there is a “petrified head” embedded in the bricks: This is the “Berta”.
Two very different stories tell us about its likely origin:
According to one school of thought, it seems that this head is there from 1326 because of Cecco d’Ascoli (an astrologer condemned to the stake). The man was led to death and casted a curse to a woman who, denying him water, had prevented him to save himself from the flames (he had made a pact with the devil).
According to others, Berta would have been a greengrocer who gave the church a bell, so that it could be used to alert citizens with its chimes about the opening and closing of the city gates.
This small bust is therefore a sign of recognition of the Florentines to Berta.
Which of the two stories is true? We do not know, it’s up to you to choose what to believe 😉
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.