Florence represents one of the most charming and important art cities in Italy, visited every year by thousands of tourists from all around the world.
Florentia, this is its ancient name, is the town that marked the history of our country and of Europe, it’s no coincidence that Florence became, for a few years, the capital of Italy.
Cradle of Italian language and culture, it represents the symbol of Renaissance as well, Florence experienced the greatest splendor during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century in reason of its political power and of its rich cultural and artistic flowering.
During the Medici Dynasty and in particular during the Lordship of Lorenzo il Magnifico and Cosimo I, the town became one of the most important cultural poles of attraction in Europe.
Florence is a wonderful city, in fact it doesn’t requires a lot of work to fall in love with it. This Italian city is a living museum, where every street, alley, and building is full of history.
The undisputed charm of the city of Florence comes not only from all the works of art you can see in every street, but also from the imperceptible hidden details, elements that can escape the eye at first glance.
I am now going to reveal you one of these hidden elements that will surely blow your mind:
On the corner between Piazza Santissima Annunziata and Via dei Servi there is the Palazzo Grifoni (more known as Palazzo Budini-Gattai), which is a red brick palace. When you observe the palace from the square you might notice that on the facade of this building there is a particular window that is always open.
One of the most less known Florentine legends relates that the Grifoni family lived in this building for centuries and it is said that toward the end of the sixth century, one of the Grifoni sons went off to war (which was not something uncommon at the time) and was so forced to leave her beloved wife.
The beautiful lady ran to the window to greet him one last time and to watch him leaving. The legend tells us that the wife spent all of her time sitting nearby the window, hoping to see her husband again. The love of her life never returned home, and when she died, the window was shut.
There are two different versions to this story:
Some say that the neighbors of the two lovers were so touched by the profound love story that they decided to reopen the window.
Other people say that when the window was closed, objects inside the room began to fly and furniture began to shake. As a servant reopened the window, everything returned normal. This makes us understand that this woman’s love is still there and her spirit still waits for her husband’s return and will probably wait forever.
No one knows the woman’s name and no one will ever know which one of these two stories is true.
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 😉
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