This market is home to Florence’s best loved wild boar, and more souvenirs than you can shake a sticker at. Don’t miss it. And don’t forget to rub the Porcellino to see if his good luck rubs off on you.
In Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, between Piazza della Repubblica and Ponte Vecchio, you’ll find an open-air souvenirs market covered by a loggia. On one side a queue of people will be reaching out to touch the bronze Porcellino fountain. Porcellino means ‘little piglet’ but in reality it’s a wild boar.
The lucky Porcellino
This small market is a special place for Florentines as well as tourists. It has been a commercial hotspot in the city for centuries, and it’s still alive with tradition and, a fair share of superstition too. It’s said that rubbing the Porcellino’s snout brings good fortune. But for a little extra luck, insert a coin in its mouth and hope it falls through the gate over the drain. If it does, you can consider your wish granted.
The market itself sells cheap souvenirs, t-shirts, scarfs and some leather goods – more or less replicas of the ones found in San Lorenzo Market.
A bit of history
The loggia was built in the 16th century to provide a shelter for silk, linen and luxury goods merchants. Later it became the go-to place for straw hats that were on-trende in the XIX century. But since 1640 the real focal point of the loggia has been the Porcellino Fountain, that provided water for the busy market. In those days, water was considered a gift for the population, hence the association with fortune.
The first Porcellino was a Roman marble given to Cosimo I by the Pope. The second was a bronze reproduction to be placed in Palazzo Pitti. The Medici commissioned Pietro Tacca who finished it in 1633 and a few years later it was given its new role as the market’s fountain.
The statue we see today is a copy. The original bronze by Pietro Tacca is now in the Museo Stefano Bardini, while the original Roman marble has taken up residence at the Uffizi.
Did you know?
There’s a spot at the centre of the market pavement with a marble wheel. This is the “stone of scandal” . During the Renaissance the merchants that went broke and failed to repay their debts had to stand in front of everybody and be punished by banging their bottoms on the ground three times.
There are lots of copies of the in France and Belgium among other places. And a reproduction features in “Harry Potter and the Gift from Death”, part 2, inside the ‘Room of Requirement’.
Hans Christian Anderson wrote about him too in his story The Metal Pig: “…just in front of the market-place where vegetables are sold, stands a pig, made of brass and curiously formed. The bright color has been changed by age to dark green; but clear, fresh water pours from the snout, which shines as if it had been polished.”