Your cartYour cart

7 curiosities you probably don't know about Florence

About Florence


1. The riddle of Galileo

Everyone knows the story of Galileo, who was convicted for expressing his heliocentrism's theories. After his death, the Pope did not want him to be buried as a Christian inside the Holy Cross Church. This is why the priests buried him in a secret place of the church. The riddle is that, when the body was going to be moved in 1737, two more bodies were found inside the tomb. It is said that the man was one of his loyal pupils, while the woman his daughter.

2. The horned bull

If you look carefully at one of the sides of the Dome of Florence, you will see the head of a bull, right on the top of a column close to Via Ricasoli.

Why is it there? the most popular legend says that the bulls' head is there as a witness of a betrayal. According to the legend, a master carpenter, who was working in the construction site of the cathedral, had a relationship with the wife of a baker, whose shop was right next door. When the baker found it out, he reported his wife and her lover to the Ecclesiastical Court and the story between the two had to end. However, the master carpenter, who evidently didn’t' lack of sense of humor, decided to place the head of a bull in a strategic point of the cathedral so that the baker, seeing it every day, he wouldn't forget he was a cuckold. 

Madonna del Puzzo Firenze

3. The Madonna of the stink

We saw the Madonna painted and sculpted in countless ways. With the child and the Archangel, in a hut and on a throne, desperate and happy. But have you ever seen a Madonna pinching her nose? If not, just go to Borgo San Jacopo to make up this lack.
The Madonna you will see, visibly disgusted, is the work of the sculptor Mario Mariotti, born in 1936. At the end of the 80s, Mariotti was fed-up of the bad smell of pee that was keep floating around the neighbourhood and decided to do something. He sculpted the so-called Madonna of the stink, hoping to dissuade the rude in search of a bathroom en plein air.
The work was very much appreciated by the citizens but unfortunately failed in the purpose. Actually, garbage bins were also placed there, so that now the Madonna has one more reason to pinch her nose.

4. The always open window

In Santissima Annunziata's Square, just in front of the Basilica, there is a building that has an always open window. This is Palazzo Grifuni and the window. The reason why the window is always open is related to a love story. The wife of a member of the Grifuni family, shortly after moving to the palace, had to say goodbye to her husband who was called up. She spent her days right in front of the window, waiting for her husband to come back, which never happened. Once the woman died, the window has been closed, but strange phenomena began to appear in the house so that it was decided to leave it open.

Boboli Gardens in Florence

5. The Boboli hippopotamus

Walking through Boboli Gardens, you will bump into many strange things, going from fake sea caves to flashy fountains. However, we can guarantee this is nothing compared to what they bumped into in the 1600s. In fact, for sure you never thought that a hippopotamus used to live in the garden.

The bizarre tenant was given to Cosimo III, a fan of exotic plants and animals. And where could Cosimo keep it if not in Boboli Gardens? Therefore, it was quite easy for ladies strolling in elegant clothes to run into a huge hippopotamus. Unfortunately it survived only a short time in a climate so different from his and today is embalmed at the Museum of the Specola.

6. The upside-down balcony

In Ognissanti Borgo, door number 12, you cannot miss a balcony that is definitely out of the ordinary, with all the architectural elements in reverse. The reason for this strangeness seems to be a misunderstanding, or probably more like a bickering, between the landlord, Mr. Baldovinetti, that wanted a beautiful and imposing balcony, and Alexander de' Medici, Lord of Florence, who forbade architectural elements that were too big and conspicuous, since the streets of the city were rather narrow.

Baldovinetti's hard head did not want to give up on his balcony, so that he began to stalk Alessandro de 'Medici asking him every day the concession to build it and at some point, most probably exasperated, he allowed Baldovinetti the permission to build the balcony, under condition: that it had to be built upside down. Obviously, Alessandro de' Medici thought he was going to discourage Baldovinetti with his move but he clearly failed in his intent ...

7. The graffiti of Michelangelo

Old Palace, Signoria Square. On the right-hand side of the entrance, you can find a small graffiti.
You might think this is because of the usual vandals that ruin monuments, but not this time: this time was Michelangelo in person - who can do anything to monuments but certainly not spoiling them! The story goes that Buonarroti was often stopped in Signoria Square by a rather annoying and gentleman who kept talking and talking. One day, while Michelangelo was listening to one of the longest monologues of the history, he decided to kill some time by sculpting a face with one hand behind his back!
For obvious reasons, Michelangelo's graffiti is known by Florentines as "The irritating".


Do not miss the opportunity to book a Small Tours of Florence to discover art and history with fun learning many ancient anecdotes.

related articles


Visiting the city of Florence is definitely a must if you enjoy Renaissance art. This magnificent ...


Palazzo Vecchio: Florence's historical civic center

Located in the heart of the city of Florence, next to the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria, ...


Discover Florence Oltrarno District

Let’s find out something more about this suggestive neighborhood and why it’s worth a visit!


The secret gardens of florence: hidden gems in the city

The city of Florence is filled with endless beauty, both on its architectural and artistic side, but ...


Tuscany Wine Tours: The Best Vineyards to visit

if you’re planning on visiting Tuscany and you enjoy wine, attending a wine tour is definitely ...


Explore the Magnificent Duomo of Florence

Let’s go more in-depth about the history and architecture of the magnificent Dome of Florence!


Exploring Duomo di Siena and its Baptistery

Located in the historical center of the city of Siena, the Duomo di Siena is one of Italy’s most ...


A walk through history: The top 7 museums in Florence

Florence is one of the main residences of art, as it houses many masterpieces of Renaissance art and ...


Discover an ancient tradition in Florence: the wine windows

If you have ever visited Florence and Tuscany in general, then you know how much local culture is ...


Discover Tyrolean Village, Santa Claus House and Lego Christmas Village in Arezzo

Arezzo, one of the most charming towns in Tuscany, is all dressed up for Christmas holidays and, as ...