DISCOVER FLORENCE’S STRAW HATSMin. reading
Florence’s straw hats: a tradition developed amongst loggias and grulli
This Florentine tradition is almost unknown, it is a story that is linked to other anecdotes and discoveries and makes the city of Guelphs and Ghibellines, where we and our hotel were born, even more fascinating.
Under the burning sun in the fields that the Tuscan farming tradition boasts, the only possible protection from the sun was to wear a straw hat. Created at the beginning of the 14th century, it was used merely as sun protection until the 18th century, so much so that in the 16th century there was a category of professions exclusively for straw hat producers. But the hat is an accessory, and from the 18th century on, in Florence, spring wheat started to be used, a cereal that was typical of the Signa area, which is sown very thickly and harvested whilst very young in order to take advantage fully of its shine and thin width. The shape could either be fioretto, which means with a very large brim to protect the ladies from the sun, or a truncated cone shape.
So from as early as the 18th century, before Gucci, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cavalli e Patrizia Pepe, Florence has always been a city of fashion victims!
Also from the 18th century the product started to be exported. It became known as Leghorn, the English name for the town of Livorno, because from Livorno it was exported all over the world.
Buying a straw hat in Florence, will not only enhance your image but will also prove your good taste and your love for exclusive and peculiar accessories and high quality sewing, which is what makes Florence’s straw hats unique products throughout the world.
The main market where you can buy straw hats used to be in Loggia del Porcellino, where the famous Il Porcellino (the piglet) is located. The piglet is actually a bronze boar, a copy of the work of Pietro Tacca dating back to the 17th century. Legend has it, touching the boar’s nose brings good luck!
The Loggia del Porcellino dates back to the 14th century and you could find a four-wheeled war altar there containing the Martinella bell, which called the Florentines to war and more recently tolled just on special occasions, such as during the liberation of Florence on the 11th of August 1944.
The altar was drawn by two white Chianina bulls, mounting a large vexillum standard of the Florentine lily decorated with red drapes, so that it could be seen from afar. It is thought that the coachmen were called grulli, which nowadays is used in the Florentine dialect to indicate a person that is not very smart.
On the floor of the Loggia del Porcellino there is still a marble disc that is used to indicate the point where the altar was placed. And it is there that people who were guilty of bankruptcy were punished: the punishment consisted of putting the convict in chains, lowering their trousers and beating their bare behind onto the stones.
Come and see us at the Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco to visit the venues of the Florentine market, touch the nose of the bronze boar and breath the history of this city.
Reserve your stay in Florence!