Hidden treasures

History of the 'Bischeri' of Florence

Figures of speech
Bischeri

History of the 'Bischeri' of Florence

Bischero is one of the best-known Tuscan words. Calling someone a 'bischero' means describing them as a naive, good-for-nothing and not particularly bright person. It is certainly not a compliment, but it can also be used in a positive way. It is not rare among friends to give each other a pat on the shoulder and say 'you’re a right old bischero' without this offending the other person. In short, everything depends on the tone and the context. That said, have you ever wondered where this word comes from? To find out, let’s go back in time a bit, to the Middle Ages.

At the end of the 13th century one of the richest families in Florence was the Bischeri family. So at that time, this word was associated with the wealth of a family composed of wealthy landowners, skilled merchants and even prominent public figures such as 15 priors and 4 gonfalonieri. So when was it that the name of such an important family took on such a negative meaning that it even forced them to change their name?

It all began in the late 1200s, when Florence decided to build a new cathedral. The first stone was laid on September 8th, 1296. Since the building was really huge, the local council decided to purchase the land that was in the perimeter affected by the imposing construction. The properties of the Bischeri were all located precisely in that area, between Piazza del Duomo and Via dell'Oriolo, as evidenced by a plaque with the words 'Canto dei Bischeri'. In order to try to make the most money possible, they began a long and exhausting negotiation with the government of Florence. They must have gone a bit too far, because eventually the land and its houses were expropriated for a few ‘fiorini’ coins. There is also a more 'fanciful' version of the story, according to which the houses and land were burned and razed to the ground. Whatever actually happened, it marked the beginning of the decline of the wealthy family began that was even forced to flee Florence because of shame. They returned home only in the 16th century, but the term bischero had already become synonymous with stupidity, so they decided to take on a new surname that didn’t remind people of that sad affair. They must have decided to choose an auspicious name because they decided to call themselves 'Guadagni', i.e. ‘earnings’. Definitely better than Bischeri!

How many mysteries and secrets are hidden between the buildings and the streets of the wonderful lily city? Do you want to discover more? As always, we have the perfect solution for you! Book our fascinating 'Private guided tour of the secrets of Florence'. The stories of our guides will really leave you speechless!

 

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Tuscany: Senza lilleri non si lallera!

Senza_lilleri
Figures of speech

If you have already read other anecdotes on Tuscan expressions, you have probably understood by now that in the land of Dante there is ...

View

Pisa: The ghost of Galileo: Ghostbusters at work in Piazza dei Miracoli!

Fantasma_Galielo
Mysteries & Legends

Even the great Galileo Galilei was Tuscan. He was a Pisan, to be precise, where he studied medicine before devoting himself to science....

View

Lucca: Santa Zita and the miracle of the pulses

Santa-Zita
Mysteries & Legends

In Italy there is a Saint to protect the workers of every profession. Santa Zita, one of the most beloved characters of Lucca, is the p...

View

Florence: Why does everyone in Florence call a tracksuit a ‘toni’?

Tuta_toni
Figures of speech

In Tuscany we don’t have a proper dialect, but you just have to move a couple of miles to hear different ways of saying that are spec...

View

Top posts

Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

Guido-d-Arezzo
Big Names

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the mode...

View

Pistoia: The Kiss of the Christs in Gavinana

Il-bacio-dei-cristi
Local Traditions

It is a very ancient but still popular rite. Two large processions that meet up with a Christ on the cross in front of each one: the he...

View

Siena: Piero Carbonetti and his tin drum

Piero-Carbonetti
Local Traditions

Subversive, persecuted, anarchist, homeless, dreamer: it is really difficult to define Piero Carbonetti, Tuscan bred and born and Garib...

View

Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Kinzika
Local Traditions

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracen...

View