Hidden treasures

The Florentine Carroccio

Historical Curiosities
Carroccio_fiorenitno

The Florentine Carroccio

If I say Carroccio what comes to mind? The mental association with the Northern League, of which more than a symbol it has become almost a synonym, is quite obvious. Having said that, it should be noted that the Lombards were not the only ones in the communal era to have a Carroccio. We also had one in Florence, and what a Carroccio it was!

The Carroccio was a war-cart. It was a large four-wheeled cart pulled by four oxen wrapped in red 'gualdrappe' (blankets). It was used when the decision was made to start a war outside of Florence. The bell called 'Martinella', which was located in Por Santa Maria and heralded the beginning of war, was hoisted on the Carroccio and this then left the city. The vexillum standards and the flags of the city were also mounted on it and due to its symbolic value, it was strongly guarded. So much so that the bravest soldiers were nearly always relied upon. The capture of the Carroccio was really an irretrievable event that was avoided in all possible ways. On the Carroccio, sometimes, there was also a chaplain who celebrated mass from an altar on the front. On the back of the altar were the trumpeters who had the task of sounding the signals of assault, gathering and retreat.

Certain information on the use of the Carroccio dates back to 1230 and a battle against Siena. The episode according to which the cart fell into the hands of the enemy dates instead to 1360 and the battle of Montaperti, again against the Siena’s army. It seems that since then it was never replaced with another one. How much history and how many stories have characterized the streets and squares of Florence! It would be really nice to know them all! But as we can’t just tell you about all of them in one go, your best option is to take part in one of our tours in Florence. Our guides, who know everything about the beautiful lily city, will tell you many other anecdotes like this.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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