Hidden treasures

The Lion in the Florence Cathedral

Mysteries & Legends

The Lion in the Florence Cathedral

In the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore there are sculptures of many different animals and it seems that each of these, in addition to standing the test of time for centuries, also carries its own legend. This is also true for the two lions overlooking Porta dei Cornacchini which opens towards Via Ricasoli. On the twisted columns that support the portal, there are two figures of lions: a female with her offspring and a male with a mouth open wide menacingly. This is the king of the imaginary Tuscan forest that fuelled a legend which really gives you the shivers.

There was once a man called Anselmo who lived nearby and was haunted by a recurring dream that prevented him from sleeping peacefully: he dreamt of the lion attacking him and inevitably defeating him. Despite not being in the savannah, at that time the chances of running into a lion were not entirely remote: these animals were used for public performances, so much so that Via dei Leoni behind Palazzo Vecchio is precisely the road where they were kept.

The only way to overcome fear is to face it. So Anselmo, to exorcise his fears, decided to put his hand into the mouth of the stone lion in the Duomo. He would have thus realized that nothing was going to happen, that the lion was harmless and he could have slept safe at night. Poor Anselmo had a great big shock because there happened to be a scorpion in the lion’s maw that stung him as he reached out his hand. The poison took its course and Anselmo was seized by the eternal rest of death. The poor man had been right all along to be afraid of the lion's maw because deadly danger was hiding there!

Interesting, isn’t it? If you like stories like this then do not miss our 'Tour in search of stone animals'! It is especially suitable for children who will have lots of fun discovering all the specimens hidden in the churches, squares and streets of Florence. If, however, you want something stronger but definitely equally intriguing, then the 'Scary Florence Tour' is just right for you!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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