Hidden treasures

‘When the lion pees in the Arno’... in Florence rain is due!

Did you know that...

‘When the lion pees in the Arno’... in Florence rain is due!

That local proverbs and sayings often contain precious 'pearls of popular wisdom' is a well-known fact. But sometimes they can go even further and even draw on science, like meteorology, for example. In fact, the funny Florentine saying that you read in the title relates precisely to the weather forecast and in particular to a weather vane that served precisely that purpose.

In Piazza della Signoria, if you try to look up towards the Tower of Arnolfo above Palazzo Vecchio, you will see that at the top there is a beautiful weather vane. It depicts a lion leaning on a bronze sphere and holding a pole between its legs which is fixed to the lily of Florence, symbol of the city. It was placed on the top of the tower in 1453 by the architect Michelozzo, who was in charge of performing renovation works. The lion alone reaches a height of two meters, while the whole structure reaches a total of four meters. But what you see today at the top of the tower is only a copy: the original can be found in front of the entrance to the Salone dei Cinquecento, sheltered from bad weather. Nevertheless, the copy does its job very well, turning according to the direction of the wind. And it is precisely from its position that the saying derives: 'when the lion pees in the Arno... rain is due'. In fact, when the winds blow in Florence from the south-eastern quadrants, there is a good chance that it will rain. And indeed if the wind blows from the north, from Fiesole, the weather vane turns in the opposite direction: south, that is towards the Arno. And that’s the explanation of the bizarre Florentine saying!

Did you know that the lion in the weather vane is not the only one in the city? Indeed, around the center of the ‘Pearl of the Renaissance' city you will come across many other animals. If you want to discover them and especially if you intend to visit Florence with your family, participating in our activity 'Looking for Stone Animals in Florence: private tour for children and families' is a must. It is a truly fun and engaging way to discover this interesting and peculiar side of Florence. In our website section 'Tours in Florence' you will find many experiences recommended by our insiders, suitable for all ages, tastes and weather conditions!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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