The Mercato del Porcellino is also known as the Mercato Nuovo, a name it was given to distinguish it from the now demolished Mercato Vecchio that used to be in Piazza della Repubblica. But despite being called the “New Market” it is one of the oldest in Florence.
Established in the 11th century, the market’s vendors used to sell luxury items like silk and gold. By the end of the 19th century, however, it became a straw market. Today, stands sell anything and everything but straw: here you’ll find products that range from leather goods, T-shirts and scarves to souvenirs, trinkets and gifts.
The market is covered by a noteworthy loggia. Made between 1547 and 1551, it is a rectangular loggia with tall arches. Designed by the Florentine sculptor and architect, Giovanni Battista del Tasso, the loggia has two niches on each corner. Just three of these niches contain statues depicting famous Florentines from the past: a banker, a printer and a revolutionary.
Florentines call this market the Porcellino after the bronze statue of the wild boar nearby. Every year, tens of thousands of tourists rub his now very shiny snout and drop coins at his feet in hopes, according to legend, that they will one day return to Florence.
It is said that Cosimo II de’ Medici likely commissioned the bronze copy of the statue for Palazzo Pitti’s Boboli Gardens, when the original marble statue was transferred to the Uffizi Gallery, where it can still be seen today. Instead, the original Porcellino, which was made by Pietro Tacca in the 1630s, sits in Florence’s Stefano Bardini Museum today.
Copies of the Porcellino sit in several countries around the world, from Canada and the United States to Australia, Germany and France.