Originally sculpted in 1634, Il Porcellino is a bronze fountain decoration that eats the coins of visitors who come asking for good luck and usually rub the beast’s snout when they’re finished; a tradition that has become so popular that there are now dozens of copies and replicas of the hairy pig all over the world.
Created by Baroque-era bronze master Pietro Tacca, the bronze beast was inspired by a marble boar dating back to the Hellenistic age and which was likely a representation of the mythical Calydonian Boar. Tacca’s boar was originally sculpted to adorn a fountain in Italy’s famed Boboli Gardens, but was in the end placed on a fountain in the Mercato Nuovo in front of a pharmacy. The statue is partially hollow which allows visitors to slip coins between the boar’s jaws for good luck. However, unforeseen by the builder was visitor’s habit of giving the creature a rub on the nose when they visit which has resulted in a shining golden snout.
The original figure was moved to a museum in 1998 and replaced with an identical bronze recasting. In addition to the replica at the original site, Il Porcellino’s have since popped up at locations all over the world from Sydney, Australia to the University of Arkansas. This magic boar was just too loved to stay in only one place forever.
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