Many beautiful sculptures decorate the façade as well as the sides of the world-renowned Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, but they are often overlooked, particularly when viewed through a quick, unfocused glance.
One particular sculpture, which is likely to be not noticed by the majority of people, appears to be unnatural The head of an ox with horns.
It’s located on the left-hand right side of the Cathedral. It’s located between the via Ricasoli and the via dei Servi.
What does an animal’s head have to do with Florence’s Duomo?
It’s a blend of mythology and history that dates back to the Cathedral’s construction around 1400 in the Middle Ages. According to the official version, this statue is an ode to the animals who played a crucial role during the construction, bringing the heaviest material to the construction site. It was not uncommon for the time to dedicate statues to animals in order to acknowledge their sacrifices and aid in creating artworks.
However, popular tradition has the sculpture attributed to an entirely different tale. According to legend, the master-builder of the Cathedral was in a love affair with a married lady who was jealous of her husband, a tailor living in Via Ricasoli, very close to the Cathedral.
When he learned of his wife’s infidelity, the man made the decision to file a complaint with the Ecclesiastical Court; as a response, the master-builder decided to retaliate by putting the ox’s head so that the animals’ horns pointed precisely in the direction of the tailor’s house to remind him daily of his husband’s ‘betrayed position (in Italy, horns are associated with infidelity “Essere cornuto,” to be “horned,” which is to be taken advantage of).
” Oltre al danno la beffa,” according to the way we speak, says in Italian (add insult to the injury). You can pick the story you love the most, and maybe the next time you’re in Florence’s Cathedral, look at the head of the ox.