The lion, the man and the Duomo

Curious Florence

Katie Acompora
July 3, 2014

An ancient proverb holds that a lion’s power lies in our fear of him. If you look at the door on the left-hand side of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, you will find a lion and a lioness atop a column. The lion figures in a tragic anecdote about a fifteenth-century Florentine named Anselmo, a member of the Cornacchini family. Anselmo suffered from a terrible recurring nightmare in which he was being devoured by a lion. Legend has it that he tried to rid himself of this nightmare by placing his hand in the mouth of the stone lion on the column. To his dismay, a scorpion bit his thumb and he died the same day. 

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