05 Set P.zza della Passera: a unique name
Piazza della Passera is a small square in the Santo Spirito area, also known as the Chant to the Four Lions, located between via Sprone, via Toscanella and via dei Vellutini. Certainly one of the most vivid and significant places of the Florentine neighborhood Oltrarno, packed with typical restaurants and of an undeniable charm.
The “folkloric” name comes from the way in which Florentines refer to the female genital organ, and has officially been assigned only since 2005.
Piazza della Passera owes the origin of its name to two stories from the dark medieval hues; the first one refers to an ancient, famous brothel on-site that seems to have also been frequented by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Medici, and which was demolished in the 20s of the twentieth century. Shortly, it was a red light district in the words of modern language.
A second hypothesis, also supported by historian Piero Bargellini, refers instead to an event from 1348: that year the children from the neighborhood found a dying bird in the square, and, thinking that it was a victim to a rascal or a cat, they tried to rescue it but failed.
The bird in question was touched by plague and marked the beginning of a tragic epidemic, also described by Giovanni Boccaccio in the Decameron, a plague that decimated the population causing in only a few months the death of 40.000 out of 96.000 Florentines.
It is true that this is not the only “inconvenient” name from the Florentine street map, suffice to remember Via dell’Amorino (once the street of brothels), Via delle Belle Donne (the Street of Beautiful Women), Via delle Serve Smarrite (the Street of Lost Servants – today Via del Parlagio) and Via Vergognosa (the Street of Shame – today Via Borgognona; also once known as a place of brothel houses).