The beautiful city of Florence is famous for its art and history, but beneath the stories of artists, lay tales of spirits and mysteries. Taking advantage of the Halloween mood, today we want to share with you one of the most famous urban legends of our city.
Although Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the oldest churches in the city and it’s full of important works of art, that aren’t the main attraction that it offers. This church, built in pietra forte and with no decoration on the outside, has a peculiarity: there is a marble sculpture of a head in a wall.
The legend is that a man accused of witchcraft was being dragged to Piazza Santa Croce to meet his death by being burned alive. As he passed by Santa Maria Maggiore, a friar leaned his head out a small window and advised the soldiers not to give the man a drink as it would prevent him from dying since he had a pact with the Devil. The monk shout “You won’t drink anymore”, to which the enchanted replied “and you won’t take out your head from there anymore”. When he said those words, the monk turned into stone and trapped his head on the side of the church for eternity.
As we are talking about an urban legend, it isn’t certain that it actually happened and there are other theories about the stone head – it could have been even a woman and not a monk-.The head is now known as “La Berta”, it’s about human size and is so high in the wall that you might not notice it unless you look carefully or if someone points you in the right direction.
If you need directions or if you want to know some other urban legends don’t hesitate to ask us at Il Salviatino!