Why Mario was late getting home from the pub

It was a dark and stormy night in Florence. The date was 17 February, 1600. Mario and his mates had just finished a highly satisfying wine drinking session at the osteria in  the Via Proconsolo.

They stopped for one last buona notte just behind the Cathedral when suddenly there was an almighty crash of thunder and flash of lightning. Then the men heard what sounded like a thousand ox-carts all dumping their loads of building stone at one time. When they looked up toward the cupola, what they saw soon cleared their wine befuddled brains! The gilded ball on the lantern at the top of the cathedral had been struck by the lightning. It and about two tons of building material came crashing down towards Mario and his mates.

That little white spot in the pavement marks where the lantern came to rest.



You can get some idea of the path the gilded bronze ball and cross took as it bounced and smashed its way down the curve of the dome when you stand on that piece of white marble and stretch your head way back to look up.




When the damage was repaired and the lantern replaced,  holy relics and Latin inscriptions were placed in the arms of the cross, to prevent a recurrence of this event. In more modern times, a pragmatic approach was taken: the lantern is protected by a lightning conductor.

And Mario and his friends? They like everyone else in Florence were unhurt by this dramatic event, but it is not recorded what their wives had to say about their late night out.




Filed under Florence

38 responses to “Why Mario was late getting home from the pub

  1. I bet they were hitting that B button on the controller as hard and fast as they could. Jump, Mario, Jump!
    (Thanks for sharing this story, I didn’t know that one. Hm. Now I’ll have to go back to Florence to check it out for myself. Such a shame.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucky Mario and his friends didn’t get flattened by the golden orb. Talk about near misses.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I read this I was skipping too fast and I skipped over the date and I thought it was a now sort of happening. So it was quite a surprise when I got to the end. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great story Yvonne. Perhaps a message about staying out late? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. another great story! I bet my florentine husband doesn’t know it. thanks Yvonne!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What is the Italian for ‘rolling pin’?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, that’s what you get drinking late at night,That’s if drinking was all those men did? Areas around cathedrals were often hotbeds of vice and whoring was just one them. The wives would know!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Yvonne ! I hope you are wearing your hard hat in Florence 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are just such a wealth of information. I’m passing this on to my friend Max….he can look for it in August when he’s there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How long will Max be here, and where is he staying?


      • He will be there for two weeks and has rented an apartment, I think in the Santo Spirito area. He made sure it had air conditioning.
        Since I sent him the link maybe he will respond and tell you about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Max

        Hi Yvonne,

        I’m staying at via dei Serragli 41 near Santo Spiritu.
        It will be my first time in Italy, should be a great adventure.
        I’ll be traveling alone, Michelle only wants to go to Venice (I think her heart is there).
        I welcome any suggestions you may have for Florence.
        I see the Palio in Sienna will be just after I get there, but that may have to wait for another trip.
        Wondering if the wine doors still work, I’ll check to see how the pissote work when I get to Venice some day.


        Liked by 2 people

        • Which is exactly what the Venetians don’t want you to do Max!
          I can always visit Florence once I’m living in Venice.


        • Well, just don’t get involved with Mario and his mates, Max.

          The Santo Spirito area is great, you won’t have to go far for good eating! I can recommend Gusta Osteria, right in front of the church, and the Osteria Santo Spirito, right on the campo. I’ll check out the location of your apartment next time I’m on Via della Serraglia.

          Get this online paper delivered, it tells you what’s on in Florence: http://www.theflorentine.net/

          A blog that is full of good information is http://florenceforfree.co/ A search through their archives will net you more than enough activity for 2 weeks!

          Have your most comfortable shoes, the paving in Florence is strangely hard on the feet!

          Have fun!


  10. Jane

    I think I have walked over that spot and wondered what it represented…..and never remembered when I got home!

    PS I was suffering withdrawal symptoms this morning….when I got up and there was no post!!!! I am so enjoying your enjoying! Thanks…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Must have been considered a huge disaster at the time. Pragmatic makes sense, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s good to be well tanked when something like that happens….

    Liked by 1 person

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