Legend of the Rooster Pitcher
The origin of the popular Rooster Pitcher stretches back to the 15th century and the time of the Renaissance in the Republic of Florence. The most powerful and wealthy people in all Florence were members of the Medici family. The patriarch of the family, the famous Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano, faced only one serious rival for power--the Pazzi family. The Pazzis were determined to seize power and were prepared to use the accepted method of the day...assassination!
A part of the Medici's vast wealth was their land holdings. Peasants from the nearby villages worked the land and occasionally the Medicis would host festivals to reward the workers.
Giuliano in particular enjoyed the celebrations, planning one for the slightest reason. The Pazzis, knowing this weakness for parties, had a conspirator suggest Giuliano host a festival for the now vanished village of Gallina. Giuliano agreed and a plot was hatched. The Pazzis planned to wait untill after the festival had ended, then, when Giuliano and his guards were drunk and asleep, they would attack and kill them all.
In the fall of 1478 the festival in Gallina took place and Giuliano and his entourage of guards, cooks and craftsmen arrived to host the celebration. The hired assassins of the Pazzi family sneaked into the village, prepared to carry out their evil deed. They might have succeeded except, as the men crept into the barnyard, the roosters awoke and began their frantic crowing! The assassins were so stunned they stood helpless, unable to attack. Giuliano and his men, alerted by the noisy birds, captured the men, who later suffered the same fate they had planned for Giuliano.
As for Giuliano, he was so delighted to have been saved by the lowly rooster that he hosted another festival the following night! He ordered artisans to create ceramic copies of the feathered guardians so they might be used as wine pitchers. Those same pitchers he presented to the peasants for good luck.
Since that time it has been an Italian tradition to present a Rooster Pitcher to friends and family to protect them from trespassers and other dangers. To purchase a rooster pitcher click here.