The Legend of the Rooster Pitcher
The origin of Rooster Pitchers dates back to the early Renaissance period in the Republic of Florence. The leading family in the republic at the time was the Medici Family. Its patriarch was the famous Lorenzo the Magnificent, whose younger brother was Guiliano.
They were the wealthiest and most powerful family in the republic. Their only serious rival for power was the Pazzi Family. The Pazzis were trying to wrest this power by the normal methods used at the time: ASSASSINATION.
The Medici Family's wealth was partially based upon their large land holdings, which their peasants in the nearby villages worked on. The Medici Family were benevolent landowners, for their time, and would occasionally throw large festivals in these villages for the peasants. Guiliano especially liked to do this and would do so on the slightest suggestion.
The Pazzi Family had plotted to kill the Medici Family many times and on one occasion, they schemed to kill Guiliano the night after a festival (when they though he would have consumed too much wine) when he and his bodyguards would be most vulnerable. Therefore, they had someone suggest to Guiliano that he throw a festival in the small village of Gallina, where one had never been thrown before. Guiliano agreed and in the fall of 1478 he and his entourage of bodyguards, cooks, tailors, artists, entertainers, and craftsmen of various trades went to Gallina (which no longer exists) to throw a festival.
The Pazzi Family hired assassins to sneak into the town late at night after the festival and kill Guiliano and his guards. They would have succeeded but they forgot one minor detail: the yards in and around the village were filled with roosters. The large number of roosters who were unaccustomed to activity so early in the morning, started cackling in a great frenzy that awoke Guiliano and his guards. The assassins were so startled that they were unable to flee and were caught and executed. Their patrons, the Pazzi Family, were eventually exposed after later attempts to kill Lorenzo failed and were executed or exiled and their fortunes confiscated.
Guiliano was so thrilled that the roosters warned him and saved his life that he threw another festival the following evening. He ordered his artisans to create ceramic replicas of the rooster and adorn them with various designs to be used as wine vessels. He gave these to the peasants and his friends for good luck in warding off assassins. It is now tradition to give a new rooster pitcher to a friend or family member as a wedding or housewarming gift as a symbol of good luck and to protect them from trespassers and danger.