The Metal Pig
In the city of Florence, not far from the Piazza del Granduca, there is a little cross street which I think is called Porta Rossa. In front of a sort of market in this street, where vegetables are sold, stands an artificial but beautifully fashioned metal pig. A fountain of fresh clear water gushes out of the animal's mouth. Age has turned it dark green; only its snout shines as if it had been polished, and so it has by the many hundreds of children and poor people who take hold of it with their hands when they put their mouths to its mouth to drink the water. It is an interesting picture to see the perfectly formed animal embraced by a handsome, half-naked boy putting his young lips to its snout.
Everyone who goes to Florence surely finds the place; you only have to ask the first beggar you see about the metal pig, and he will find it for you.
Late one winter evening the mountains were covered with snow, but it was moonlight, and in Italy the moon gives as bright a light as on a dark winter's day in the north. Yes, it is even brighter, for the clear air seems to shine and to lift us above the earth, while in the north the cold, gray leaden roof presses us to the ground, the same cold, wet ground which one day will press on our coffins.
In the Duke's palace garden, a little ragged boy had been sitting all day under the stone pines, where thousands of roses bloom in the winter, a boy who might have stood for a picture of Italy, so pretty, so laughing, and yet so suffering. Although hungry and thirsty, he got a penny from no one, and when it grew dark and time to close the gardens, the porter drove him away. For a long time he stood dreaming on the bridge over the River Arno, looking at the reflections of the glittering stars in the water beneath the stately marble bridge. Then he made his way to the metal pig, knelt before it, threw his arms around its neck, put his little mouth to its shining snout, and drank great draughts of fresh water. Near by lay a few salad leaves and a couple of chestnuts, and these formed his supper.