I laughed at her. “A what?”
“A chicken pitcher,” she said again in all seriousness.
“Um…okay,” I replied.
Then she told me that the Italian chicken pitcher is an old Italian tradition that apparently brings good luck to those who have one in their kitchen.
An Italian tradition, you say? Sign me up!
The Legend of the Italian Chicken Pitcher
As the legend goes (and I’m paraphrasing here), back during the Italian Renaissance, there were two leading families: the Medicis, and coming in at a close second were the Pazzis.
The Medici family’s patriarch, Lorenzo the Magnificent (yes…he called himself “the Magnificent”), had one brother named Giuliano. Not thrilled about being number two, the Pazzis decided to take over by a common method at the time: assassination.
The Medici’s owned acres and acres of land, which is where most of their wealth came from. Giuliano, the nice man that he was, would often throw huge festivals for the peasants who worked on his land.
Knowing Giuliano had a weakness for hosting elaborate shin-digs, the Pazzis had someone suggest he throw a festival in Gallina (a town that doesn’t exist today). Like a good host, he agreed.
The Pazzi’s plan was to kill Giuliano and his guards the night of the party, since that’s when they’d be the most vulnerable (aka very, very drunk).
On the night of the party, the Pazzis’ hired-assassins tip-toed their way into town very late at night to kill Giuliano. They were close to his place and only had one obstacle left to cross: a large field.
They stared traveling through the field, but low and behold, the field was scattered with dozens of chickens!
The assassins, who were clearly not very light on their feet, startled the chickens, and as they woke up they began cackling. One by one, the cackle grew so loud that they woke up Giuliano’s guards.
The assassins froze right smack dab in the middle of the field—completely caught off guard.
Let’s just say that Giuliano was not very happy with what he saw, and the only people who died that night were the assassins.
Thrilled that the chickens warned him and saved his life, Giuliano throw another festival the following night. He politely asked (i.e. ordered) artisans to create wine pitchers that looked like chickens and promptly gave the chicken pitchers to the peasants and their friends for good luck with warding off assassins.
And that’s the tale of how chicken pitchers are now an Italian tradition to protect families and friends from trespassers and danger.
Picking the Perfect Italian Chicken Pitcher
It took me for-ev-er to pick out a design for our chicken pitcher. There were so many options, but I ended up going with the classic route and brought home this little fellow.
Our Traveling Italian Chicken Pitchers
Our little chickens (we know own three of them) have lived in Italy, Georgia, New Mexico, California, and Germany. No matter where we live, we find them a home in our kitchen.
Have you ever heard the tale of the Italian chicken pitcher before? If you’re in Northern Italy, I highly encourage you to check out the ceramic town of Nove.