The Tale of the Italian Chicken Pitcher

“You can get yourself an Italian chicken pitcher when we’re in Nove,” my friend Amanda told me on our way up to the “ceramic town.”  

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.


  1. Cute! I can't wait to come for a visit and get my own little chicken pitcher. 🙂 There's a trip to Nove in May that the spouses group is doing…but I'd rather get my own personal tour! Seriously, let's make it happen! That Nove place is all the buzz here in Germany…well, that and Polish Pottery trips.

    And I totally thought about the HIMYM thing before I even saw your asterisk! Love that episode.

  2. OMGoodness I love the poppy one! How much is it to ship here b.c I would totally send you the money so that next time you go you can get me one 🙂

  3. Very cute! I would get in so much trouble if I could reach this store. Maybe an overseas PCS is not a safe choice for us 🙂

  4. From what I heard each city in Italy has their own pattern. When I did a service trip to New Orleans post Katrina we helped clear out the house of a retired marine who had spent time in Italy when he was in the service. They had a large collection of Chicken Vases that all survived Katrina and they were SO excited. We also found all his medals which made them cry but they were also just so tickled to find all the chicken pitchers! Maybe they are protective!

  5. Such a neat story to go with the chicken pitcher tradition!! After hearing that I probably would have had to get one too. =) I so love that you named him General Tso!!! *salutes General Tso* 😉

  6. This is the first I am hearing of this and (I asked some of my friends in and around Italy also) and they hadn't heard of it. Thanks for sharing this story!

  7. What a cool story and tradition! I would totally want a chicken pitcher too. And I love how there are so many different designs to pick from…I would have such a hard time selecting one! 🙂

  8. I was in the Navy stationed in LaMadalena Italy and have only given a rooster pitcher to my mother actually sent it to her from Italy and now I have a good friend getting married so I decided to continue the tradition. I think I should get myself one lol.

  9. I’ve had my lucky chicken pitcher for 20 years since when I lived in Italy in the 90s and I’ve never been robbed, broken into, or had bad health issues! If it can bring me a loving and caring man to walk into my life then all will be perfect in my world! LOL!

  10. Hi, Ms. Lynn:
    Lovely story. You omitted the tradition involved, that the pitcher must be a gift. At least it’s true in Naples, one does not buy one for oneself. So, time to give yours away. It’s a lovely tradition.

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