The Devil’s Wind: Florentine Legend of the Rifrullo del Diavolo

Image by CuriousRambler.com

I was walking through Piazza del Duomo in Florence admiring the beautiful cathedral and trying not to be trampled by tourists. It was lunch time, so I was also keeping my eye out for somewhere to eat.

I saw Kaleo Art Caffè, which looked very inviting, so I went inside. It was a beautiful little place with art deco styling and a nice menu. But along with the tasty edible offerings listed on their menu, they had also printed a little legend pertaining to their location – Piazza del Duomo and Via dello Studio.

Well, I can’t pass up a good legend, so I read it first – before even looking at the food. It went like this…

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The Legend of the Rifrullo del Diavolo (the Devil’s Wind)

In the Duomo square, close to Via dello Studio street, you can usually feel a light breeze. But sometimes that little breeze will suddenly pick up and turn into a whirlwind. The Florentines have named this phenomenon the Rifrullo del Diavolo – that is the Devil’s Sigh or the Devil’s Wind.

It seems that in days gone by, the Devil used to wander the streets of Florence at night searching for souls he could take back to Hell with him. One dark and dreary night, he set his eye on a priest.

Priest running from the Devil with the duomo in the background – Image from the menu of Kaleo Art Caffè.

The priest wasn’t keen on giving up his soul and started to run. But after a long chase, the Devil nabbed him. It was just in front of the cathedral, and the priest begged the Devil to let him have just one last prayer before he lost his soul.

The Devil was in an agreeable mood that night, so he let the priest go inside the cathedral to pray. He waited outside – because, as everyone knows, the Devil does not like churches. But the clever priest had a plan: instead of getting down on his knees and praying, he ran out through a side door and escaped.

The Devil had no idea the priest had tricked him. He was still waiting outside. After a while, he became bored and let out a sigh which made a light breeze blow through the piazza. After a bit more time had passed, he realized that he had been tricked. He huffed and puffed, and his angry breath created a strong gust of wind that swirled all around the piazza.

Ever since that night, the Rifrullo del Diavolo has never stopped blowing. The Devil is still sighing, and sometimes huffing and puffing, as he waits in vain for his chosen soul to come out of the cathedral. 

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I smiled. I had enjoyed the story in my menu, but I hadn’t noticed any wind when I was outside. Maybe it was a slightly exaggerated legend.

My delicious Kaleo salad came and I had a nice leisurely lunch then got ready to leave. And just as I walked out the door, a big gust of wind slapped me in the face and blew my hat off!

That Devil was still mad… But boy was I glad he only wanted my hat and not my soul.

Image by CuriousRambler.com
  • Kaleo Art Caffè is on Via dello Studio, 27r in Piazza del Duomo.

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Margo Lestz

Margo has authored four books about France. She has a BA in Liberal Studies with International Emphasis and enjoys travel, languages, history, writing, and experiencing other cultures.

2 comments

  1. You do find interesting stories everywhere, Margo. You are obviously enjoying autumn in Florence and enjoying using your Italian. You must be pretty fluent with this practice.
    Best wishes
    Paula

    1. Hi Paula, I’m having a great time in Florence – it’s one of my favorite cities. This is the first time I’ve been here and not taken a language course. But my brain just needed a little rest and I’m not really speaking that much Italian. There are something like 72 museums here – that includes lots of small ones, of course – but still there is a lot to do here.
      Hope you are gearing up for a wonderful springtime.
      All the best,
      Margo

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