You took a blunder!

Almost as “ancestors” of the name given to the streets in Florence, before 1300, the “Canti” were born, that are, the corners between two neighboring buildings.

Often were the great families the ones that gave their name to the Canto near which they had a loggia, tower or palace. Other times the name originated from customs or events worthy of memory and, as such, indicated to represent a characteristic of that place.

“Canti” like that of the Circles, recall the prestige and political power of a family; others, such as the Canto del Saggio or that of the Proconsolo, tell the administrative history of the city; the Canto of the Priests and that of the Abbess recall the religious environment. Related to trade and markets are for example the Canto alla Paglia or the Canto de’ Fiascai; the Canto alle Mosche name of uncertain origin, perhaps from a heraldic insignia with bees, or from the name of an ancient tavern. An idea of the irritable nature of the Florentines comes instead from the Canto alla Briga, even if they were then ready to reach an agreement and shake hands on the Canto alla Pace.

The “Canto”, the corner between two streets, the Florentines call them “Cantonata” and the drivers of the carts, turning through the narrow streets of Florence, often hit the wheels of the cart on the corner of a building on the corner between two streets: “they made a blunder (cantonata)”, in the true sense of the term.

This way of saying remained in the Florentine ways of saying – and not only – in the sense of “making a blunder”, just like those men who, misjudging the distances, slammed their cart against the wall.

A still existing and clearly visible example of these “corners (cantonata)“ in Florence is Via del Canto Rivolto, between Via delle Brache and Piazza Peruzzi.

Calling it “Via” is an exaggeration… it is actually an alley, which ran at the back of the buildings on Via de’ Neri, Via dei Rustici and Piazza Peruzzi, a real easement for these buildings, affected by the passage of carriages and carts that delivered goods to homes.

The risk we ran was that of getting stuck due to the narrow bend in the middle of the road, a real 90 degree angle.

To warn chariot drivers of the danger, the first road signs were invented: on the corner the wording Cāto Rivolto”, i.e. narrow turning corner”, was carved in Gothic characters.

But not everyone noticed that writing: if we look at the corner of the building below, we can still see the marks that the cart wheels left on the stones of the corner.

Perhaps the Florentines can boast of having invented road signs!