The Little Devil
Attached to the corner of Palazzo Vecchietti, which lies a stone's throw from Piazza della Repubblica, is a small bronze figure. Known as il diavolino (the little devil), it is a copy of a work by the Flemish sculptor Jean de Boulogne, better known as Giambologna (1529-1608).
The sculptor originally made two such figurines for Bernardo Vecchietti, a rich patron, who actually housed Giambologna in his palace for several years. The two little devils (one of which has been lost) were placed at the corners of Palazzo Vecchietti.
The diavolino probably served as a holder for a flagstaff, which, if we imagine it in place, would have been redolent of an erect phallus. Rather than being some kind of graphic joke on the part of either sculptor or patron, the diavolino may have had an apotropaic function, helping to avert the evil eye from the palace and its occupants.