There came a certain hot wind from the south, as if it were July, and all the walls of the houses dripped inside, all over Florence, even in the living-rooms, although they had been quite dry.
And in these days of February and March, soldiers were continually being hired, to send to the Duke (of Calabria), who was fighting against the papal forces; so that everyone in Florence who had taken part against the Church was excommunicated. All intelligent people wondered that anyone should go against the Church, especially as it had nothing to do with us. However, this mistaken conduct was the result of our sins and of our not fearing God.
The Arno froze entirely, so that the "palla"(1) was played upon it, and bonfires were made; the cold was great.
(1) Here equivalent probably to a kind of tennis.
At about 3 at night (11 p.m.) the lantern of the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore was struck by a thunderbolt and it was split almost in half; that is, one of the marble niches and many other pieces of marble on the side towards the door leading to the Servi,(1) were taken off in a miraculous way; none of us had ever in our lives seen lightning have such an effect before. If it had happened at the time when the sermon was being preached (for a sermon is preached every morning now, with 15 thousand people listening), it must of necessity have killed hundreds of persons. But the Lord did not permit it. This marble niche fell and struck the roof of the church between the two doors which lead to the Servi, and broke the roof and the vaulting in five places, finally fixing itself in the brick floor of the church. And many bricks and much other material from the vaulting fell also, reaching as far as the benches placed for the sermon, where many people would have been sitting. Some material fell in the choir as well, but not very much. Many pieces of marble fell outside the building, beyond the door leading to the Servi; one piece falling on the stepping-stones in the street, and after having split the stone, burying itself underground; another piece was hurled across the street, and struck the roof of the house opposite the said door, where it split the roof and many beams and vaultings, and finally buried itself in the ground under the cellar. Although the house was full of people, no one was injured. A man called Luca Ranieri lived there. You may imagine that they nearly died of amazement and terror at the fearful noise; for besides that which fell into the cellar, many pieces fell on the roofs all around. The gallery on the cupola was also injured.(2)
And observe that this great niche fell inside the church, and made a large hole in the pavement; but did not spoil anything, not even the worth of a grosso. It was considered a great marvel, and significative of some extraordinary event, especially as it had happened suddenly, when the weather was calm, and the sky without a cloud.
(1) See note to 26th April, 1478.
(2) In the Maruccellian Code we read on that margin this note: "The following fact happened in the year . . . that the same church was struck by lightning, with a similar effect, and a block of marble was detached and remained resting on certain beams, which would have killed many if it had fallen; and Messer Vincenzio, the sculptor, was there."
The Day of San Bastiano (St. Sebastian); there was the severest snowstorm in Florence that the oldest people living could remember. And amongst other extraordinary things, it was accompanied by such a violent wind that for the whole day it was impossible to open the shops, or the doors and windows. It last from the Ave Maria one morning to the Ave Maria the next morning, twenty-four hours, without ceasing for a minute, and without the wind abating, so that there was not the slightest crack or a hole, however small, that did not let a heap of snow into the house. In fact there was not a house so hermetically sealed as not to become so full of snow that it took several days to clear it out. All along the streets one saw heaps of snow, so that in many places neither men nor beasts could pass. There was such a quantity that it took a long time to melt away, as sometimes when boys make a snow-lion. In fact, these mountains lasted a week. It is difficult to believe without having seen it. And the same thing happened in my villa at Dicomano. I sent Benedetto to clear the house, and he found as much snow inside as if it had been roofless; and this was after a week. So it was everywhere alike.