In 1513 Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21) received a rather special gift from the King of Portugal, Manuel de Aviz. The gift took the form of an elephant, which was called Annone (Hanno) in memory of one of Hannibal's generals.
The elephant quickly became a great favourite, both with the pope and the people of Rome, who flocked to see it. Annone was taught by his keeper to do a variety of tricks, one of which was to kneel in the presence of the Holy Father. Sadly, Rome's climate did not suit Annone and he died three years later, much to the distress of the pope.
There is a small carving of Annone in the beautiful courtyard of Palazzo Baldassini (Via delle Coppelle, 35). The palazzo (1514-19) was constructed by the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger for Melchiorre Baldassini, the papal jurist.
Blogging about Rome, its history, art and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian, writer and guide