i once remember reading that italian comps referred to asterisks as flowers (slang) can anybody confirm this?
I'll make an uneducated guess and say that asterisks might have at one time, by the Italians maybe (Alessandro?), considered asterisks as part of the fleurons or borders and that sort of thing. So it isn't such a stretch to think that it is possible that they did call asterisks -- flowers.
Let the slaughter begin.
For what it's worth, fleurons and asterisks have historically functioned in much the same way and are, even today, somewhat interchangeable for most uses.