28 February 2008

The pigeons

File this under “Things I Just Don’t Get” - the famous pigeons of Piazza San Marco.

Regarding these creatures, I belong to the “rats with wings” school of thought. Can someone explain to me the fascination so many visitors to Venice have with these nasty, annoying birds? Why they would actually pay for food to attract them? Why they enjoy having them swarm around in such great numbers? Why they want to lure them to sit on their heads, shoulders, and arms? Why they like to get snapshots of this?

Venice’s city fathers frequently ponder the problem of i piccioni and the damage their acidic droppings do to artworks, monuments, and architectural treasures. The more extreme solutions have included, among other things, poisoning (grim results) and birth control (just a bit crazy). Silly me! I’m thinking, “Here’s an idea – just stop feeding them!” In fact, I’m told it’s illegal to do so anywhere other than the Piazza. But the tourists don’t know that, and I see elderly Venetians scattering crumbs everywhere!

Ah, well. I suppose it wouldn’t really be the Piazza without them. And I guess this is just one of those things I'll never understand about my lovely city.