I am slowly but surely going through all my photos from our vacation, so expect lots of posts soon.
Tonight, however, I had to put up a quick post about the infamous feline residents of Sacra di Largo Argentina or Torre Argentina, an area of important ruins in central Rome.
Why did I have to? Well, today as I was working I was listening to NPR on my computer (fairly typical daily activity). I saw the headline for a recent story they did on Morning Edition called Cat Fight In Rome: Beloved Shelter Faces Closure. (Give it a listen!)
The second the audio started I knew they were talking about an area Vince and I happened upon during our walk about the city a few weeks ago. At first glance the spot is typically Roman: ruined temples, crumbling walls, column remnants, etc. But then…BAM! You suddenly begin to notice one cat after another. I’m talking about dozens upon dozens of cats in a one block area. Spotting them was almost like playing an odd version of Where’s Waldo. They were mostly napping (some in a clump under a tree) on this particular day, but a few were stalking the darker recesses of the ruins, no doubt on the hunt for some rodent snacks.
Vince was content to just stroll on by, but I just had to get a closer look and see what the place was all about.
Why the crap were there SO many cats?
Then I spotted these signs and I knew it was not just a coincidence.
The radio story actually referred to the area as “cat forum” and detailed the anger of local archaeologists and historians who want the cats removed from the reported site where Brutus killed Julius Caesar. Today, the area is more famous for its 200 feline residents than for its murderous history and some tourists seek it out specifically to see the cats. Local shelter volunteers are up in arms about the potential danger the cats face but one city council member had this to say,
“As an institution, the cats of Rome are older than the marble columns and pediments, therefore, the feline colony will not be moved.”
I was so amazed/shocked that I even took a quick video of the scene.
All this got me thinking about just why there are so many stray cats in the city. I don’t remember seeing one stay dog, but cats? TONS.
Some quick Google search reveals that there are estimated to be 300,000 feral cats living on the streets of Rome and they are fed by Gattare, or “Cat Women.” Most Romans have simply given up caring about the issue and the cats are left largely to their own devices.
One source said this,
“There is a deep-rooted affection for these cats who have an ancient bond with the city.” The city council even went so far as to protect the cats, in 2001 naming cats living in the Coliseum, the Forum and Torre Argentina a part of the city’s “bio-heritage.”
So while a few history-lovin’ types might have their panties in a twist over the cat invasion of Rome, most people don’t care.
There you have it. Rome likes its monuments and its cats; neither are going anywhere.
Interesting stuff if you ask me!
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