Italian pigeons play the role of tourist props as submissively as their British cousins.
SUBMITTED BY: Douglas Mack LOCATION: Venice, Italy (2009)
The pigeons in New York and Boston are virtually flying rats, perhaps the filthiest birds in the urban biosphere. So what makes their brethren any more appealing in London’s Trafalgar Square or Venice’s Piazza San Marco?
Why would anyone want to channel their inner St. Francis of Assissi at the risk of being showered with milky white pigeon poop?
According to travel writer Doug Mack, who is now boldly touring the continent using his parents’ tattered 1963 copy of “Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day,” the Pigeons of the Piazza are just as mandatory as the gondolas and canals for cliched Venice tourist poses.
“The pigeons are only too happy to pose for the camera,” he says. “All I had to do was stand still for a few seconds and put my arms out a bit, and they fluttered up.”
Adds Mack: “It also turned out to be a great way to meet people — as such silly tourist scenes often are. I held my camera out to a woman who happened to be standing nearby, and she took my photo; then the birds flew to her and I returned the favor.”
Allegedly, it is good luck to have pigeons defecate on you. Mack seems quite happy staying dry.
(Doug Mack is a travel writer currently on an ambitious quest to sneer at poet Robert Frost and take the Road Most Traveled through touristy Europe. Read about his latest adventures at his “Europe on Five Bad Ideas a Day” blog.)