Many of you have seen either in person or in the movies all of the pigeons in St. Marks Square. This is truly the only place that I am aware of where disgusting, disease carrying, filthy, health hazard rodents are a tourist attraction! They start to make their appearance early in the morning (upon seeing the first human walk by) in hopes of getting some breakfest grub. By 11am, the Square is filled with tourists and piccioni (pigeons)....and I do mean filled. Then when the sun goes down and the people start dissipating to their respective hotels, the birds go somewhere (its a mystery to all mankind) to sleep off a hard days work. And the cycle continues daily--there are no holidays for these birds. Day in and day out they ascend on St Marks to feed and avoid the possibility of getting stepped on--or worse--picked up by a seagull overhead for an afternoon snack!!
Most people gladly give away their 1 euro fee for a bag of unpopped popcorn and start out tossing a few kernels on the ground, laughing in delight when numerous birds flock their way. Those more daring, put the kernels in their hands and outstretch their arms waiting for the pigeons to fly up and eat out of their hand....this, of course, causes some sort of bird frenzy and next thing you know, they are all over this person from head to toe pecking and jockeying for food. This is the point where most girls squeal with fear and exhiliariation at their predicament and then take off running to escape certain death ala The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. Once to freedom, they open their bag of kernels and repeat so that family and friends can see and snap pictures. Pour, run and repeat until bag is empty.
This rite of passage is one that I have yet to participate in. I have less than zero interest in letting some filthy animal crawl over me while I provide him or her with food. I dont get it. However, I have been asked to take pictures over the years in my visits for those people who just HAVE to do this because 'when in Rome'....and I oblige because I certainly wouldnt want to deny anyone their opportunity to experience a good Hitchcock moment!
Over time, there has been a legend that has been created that having a pigeon poop on you is good luck. Probably created by the same people who sell the unpopped popcorn as a marketing ploy. However, today, away from the Square I was dive bombed by a pigeon and hit on my right thigh, full bladder. Lovely shades of green, white and black all over my clothes, legs, purse and bag. The best part is that I didnt notice it right away nor that it even happened. So I had plenty of time to walk around spreading it amongst my belongings before becoming aware. I wish I could have seen how this bird managed to poop at a 90 degree angle from my leg to hit me just so, but nonetheless, he or she did. Still waiting for my lucky event and you will be the first to know what it is!