With the groups off and me able to finish at least one chunk of Walsh work, I got chances to walk both towards the sea and to do my own ritual, walk up the hill, down to Lago Albano, and back. I’m sorry that I have no visuals of the group to share, as they were all gone until dinner time, but I’ll quickly discuss another theme of travel, in my mind at least, and that is observing how people get along in cities.
But first, a picture of a couple of pictures of Italian cats:
Notice the differences from American cats?
Actually, the Italian relationship with pets speaks to the ways that people learn to live in close proximity with others. Italians – those in Roma and its suburbs, anyway – seem far more indulgent of other people’s pets than I’m used to. Dogs are allowed in restaurants and shops, cats roam the streets and are fed daily by people who I don’t think ‘own’ them (as if anyone really owns a cat), something I definitely have not noticed in American cities. In parks dogs are often off their leash, and aside from being some of the best behaved dogs I’ve ever seen no one seems to mind. I also have not seen the byproducts of allowing dogs this freedom, so someone must be picking up a lot of err, stuff.
This relationship with other people’s pets, I think, brings up a bunch of questions about how Romans relate to each other. Are there arguments about whose turn it is to feed the outside cats, for instance? Do people who have birds or rodents (said with love) as pets not like this? Are there mandatory dog-training schools that all Romans who want to have a dog must attend? Where are the authorities in all of this? We often think of Europe as this incredibly regulated society, but in certain ways there is far less bureaucratic intrusion than in our American lives.
In general, then, what does this seeming ability to allow other people’s pets this much freedom (and thus intrusion into our own lives) mean about a culture? In my mind, as someone who feeds far too many cats, I find it to be a good thing, but what does ‘good’ mean in this context? Are we somehow more open and honest with each other because of this openness about pets? Are we too open and honest with each other?
Anyone with conclusions can feel free to draw them here! I promise that tomorrow I’ll go back to documenting what our wonderful folks have been up to…in the meantime, another photo, this one looking at boats (ah, the joys of mucking about in boats, as Bro. Power used to say when we discussed The Wind in the Willows).