A Venetian "Tail" of Cat & Dog:
The "veci paroni" of Via Garibaldi

A kind reader requested more photos of cats from Venice, and I'm more than happy to oblige with the picture of a very particular cat.

We've met him before... he's Arturo, from "
Still Life in Via Garibaldi." Arturo is the steady fixture at "Chips & Colors" (our local combination copyshop, internet point, and vintage clothing store) and the unofficial meeter and greeter for Via Garibaldi. Well, actually... instead, he's really just sort of "met and greeted" by absolutely everyone, since Arturo doesn't believe in expending wasteful energy. Nevertheless, people adore his constant zen-like tranquility and, though he rarely even bats an eye at them, dogs and sparrows fear him and give him a wide berth.

Arturo received his on-the-job training from the late, great Leo. While Leo's gone to his greater reward, his memory still lives on at the "Osteria Garanghelo," just a couple of doors down toward the waterfront on Via Garibaldi, where you can see him even today. There is a painting of the typical local color of the neighborhood here, and (as you can see in the image on the right, for which I deeply thank "Chips & Colors") Leo is immortalized, forever captured in what was his very favorite pose, that of marking his territory... which, though during his lifetime was only just the entire lower half of the via, in perpetual memory in the painting, turns out to be the whole world.

Leo was a difficult dog to try to label. To look at him, he was clearly a terrier. But he was as much a companion animal as a toy, and had all the seriousness and focus of a working dog. And a difficult job he had too! With all the dogs that are allowed to room freely around here, he had to keep every single corner, benchpost, signboard, planter, etc. freshly peed on. This was clearly a mission, requiring tremendous amounts of personal commitment (not to mention water!) Sure, rivals would try to outdo him, but they'd soon hightail it out of there when he'd bark his tenaciously fierce warning (which carried even through stone walls!) and run right over to repair the damage to his ongoing masterpieces.

In addition, you could tell that Leo felt like he had a world of responsibility on his little doggy shoulders. He was always just three steps behind Pietro, his (and the shop's) owner... and he clearly believed that it was his calling to take care that his beloved human never got lost or fell into a canal or anything. Indeed, Leo was a force of nature for most of his seventeen long years, never showing his age until the very last few days of his life, which sadly ended only just last year.

For the last five years of his existence, though, Leo's best friend, next to Pietro, was Arturo. I'm not entirely sure where Arturo came from (I'll have to ask Pietro!), but one day there appeared this siamese-looking cat blithefully resting at the door of the shop that Leo clearly considered his den. Since he was the most territorial dog I'd ever seen, I thought that this was going to end very badly...

Instead, as the days passed, Arturo got closer and closer to Leo, eventually sleeping right on top of him! And they were obviously best buddies. Any dog who wanted to hassle Arturo had to go through Leo first, and no dog wanted to do that (and it's a lesson that most of them still remember well!) Then, every single evening when the shop closed, you used to see the most improbable little procession right up Via Garibaldi and winding through the narrow alleys... first Pietro, followed inevitably by Leo, who was inevitably followed by Arturo. You could count on it, like summer follows spring.

Today, Arturo doesn't travel the long marches through the alleys like he used to with Leo and Pietro. He pretty much just sticks close to the shop all the time now, since surely he knows that Pietro has a tenacious little guardian angel. Still, he seems to feel that has some big footsteps to follow in, as the latest "lord of Via Garibaldi."

Categories: ,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! This is a wonderful story!I wonder who Arturo will pass the legacy to. If Arturo accepts pets please give him one for me.