08 August, 2006

Pigeon Heroes

I've just learned, via this BBC radio show, that more pigeons (32) than any other animal have been awarded the Dickin Medal for heroism. This medal is meant to be equivalent to the Victoria Cross. It has also been won by a slightly smaller number of dogs, a few horses, and one cat.

Gustav the pigeon is seen receiving his award here.

07 August, 2006

Lions of Florence

flaminio vaca's lion, florence

One of the most excellent parts of visiting Italy was seeing all the great lion statues that are distributed around the sites at Rome, Florence and Venice. Of course, the art is generally amazing, and may even be enough to renew one's faith in the capacity of humans to be great. But that's for another post - what I've been thinking about this morning is the lions, specifically. For example, this is a picture of a lion at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. He was created by an artist who's not really paid that much attention to - Flaminio Vaca, and he's a copy of a Roman lion (perhaps the one who sits on the other site of the little loggia). But he's stunning!

And he's sitting across the square from a copy of Donatello's Marzocco, the heraldic lion of Florence. Also beautiful, but in a sadder, sweeter, way. The original Marzocco is in the Barghello museum nearby. Wikipedia has a description of these in which the Vaca lion is mistakenly labeled as Donatello's. Clearly, it is not.

donatello's lion Marzocco

02 August, 2006

Italian pigeons (Venice)

The Venetian pigeons in the Piazza San Marco are especially lovely. Here I am with Il Scacchiera ('checkers'), who was a very congenial companion.

Italian pigeons (names thereof)

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post - and in the meanwhile I've had a lovely trip to Italy in which I saw many, many beautiful items. Including, Italian pigeons. About whom I've learned that they seem to conform nicely to the naming conventions I've outlined here (perhaps with simple translations, such as "Il Pantalone" and "Il Blu"). For example, this bird - Il Pantalone - was sitting on a ledge on the Santa Maria della Fiore in Florence. Isn't he lovely?