Monday, 27 August 2012

The Italian Animals You Won't Find in Travel Brochures

I'd like to give an insight (or an earful) into the loudest noise in Italy (well, second perhaps if you consider Roberto Benigni!) and tell you about some of the Italian creatures which I doubt you'll find in travel brochures.

The first day of summer often arrives in dramatic fashion in Italy. It goes from "oo-that's-a-bit-chilly" to "pffffff! It's boiling!!" within about 24 hours. When this happened in Bologna, I opened the windows straight away and was hit by a deafening racket. I thought there must be something wrong with my ears or that I'd developed a sudden and localized case of tinnitus. I asked my Italian students if that could hear it only to be given a quizzical look and the response, 'um, what noise?' Apparently, they'd all become immune to the sound that was coming through the open windows but to my English ear, the noise was just incredible.

Hear the Cicada Here

High up in the nearby trees, there were tens of cicadas, a loud chunky looking insect with a unique mating song. Their serenade is 120 decibels at close range (the same intensity as a jet engine) which means your ears could be permanently damaged if you held one to your ear. Even the cicada has to close its own ears to prevent itself from being deafened! However, the loudness of the males' wooing technique also acts as a nifty deterrent to keep birds from gobbling up these juicy insects. 

The gross thing about the cicada is that it begins its life on the tree trunk as a larvae and then leaves its exoskeleton on the trunk when it moves up the tree. This means that you have creepy insect shaped formations plastered all over the tree trunks. 

Other Animals that I've Discovered

Firstly, there are the huge green grasshoppers (cavellette) which I've encountered twice: one nonchalantly crossing a main road and the other, a beast which jumped into the kitchen and pooped on the microwave (below).

I often jump or let out an embarrassing squeak when I hear the sound of rustling leaves in the hedges here. Thankfully, the source of the rustling tends to be little lizards which scurry away as you walk on the pavement. You'll usually find them in grassy areas in the outskirts of Italian cities especially if you're on route to an out of town department stores or IKEA.

And finally, just to show that even Italy is not immune to gross things, during my morning walk, I came across this lovely creature...

and this is what happened 20 seconds later...

and then this...


  1. MashaAllah nice blog sister. Nice to meet you let's follow each others blog and get to know each other inshaAllah.

    1. shukran jazilan! I'm following your blogs now. where are you from?

  2. Assalamu 'alaykum :-) I love the sound cicadas make!

    your Italian sister living in Treviso

  3. Are you a moslem from Italian? ;)
    Wow, I'm so glad to find you <3
    Btw, I'm moslem too, check my blog and follow me if you don't mind :)

  4. I bet you saw that rat in Giardini Margherita! I saw a few there too. But there are many more creepy crawlies in Pennsylvania, where I'm from, so I'm happy!
    I like your blog - I found it by chance tonight when looking for images to illustrate posters advertising this lecture event:

    "Islam in the Italian Public Space: Reactions and Perspectives"

    by Professor Stefano Allievi, University of Padova
    May 8, 2014, at 5:30 pm
    Camplus Bononia
    Via Sante Vincenzi 49,
    40138 Bologna

    Please come if you can! And keep up the writing - it's refreshing!


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