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Il Gatto Ninni: Storie "Nascoste" a Venezia da Scoprire Visitando
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If you’re reading this blog, perhaps it’s because you’re looking for an alternative route that isn’t too touristy and offers a unique way to discover the magnificent cities of Verona and Venice. When wandering around the narrow streets and the large squares of an historical Italian town centre, it sometimes feels as though you have been catapulted into the past, breathing in the ancient atmosphere and experiencing the fascinating historical events.

These ancestral cityscapes can become the perfect stage to embody the mysterious characters that populated them and, head turned skywards, begin a playful exploration based on mystery and fantasy.

This first article will try to send you travelling back in time to a mysterious and unknown Venice, in the footsteps of a cat named Ninni…

A seaside town could not manage without cats, which helped to keep the city clean by hunting rats and eating the remains of fish that were abandoned here and there in this city of sailors and fishermen… One cat, in particular, became so famous that it can still be seen today, portrayed in a painting on the right of the facade of the Caffè Toppo coffee shop, near the Basilica of the Frari.

As Pietro Pazzi said in his “Stradario di Venezia” (“Roadmap of Venice”), the cat was called Ninni and died in 1894… such accuracy for a mere animal!

Ninni was loved for its extraordinary ability as a rat-catcher… Such was the cat’s fame that it became a tourist attraction in the area. The coffee shop even had a book with the signatures of all those who went there to admire the cat and among them is that of Tsar Alexander III. When this feline celebrity passed away, as is the case for VIPs, many came to the coffee shop to celebrate its life, coin a souvenir medallion or write a sonnet dedicated to it!

If you are near Dorsoduro, a stop at Caffè Toppo to honour the memory of the famous cat and admire its portrait is a must!

Pietro Retrobottega