Fish Day Cacophony

February 4, 2014 / Local Interest
Rome, Lazio

Tuesdays and Fridays are fish days at the neighborhood markets in the piazze of Italy. No, you can’t buy fish on the other days… and if you find any on other days, you do so at your own risk. That’s just the way it is.

You know it’s fish day at some markets because you can hear the noisy gabbiani (seagulls) before setting foot in the piazza. Some fish vendors decide to feed them directly from their stalls. As the fish are cleaned for the clients, the birds are fed the scraps from gutting. The fishmongers often give the removed bits either directly to the birds or to patrons so they can also feed the seagulls for a laugh.

Oh how quaint, right? Not so fast! Keep in mind these are not your majestic Jonathan Livingston kind of seagulls. These are instead street savvy, brawlin’ and bruisin’ seagulls with 3 foot wingspans that now sit at the top of the aggressive avian omnivore pecking order, and have a severe case of entitlement. Buy fish without feeding them and they WILL bark at you.

What’s funny is that they’re like clockwork. They turn up before the fish stalls even open every Tuesday and Friday mornings, ready and waiting for their fish scraps (perched on top of the vegetable stall in front of the fish stall). They must have calendars that they consult. Indeed, they’re nowhere to be seen on the other days of the week. There are obviously other places seagulls go to scavenge food on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends.

gabbiani2

GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

6 Responses to “Fish Day Cacophony”

  1. Rosemary

    Hilarious! It really is fascinating how they know when to come – perhaps they see the fishing boats??? Birds are amazing creatures!

    Reply
  2. THIS IS THE BEST PARAGRAPH: “You know it’s fish day at some markets because you can hear the noisy gabbiani (seagulls) before setting foot in the piazza. Some fish vendors decide to feed them directly from their stalls. As the fish are cleaned for the clients, the birds are fed the scraps from gutting. The fishmongers often give the removed bits either directly to the birds or to patrons so they can also feed the seagulls for a laugh.” I relate that to when crossing the English Channel one time, all the garbage was thrown over board and the seagulls (gabbiani) followed our boat & fought over trash continually.

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  3. Joan Schmelzle

    Could this be the type of “brawlin’ and bruisin” creature that attacked the Pope’s dove not too long ago? Must be one of them was in Piazza San Pietro on a Sunday looking to scavenge. I don’t suppose it was too happy with the crow that came along for the action!

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  4. Giancarlos: That’s a wonderful story that somehow slipped past us over our decades of travel in your beloved Roma. Mille Grazie, Suzanne and Ron

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  5. Seagulls are, indeed, opportunists. On East Coast (USA) beaches, they will swoop down and take a sandwich right out of the unsuspecting hand should it be slightly raised, or wait for the right moment to steal whatever lies exposed. They are funny, aggressive and also beautiful to see when soaring.

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