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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


He was just an ordinary, nice white cat who lived in a cafe in the second half of the 1800's. As it happened, the cafe was in Venice and handy to the Venetian Archives and the lovely church of I Frari. This meant that visitors to both those worthy places often made a new and bewhiskered friend. (You can make some today -- see some alla italiana here).

So many befriended Nini, in fact, that as Jan Morris writes "around him there grew a dead-pan cult, rather like the mock-serious fraternity that has grown up around the fictions of Sherlock Holmes and Bertie Wooster." He had his own visitors' book at the cafe, signed in time by a Pope, a Russian Czar, an Emperor of Ethiopia, the great statesman Metternich, and Verdi (who wrote a few notes of Act III of La Traviata).

When Nini died, many kind words were lavished upon his memory. There was a memorial effigy, a plaque placed on the cafe wall, and a poem from the historian Horatio Brown, a fellow prowler of the Archives:
What wit and learning died with you,
What wisdom too!
Take these poor verses, feline cat,
Indited by an Archive rat.

--Once more from Jan Morris, A Venetian Bestiary (Thames and Hudson, 1982), pp. 70-71.

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