Can you guess?
No, nothing to do with music or food, at least not directly. Rossini is an orange tabby cat who became famous in Rovigo, a city in the Veneto, about 80 kilometers southwest of Venice. As his reputation spread far and wide, Rossini now must handle his celebrity status and press with a Facebook page and an Instagram profile. He has thousands of followers.
Rossini’s story begins in Bosnia. As a kitten, he was found among the rubble in a house by an animal rights volunteer and brought to Italy to Rovigo. He was adopted by Valentina, who lives with her family in the town’s center where he quickly became the town idol, “the cat’s meow,” who is courted and cuddled by authorities, business men and women, and shopkeepers.
What is so special about Rossini (not that every cat isn’t special)? Is it his regal gait? Is it because he adores the company of human beings? Or is it his gypsy spirit that leads him to wander the city from morning to night—from bars to restaurants, to concerts, to town hall meetings, to private homes.? Wherever he goes, he receives the “red carpet” treatment—delicious treats, bowls of water, and welcoming scratches behind the ears.
Photos posted on Instagram document his activities from moment to moment. Here is Rossini sprawled in the first row to hear a jazz concert. There he is in the window of the central bookstore resting on the books of Wilbur Smith. And here he is in the arms of the mayor at the town hall council meetings. (What is not posted is the picture of Rossini making pee-pee in the salon of the Town Hall.)
It is rumored that his calendar is crammed fuller than that of the mayor. Fans write to him from all over Italy: “Ciao Rossini, ti seguo da Roma, sei un amore.” Hi Rossini, I follow you from Rome, you are a love, writes a Facebook fan. Io sono di Taranto, ma vorrei venire a Rovigo solo per incontrarti” I am from Taranto (in Puglia), but I would like to come to Rovigo just to meet you, posts another admirer.
Everybody loves Rossini…except perhaps the fire fighters of Rovigo, who have lost count of the times they have been called to save Rossini from some inaccessible place —the roof of a palazzo, the top of a church, and even inside a prison. How he got there nobody knows. The calls from the citizens to the fire department are at least weekly: “Run, Rossini is blocked in.” “Hurry, Rossini is in danger.”
Despite a lovely home, Rossini loves big spaces. The street is his world. After each scrape, he returns home, purrs for Valentina, and then sets out again for new adventures.