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Camilla Verdacchi

The legend of the Rome parrots

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Let's start with an indisputable fact: the sky of Rome is populated with parrots. They can be seen flying in flocks, especially in the early morning and sunset hours; they crowd the crowns of trees, most frequently near the course of the Tiber, and often - as in the photo - they rest peacefully on the windowsills and on the terraces of the roman houses.

They are of two different species: Collared Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) originating in Asia and Africa, and the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)from South America.

However, as everyone knows, Italy is not certainly a land of parrots.
Where did they come from?
Legend tells that they have taken place in Rome, a city with a mild and comfortable climate, for a few centuries now, and that the first couples to reproduce freely have escaped from the aviary of Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Portrait of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, by Ottavio Leoni

Scipione Borghese, passionate collector, wanted this aviary, precisely in Villa Borghese, to host his wonderful collection of birds.
A widespread practice in the 17th century, keeping birds was the consequence of the explorations of the animal and plant world of those years.
Only those who had large amounts of money could boast the privilege of keeping rare species of birds in the aviaries of their villa.
The cardinal had a great variety of birds, some fascinated him for their tweet, others for the colors.

The splendid aviary of Villa Borghese

Therefore, according to legend, one of the legacies that the Borghese have left in Rome still flies in the skies of the city, cheering everyone up with a crystalline, very cheerful, and very harmonious verse.

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