In Famous Square in City of Gondolas, tourists were feeding pigeons, pigeons that were so habituated that they would land on people's heads or sit on their arms. The sight was oddly fascinating, but disturbing as well. One little boy, who seemed to be there with his parents, kept screaming in fright as the pigeons dive-bombed his head, and he was sobbing by the time his parents finally paid attention to him and led him away from the area. One teenage girl had pigeons clinging to her shoulders and she just kept spinning around in a strangely hypnotic dance.
When I walked into the flock of pigeons, I closed my eyes almost right away, because one landed on my head, and two more on my bare arms. I held my arms stiff, and I could feel their claws on my skin, the weight of each bird shifting and moving, their wings beating the warm air.
I read later on the internet that the long tradition of feeding pigeons in the square was outlawed this month. It's true that we didn't see anyone selling birdseed; most people were feeding the pigeons scraps of their own lunches. But I think the tradition itself may take some time to fade away.
That's me, with some pigeons.