Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 3, 2014

I smell a rat


With our copy of Secret Venice in hand, we set off to discover some hidden secrets. The first one we came upon was the rat graffiti at the end of Calle del Traghetto on the magnificent Grand Canal.


According to the date above the rat, it has been there since 1644. Rats apparently arrived in Europe from distant lands and brought the plague with them. Somebody clearly thought the rat needed to be represented and carved one into one of the thick columns beside the canal.

There has been a systematic sterilisation of the large colonies of cats in Venice, allowing rats to flourish. It is said that there are 5 rats for every Venetian in the city.

…more Venice soon.


  1. They uegently need moré ferocious cats!

    • It isn’t good to see colonies of mangey cats around either. Maybe they should steralize the rats.

  2. Graffiti that’s nearly four centuries old! How cool is that!

  3. I’ve only ever seen one rat, in all the many times I’ve been in Venice. Maybe they keep different hours than I do!

    • I have not seen any, I am happy with the graffiti.

  4. So glad it’s proving to be fun – love Jimlet’s hat

    • We have already found many secrets…it’s great fun, thanks for the book. We will have to hunt down Secret Rome and Tuscany.

  5. I notice the rat has a ‘corrugated’ tail which, given my extensive knowledge of rats, I don’t think is usual. Venetians can relax though because clearly Inspector James is hot on the tail/trail!!! I hope you have a wonderfully patterned deer stalker and magnifying glass in your kit.

    • Perhaps his tail got caught in the Venetian blinds.

      • Boomboom:)

  6. Steralised but still flourishing colonies, Debra? But I have to say, walking back home, late at night, deserted streets, black canals, there were always the faintest sounds just beyond me, sending the hairs on my neck a twitching! Looking forward to further entries from your Secret Venice adventures. 🙂

    • The cat population will gradually diminish I suppose, leaving the rats to themselves. Maybe they will need to reintroduce cats.

  7. At last, the sort of graffiti we can all enjoy! …. Brilliant intro Deb! So looking forward to the next instalment…

    • …a bit like Michelangelo’s graffiti in Florence. I thought it was great.

      • Exactly!

  8. Very clever Francis. I couldn’t stand to watch our cat play with mice and would also help their escape.

  9. Wish I had known about the book before I went. But glad i wasn’t aware of the rat statistics! Look forward to the rest with anticipation 🙂

  10. That is so interesting.
    I have to say, thank goodness I didn’t see any while I was there.
    And it was lovely meeting you Debra, and thank you for everything you did for us. xx

    • I am pleased you saw no rats, neither have we, except the graffiti rat. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  11. Oh I am following your side trip and wishing I was there too. You make it all very real. thanks. Looking forward to you coming back home to share even more stories. x

  12. Worrisome about the cats and rats population….

    • We didn’t see any cats or rats on our visit, they must have been hiding.

  13. […] here, here and here for more secret finds…there will be more to […]

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