Glocal Eyes - Blog

What other animal is better suited to interpret the spirit of the perfect Roman citizen if not the cat, who is apparently idle and indolent, as to seem detached from worldly matters, but that, instead, proves to be always watchful and attentive and ready to intervene at the appropriate time.

Well, you should know that Rome has dedicated a street, Via della Gatta, to this animal and in the past also a square, Piazza della Gatta, but that now is known as Piazza Grazioli, like the palace of XVI century owned by the Grazioli family in the nineteenth century, on whose door there is a plaque commemorating the hero killed in the war in Libya, in 1911, Riccardo Grazioli Lante della Rovere.
But why has a cat received the honor of having its own street?
According to popular tradition, a cat that wandered among the roofs of the area was aware of the grave danger of a child who was walking on the ledge of the building and with her meows could warn the mother of the infant that could then save him before he fell off the precipice.
In memory of this act, a marble statue was placed on Palazzo Grazioli, at the corner of Via della Gatta, depicting the heroic animal.
The statue is believed to have come from the temple of Isis (IseumCampensis) that rose right in that area.
This temple was dedicated to the Egyptian cult of Isis and her consort Serapis and was built in 43 BC, undergoing various vicissitudes over time related to the acceptance or not of the religious worship by the imperial authorities.
It was destroyed in 80 A.D. by fire, but was rebuilt by Domitian, modified by Adriano and restored under the Severan dynasty. From the fifth century, its traces disappeared, except for the various parts that are found scattered around the city.
Since this is a statue on an Egyptian cult, this Roman cat could possibly represent Bastet, cat-goddess of motherhood and protection. In this case the story passed down by popular tradition might agree perfectly with the features of the goddess Bastet.
Worth noting that at the corner of Via della Gatta and Piazza del Collegio Romano, on the Palazzo Doria-Pamphili is located a Madonnella, a sacred portrait, containing a painting of 1796, named The Immaculate Conception, representing an image of a Madonna who tenderly holds in her arms a cat.
But as we are in Rome one legend is not enough.
It is said that the exact spot where the cat set her eyes there lies a wonderful hidden treasure.
It seems, however, that this point has not yet been identified since there is not any official or popular tale about the discovery of a treasure in the area.
Perhaps because as Marco Lodoli writes "cats have pupils who look elsewhere"?
In a more approximate way, however we could note that under the gaze of the cat there is the Biblioteca Rispoli and then we could come to the intellectual conclusion that the wonderful treasure may be represented by the cultural knowledge that is housed there.


Via della Gatta corner with Piazza Grazioli (the Cat) - Via della Gatta corner with Piazza del Collegio Romano (the Madonnella)