ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: LA STORIA – Elena, la regina delle gattare compie 100 anni: una vita da animalista & la festa di compleanno. CORRIERE DELLA SERA (19-20/05/2017) & THE NEW YORK TIMES (20/01/1995).

Roma. Elena Bruni gattara centenaria

ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: LA STORIA – Elena, la regina delle gattare compie 100 anni: una vita da animalista & la festa di compleanno. CORRIERE DELLA SERA (19-20/05/2017) & THE NEW YORK TIMES (20/01/1995).

ROMA | LA STORIA – Elena, la regina delle gattare, compie 100 anni: una vita da animalista. Nel 1995 sul New York Times apparve un articolo su di lei, difendeva i mici di Roma. La figlia: «Mamma finì poi su tutti i giornali del mondo». La festa in piazza Campitelli. CORRIERE DELLA SERA (19-20/05/2017).

Per lei domani mattina ci sarà una grande festa in piazza Campitelli: Elena Bruni, la prima «gattara» di Roma compie 100 anni. E la figlia Stella ha voluto fare le cose in grande con tanto di cerimonia in chiesa e poi ricevimento nel bel giardino di Santa Maria in Campitelli. «Mamma me la ricordo sempre gattara, ma proprio gattara – racconta con un po’ di emozione Stella -. Quando abitavamo a Monteverde scendeva alle 4 di mattina per dar da mangiare ai gatti. Un po’ lei era schiva, ed un po’ la gente del quartiere protestava perché l’accusavano di sporcare la strada. Ma quando poi è diventata famosa le facevano l’inchino…». Famosa Elena Bruni lo è diventata nel gennaio del 1995, quando sul New York Times apparve un articolo su di lei che difendeva i mici di Roma: «Poi è stata intervistata da tutti i giornali del mondo».

Elena è un po’ un’ «americana di Roma»: è nata a Boston il 20 maggio del 1917 da Enrico, un imprenditore che si era trasferito negli Stati Uniti e che quando lei aveva 8 anni è tornato in patria. Era rimasto vedevo poco dopo la nascita della figlia e infatti «il più grande dolore della sua vita è stato quello di non aver mai potuto pronunciare la parola “mamma”», si commuove ancora la figlia nel raccontarlo. Nella Capitale è poi andata a scuola dalle maestre Filippine a largo Arenula e da lì per tornare a casa passava da via del teatro di Marcello e si fermava a parlare con Ernesto Barberi, il figlio del titolare dell’«Antico caffè» (esiste dal 1886, è un negozio storico) che sarebbe diventato suo marito.

Così per lei è iniziata una vita romana divisa tra il lavoro al bar e la passione per i mici: ed è stata proprio la colonia felina del Teatro di Marcello la prima della quale si è occupata, oltre che naturalmente di tutti quelli di Monteverde dove allora viveva. Oggi la sua abitazione è sopra l’Antico Caffè, insieme alla figlia ed al nipote, e naturalmente ai gatti: ben nove e spesso qualcuno dorme ancora sul suo letto. Ormai centenaria non vede e sente pochissimo, però sul volto si legge ancora l’antica bellezza e l’amore che ha nutrito per la famiglia e per i tanti animali che nel tempo ha tenuto a vivere con sé: non solo mici, anche cani, piccioni, tortore, «un’animalista al cento per cento», ricorda la figlia. Una passione nata spontaneamente e che poi è riuscita a trasmettere perfino al nipote. E ancor oggi è Elena la memoria storica delle colonie feline: quando nacque l’ «Ufficio diritti animali» e iniziò il censimento dei gatti romani fu lei a tracciare le mappe di gatti e gattare che vi erano intorno al Campidoglio e a Monteverde. Nel tempo si è poi battuta per le sterilizzazioni e la protezione delle colonie storiche. Per questo domattina alla festa ci saranno anche alcune sue colleghe come Paola e Margherita, testimoni di antiche battaglie «quando per nutrire i mici per le strade si doveva andare con il polmone e la carne», non con croccantini e scatolette. E oggi che la colonia felina del Teatro di Marcello non c’è più (da 15 anni) tra i ruderi sopravvivono solo Romeo e due gatti rossi che, ovvio, vengono nutriti dalla famiglia Barberi.

FONTE | SOURCE:

— CORRIERE DELLA SERA (19-20/05/2017).

http://roma.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/17_maggio_19/elena-regina-gattare-compie-100-anni-vita-animalista-ffee2984-3c5c-11e7-bc08-57e58a61572b.shtml

http://roma.corriere.it/foto-gallery/cronaca/17_maggio_20/elena-gattara-compie-100-anni-festa-compleanno-39ba142c-3d55-11e7-a425-2bf1a959c761_preview.shtml

ROMA, Elena Bruni in: Rome Journal; A Slur, Cry Italy’s Cat Ladies, and the Fur Flies. THE NEW YORK TIMES (20 January 1995).

ROME, Jan. 19— It doesn’t take much to stir Rome’s “gattare,” the dedicated army of cat ladies who feed the estimated 200,000 wild cats that make their home in the city’s ancient monuments.

So when a recent article in a popular Roman newspaper shocked local pet owners with the news that an AIDS-like virus was on the rise among Roman strays, Elena Bruni was indignant. She took the report as a slur against her charges, a mangy melange of cats that haunt the empty arches of the Teatro di Marcello, across the street from the cafe-bar she and her family own.

“There have always been sick cats, just as there have always been healthy cats,” said Mrs. Bruni, a carefully coiffed 68-year-old. Every day for more than 30 years she has provided scraps and canned food to three cat colonies lucky enough to live on her way to work. “I don’t believe in this AIDS business,” she said. “Before, we said they had a cold; now it’s called AIDS.”

The article, in Il Messaggero, was careful to point out that the virus, feline leukemia, posed no danger to humans. But its headline, “Roman Cats, Be on Guard Against Infection: Veterinarians Sound the Alarm,” was enough to send phones ringing off the hooks at veterinary clinics around the city.

The uproar prompted Monica Cirinna, a city councilor who heads the Rome office of Animal Rights, to go on television to reassure panicky pet owners. But just as she feared, it was too late for some domestic cats. The morning after the article appeared, nine new cats were abandoned at the Protestant Cemetery, known as the burial place of Keats but also home to 250 cats, one of the largest colonies in Rome.

A city veterinarian estimated that 10 percent of the city’s 100,000 domestic cats were abandoned because of the article.

“This article was very damaging, and it caused us some terrible days,”‘ said Ms. Cirinna, speaking in a cubbyhole of an office tucked behind the cupola of the former Church of St. Rita, now used by the city as an exhibition hall.

If Rome’s cats had a vote — and they already have a long list of rights — they would surely elect Ms. Cirinna, a 31-year-old lawyer, as their representative. As it is, she was elected to the city council as a member of the Green Party and has been assigned the task of overseeing Rome’s remarkable animal rights law, adopted in 1988.

Under the law, the model for national legislation now being adapted to other Italian cities, wild cats, for instance, are guaranteed the right to live where they are born.

In other words, human beings cannot try to chase them from courtyards or rooftops, parks or street corners, let alone from their beloved archeological niches, like the Coliseum, the Teatro di Marcello, Trajan’s Market or the Pyramid of Cestius.

“We no longer talk about stray cats,” Ms. Cirinna said, “but about animals that have chosen to live in freedom, like birds. That entitles them to certain rights, including the right to their own territory.”

The city has used the law to coordinate efforts by a network of cat lovers whose ranks include opera stars, actresses (Anna Magnani was a cat lady), bank directors and lawyers, as well as the more ordinary “gattare” whose daily pilgrimages are a fixture of Roman life.

anna_magnani

By the time their benefactors arrive at fixed feeding points, dozens of cats are already waiting, skittering about the bushes in anticipation of their next meal, which sometimes includes a pasta course.

“For the most part, the majority of Romans love cats,” Ms. Cirinna said. “And they live well, because people love them.” But many cat ladies have other tales to tell, of being yelled at by people who accuse them of feeding vermin and of spreading diseases, of finding cats poisoned and killed.

“We have one of the most advanced laws on animal rights, but a far lower social consciousness,” said Dr. Claudio Fantini, who heads one of the city’s veterinary services. “There is enormous indifference out there. And these are costly programs at a time when things are difficult.”

The 1988 law also bars the city from killing stray animals who end up in its pounds, a policy that leaves many a beast to serve a life sentence without hope or reprieve in the city kennels. Dr. Fantini calls that aspect of the law “barbaric” but supports a related policy of citywide sterilization sweeps.

At the moment, 500 colonies totaling 7,000 to 8,000 cats are under veterinary supervision, either by the city’s own services or by private volunteers. Dr. Fantini’s team pays “sterilization” visits to two colonies a week. He estimates that Rome has 10,000 cat colonies.

The sterilization program gives due consideration to the delicate dynamics of the cat colonies. Males are castrated only in so-called “closed” colonies, like the one at the Protestant Cemetery, because in a more open environment they would become easier targets for their male rivals. The females are usually sterilized in a way that allows them to still go into heat, as a way of keeping the local males from straying outside the colony in search of a mate.

Dr. Fantini said there had been no organized effort in recent years to test stray cats for the leukemia or for F.I.V. — feline immunodeficiency virus. Such tests, he said, would be “a waste of money.”

Giovanni Castrucci, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Perugia, said, “The situation today is really no different than it was 10 years ago.”

“Perhaps the fact that cats are now more popular means that we are seeing more cases,” he said. “It’s obvious that our awareness of cats is greater, and with that comes a greater awareness of what might afflict them.”

Photo: A report that an AIDS-like virus is on the rise among stray cats in Rome drew an indignant response from Elena Bruni, one of Rome’s army of cat ladies. “Before, we said they had a cold, now it’s called AIDS,” said Mrs. Bruni, who fed one of her charges recently in front of the Teatro di Marcello. (Francesco Zizola for The New York Times).

FONTE | SOURCE:

— THE NEW YORK TIMES (20 January 1995).

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/20/world/rome-journal-a-slur-cry-italy-s-cat-ladies-and-the-fur-flies.html

FOTO | FONTE | SOURCE:

— Roma – A stray cat washing up in The Forum, Rome (date?).

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