When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Most Enchanting And Disgusting Thing About Rome

Look up in the sky. No wait, don't!

Starlings over Rome's Ponte Sant'Angelo
Starlings over Rome's Ponte Sant'Angelo
Julie Farrar

ROME — This is the time of year in the Eternal City when flocks of some of the four million migratory starlings darken the sky, circling the iconic monuments in often dazzling formations.

[rebelmouse-image 27087500 alt="""" original_size="351x197" expand=1]

via YouTube expand=1]

Caught in the just the right light, the sight can be Rome at its most enchanting. That is, until, the birds release their bowels. Particularly near the Tiber river when dusk sets in, some have described it as a "hailstorm."

Photo by InternetAutoGuide

Every year along the Tiber, in public gardens and on tree-lined streets, says daily paper La Stampa, the city becomes smothered with layers of bird excrement and mud. The rains that arrive don't necessarily clean the poop, but rather make it slippery, and raise the risk for accidents.

[rebelmouse-image 27087501 alt="""" original_size="360x270" expand=1]

via YouTube expand=1]

The starlings choose to roost in the plane trees that line the river en route to warmer climes in Africa. They also favor the city's street lighting, which is believed to make them feel more protected from predatory birds.

Photo by mikitazzi via Instagram

Video by ailian91 via Instagram

Until now Rome's city council had hired people to prune the trees, as well as walk under them as they play recordings of the screeching noises starlings make when the predatory falcons approach.

[rebelmouse-image 27087502 alt="""" original_size="333x499" expand=1]

Over Ponte Sant'Angelo. Photo by RaSeLaSeD - Il Pinguino via Flickr

Piazza Venezia and monument to King Vittorio Emmanuele. Photo by thinkpipes via Flickr

As soon as dusk falls, the areas around the river are best to be avoided. Parked cars become targets, moped drivers and cyclists too.

[rebelmouse-image 27087503 alt="""" original_size="598x330" expand=1]

Photo by @tuttacronaca1 via Twitter

Photo by francescococcofoto via Instagram

Earlier this year cuts had been announced to the 100,000 euro budget for mitigating the birds' impact. Corriere della Sera writes that this year residents and cyclists would have to take to the streets with pots and pans and make their own racket, as they did years ago, to scare the birds off.

Photo by @emimes via Twitter

This moped got off lightly. Photo by kmillard92 via Flickr

[rebelmouse-image 27087504 alt="""" original_size="500x375" expand=1]

Photo by antmoose via Flickr

But last week it was announced that these funds have now been reinstated, according to La Repubblica, and the “distress call” system will be back up and running within a few days at dusk. But until then, say an extra little prayer anytime you look up.

[rebelmouse-image 27087505 alt="""" original_size="500x293" expand=1]

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest