Monday, April 9

rabbits again

When I first moved to Italy I was horrified to discover that people kept rabbits in tiny cages for the purpose of fattening up and eating them. It seemed cruel and barbaric to me and I felt so bad for the poor rabbits.

The urge to set them free was very strong but I did understand that these rabbits had been born and bred in captivity and wouldn't know how to survive if I released them.

Easter Monday her in Italy is known as Pasquetta and it is tradition for Italian families to go out for the day, preferably in the countryside for a picnic or a walk. One year my friend Lara and I decided to have a picnic in a friends garden up in the village above Positano. We made sandwiches and salads, packed fruit and fairy cakes and a blanket to sit on and set off up the mountain.

Gardens in Positano are usually put to practical use, growing vegetables and keeping chickens, rabbits and bees. The gardens are always long and narrow strips carved into the side of the mountain like giant steps, fruit and olive trees are intertwined with vegetable patches and coops and cages.

Lara and I arrived with a few friends in the garden. The boys had decided to light a barbeque and were fiddling with the grill. Lara lay a blanket on the ground, close to the edge so we could see the sea below us. I wandered through the garden curious as to what I would find.

I found the rabbits, about twenty of them, each one in a single cage barely bigger than a shoebox. I felt awful for them, but then I saw the babies. Three fluffy spring bunnies were huddled together in a slightly bigger cage with their mother.
Without hesitation I opened the cage and took the babies out. I carried them over to the blanket and we played with them while we ate.

Suddenly from one of the gardens below us there was a terrible shrieking sound. We forgot about the bunnies and peered over the edge to see what the noise was. Below us there were two men in rubber boots and aprons killing and bleeding a pig.
"Oh no!" exclaimed Lara in disgust, "do they have to do that while we are eating?"

As the pig squealed the floor became sticky with blood and we sat on our picnic blanket feeling sick, the mood for barbequed ribs and ham sandwiches had passed.
Suddenly we remembered the baby rabbits, where had they got to? We searched around for about an hour but they had taken the chance of freedom and hopped away to a better life.


  1. Yes, beware of the tortoise because it may come after you! We all know that those little critters are evil predators that chase birds and girls and what not!

  2. when I was about 13, I went with my best friend to a barbecue at this country club he belonged to. on arrival, we witnessed the pig who was to be barbecued being slaughtered. the poor bugger screamed so much, I felt terrible. I just ate onion salad sandwiches for lunch.

  3. Aside from the rabbits in cages and the whole pig slaughtering debacle, it looks like an otherwise picturesque picnic site!!

  4. One year in Anguilla my aunt killed a chicken for dinner right in front of me. I had tuna from a can that night and all my relatives thought I was weird. At the time I was living in D.C. and wasn't spending a lot of time on farms. I forgot chickens and goats were not pets.

    Anyway, I do think it's good for us to know where our food comes from.

  5. I was a vegetarian for years & I think it was mostly cause my dad & his friends used to hunt wild rabbits & wild pigs & they used to take us along for the ride. So I witnessed many killing. Very sad & disturbing

    Love Nonna's farm, very pretty on the mountain edge.

  6. lovely post!
    And thanks for commenting on mine.

  7. i would have felt the same about the bunnies.
    positano sounds like a very beautiful and complex place {but which place is not complex, right?}.
    love your blog.


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