Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 15, 2015

Attenti al Cane

This post is a brief addendum to our previous article about Bordighera, Italy. We walked through a lot of residential areas, something one doesn’t do so often in large cities one visits. We started noticing a common feature of many of the gates and fences along Bordighera’s tree-lined streets. They were signs similar in message to this one:

Attenti Cane Brad Nixon 6691 (640x493)

Yes, that’s Italian for “Beware of Dog.”

What was interesting was that they almost always had images, not just words: perhaps a hallmark of the centuries of Italian tradition in the decorative arts. Here’s one that’s particularly compelling, in color:

Attenti Cane Brad Nixon 6695 (640x480)

Clearly that little dude means business.

I encountered one with an addendum that’s similar to many signs in the U.S.:

Attenti Cane Brad Nixon 6728 (640x480)

The inclusion of a caution about the gun-wielding owner — the padrone — in a civilized burg like Bordighera took me aback. I’m accustomed to thinking that only American households are heavily armed.

My favorite — on several levels — was this ceramic tile on the pillar of an entrance gate.

Cave Canem Brad Nixon 6670 (640x480)

Students of Roman art and history or — in my case — Latin II (thank you, Miss Corwin), will recognize that image and its message as a reproduction of a famous mosaic from Pompeii. Even in that long-ago time, the admonition was exactly the same; cave canem means “Beware of dog” in Latin, with a Latin word still in common use in caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware,” while the Latin word for dog persists in Italian as well as words like our “canine.”

Here’s the original mosaic from Pompeii:

_84508818_pompeiidogepa (640x426)

The classical touch. Admirable.

I’d be glad to hear from readers in other countries. Is this a common thing in France, Australia, Great Britain, Peru?

The sign photographs in this post and select images from other Under Western Skies posts are available on Shutterstock.com. Click on the linked photos, or CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2015, 2017

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