cafe facade

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A real cat celebrity of Venice Nini 

Nini lived in the late 19th century and belonged to the owner of Caffe dei Frari. He held court in the cafe but was also a roaming neighbourhood cat who spent time mousing in the Frari church across the canal and in the nearby area. 

For some reason, Nini became famous, and visitors to Venice stopped by to meet and pay homage to him. He had his own guest book in the cafe, and among the many famous people who signed Nini’s book were the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the king and queen of Italy, the czar of Russia, and even Pope Leo XIII. When Nini died of old age in 1894, there was a wake honouring him, with many tributes to “a gentleman, white of fur, affable with great and small.”

The cafe is still open today, but evidently, Nini’s guestbook was sold and is now lost. There is a circa-1932 painting of Nini on the cafe facade which shows the cat reclining with his book and a cup of coffee.