The Italian swallow is a lovely bird with a marvellous character. It has the wisdom to avoid humans and shares few traits with pigeons, crows or seagulls. The swallow spends its winters in unknown southern climes and returns to Italy in mid-spring. It nests in overhanging eaves where it spends much of the day resting and feeding its young.
You’ll spot swallows darting in the sky above in small groups that dive about like dogfighting spitfires. They are fun to watch and begin roller coasting through the air every day at the same hour. It’s not an hour dictated by a watch but an hour governed by nature, when light changes hue, evening has not arrived and time appears to stand still. That’s when the swallow comes out to play.
The swallow is the lead actor of long summer afternoons and an integral part of the Italian landscape from Venice to Rome and seaside towns like Alghero in Northwestern Sardinia. There it flies above bell tower and rooftops alternating rapid flapping with long zigzagging glides while down below locals and tourists stroll unaware along uniquely cobbled streets. Watching swallows is a treat and just as great a thrill as the Sistine Chapel or Coliseum. It’s like attending a circus air show without a ticket where you always get the best seat.