Exterminator talks bugs in Rome

Our final destination on our tour of Italy was Rome. Our Italian adventure was in its closing days, with so much to see and pests to discover.

Keep in mind that Italy’s capital is more than 2,500 years old. That’s a lot of cockroaches and other vermin in, of course, a historical perspective. As our train neared Rome, visions of large, urban problems arose.

First to catch my eye were graffiti-covered walls, surrounded by piles of trash, long overdue for removal. The train was moving quite rapidly, but I was still able to keep a watchful eye for rats. The New York City subway system gave me good training for this.

As we checked into our hotel, my first duty was the bedbug inspection. Fortunately, as with all accommodations on this vacation, I gave our room a tentative thumbs up. As cramped as we were, at least we didn’t need to share the space with any unwanted and unpaying guests.

As impressed as I was with commercial kitchen sanitation along our travels, the few kitchens I was able to see in Rome left much to be desired. I would have preferred that the doors remained closed.

Our first full day was quite exciting, with an open-topped tour bus. We were at the doorsteps of the world’s most famous sites: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, Circus Maximus. One was more spectacular than the next. And all pest free, but admittedly, only given a passing glance.

The next day we spent at the Vatican. While I should have been more forgiving, given the surroundings, I just couldn’t let up on my pest sightings. I finally discovered someone was taking action against the pigeons that we had seen in so many locations.

In their quest to preserve priceless buildings and artifacts, not to mention for the health and safety of the visitors and staff, Vatican officials were waging an all-out defense. The pigeons finally met their higher match. Numerous large expanses of open courtyards were completely draped over with almost invisible bird netting. Not to detract from the ambiance or experience, this control method was utilized throughout the compound.

Countless windows, left open continually for ventilation, were covered with netting, as were doorways, no longer used for passage.

In addition, bird spikes were visible atop hundreds of columns and parapets. These stainless steel points are installed to break pigeons of their roosting habits, moving them elsewhere.

These spikes are very effective against large birds. Smaller birds, like robins and sparrows, are oblivious to these points, as they can roost between them.

All good things must come to an end. With our departure, I felt a rush of mixed feelings. Your mind tries to catalog all of the experiences, highlights and disappointments — all new entries to add into your life’s bucket list.

And in the end, there’s always one constant: my relentless search for bugs. No matter how hard I try not to think about them, I always lose. Arrivederci!