Vicenza, the Cat eaters

 This old and popular urban legend is well know from north to south of Italy.

'Vicentini Magnagatti', Vicentinians cat eaters. But why? And when this legend started?

"Venexiani gran signori, padovani gran dotori, visentini magna gati, veronesi tuti mati, trevisani pan e tripe, rovigoti baco e pipe. E belun? Ti belun, non ti vol nesun".“

"People from Venice are rich (historically true, due to Venice's role in maritime commerce), people from Padua are learned (historic university), people from Vicenza eat cats (city full of cats), people from Verona are crazy (some actually are), people from Treviso eat bread and tripe, people from Rovigo drink and smoke. And what about Belluno? Nobody wants them"
It's a list of cities in the Veneto region, each paired with a few words and stereotypes. 

Cat meat has never been a traditional food in Vicenza. This legend is based during the era of the Black Death, when the inhabitants of Vicenza imported many cats to try to eliminate the rats that spread the disease.

The origin is very uncertain, but it comes from 1698. Vicenza was dirty, small and crowded; it was 
a perfect habitat for rats. On that period people were convict that the plague were caused by rodents.

The inhabitants believed that the solution was to import as many cats in the city as possible so the cats would eat the rats and they would be safe from the plague. 

That idea did not worked well and Vicenza was infested with kitties and there was just not enough crazy cat ladies to feed them. So from there comes a legend that some chefs use cats in their cooking because the city was just full of cats.
Little Vicentinian girl having a snack

Don’t worry: the real typical dish from Vicenza is Polenta and Baccalà. This is just an urban legend and your cats are safe in Vicenza.