The Great Valletta Pigeon Conundrum: A Feathery Fiasco

The Infamous Pigeon of St. John’s Co-Cathedral

In the heart of Valletta, where tourists flood the streets like ġbejniet in a summer festa, there emerged a tale so plumed with absurdity it could only occur in the cradle of the Mediterranean. It involved one determined pigeon, a humorous clash of city dwellers and, of course, the unintended consequences of a well-meaning council initiative.

Meet the Villian: Piccione il-Kbir

Our story revolves around Piccione il-Kbir, a pigeon drenched in urban legend. Believed to be the descendant of the carrier pigeons used by the Knights of Malta, this particular bird had grown notorious for its escapades, much to the chagrin of the locals. Rumor had it, Piccione was part bird, part spirit, sent by the ghosts from Mdina to haunt the capital for entertainment.

The Plot Takes Flight

One sunny day, as the residents of Valletta munched on their ħobż biż-żejt at lunch, a collective annoyance was brewing. The city council, in its infinite wisdom, had introduced a ‘Pigeon Appreciation’ scheme in an effort to tighten the relationship between human and bird. They argued, with birdfeed in hand no less, that these winged compatriots deserved our respect and perhaps a feature in the upcoming Independence Day festivities. However, the council’s plan had an unexpected result: a feast for Piccione il-Kbir.

The Unintended Invitation

The Pigeon Appreciation Day might as well have been called ‘Piccione il-Kbir’s Private Banquet’. As the citizens scattered birdseed, our feathered anti-hero took Valletta and the birdfeed by storm, in cahoots with his fluttering entourage. The spectacle turned the Upper Barrakka Gardens into a scene that resembled Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, but with more laughter and frantic waving of arms than terror.

Lured to Gozo

The council, now on the backfoot, decided to take advice from a local hunter named Gesù, an oddly poetic name for a man who’d rather set a trap than attend mass. Gesù hatched a plan so curious, it might just work, he said, all while stroking his moustache like a Bond villain. The idea was to use a grand trap, baited with a Gozitan feast: rabbit stew, pastizzi, and some ftira, to lure Piccione away from Valletta and onto the ferry to Gozo.

Gesù’s Overlooked Detail

Efforts to relocate Piccione il-Kbir to Gozo were as successful as a beach day in a thunderstorm. You see, they overlooked one crucial detail: pigeons… can fly. As the ferry set sail, Piccione and his league of winged rascals simply took off, circled above the amused onlookers, and glided back towards the city as if to say

“Uwejja, better luck next time, humans.”

The Turn of Events: Piccione, The Unlikely Hero

As Piccione reclaimed his reign over Valletta, an unexpected twist unfolded. A band of overly enthusiastic tourists had become lost in the Mdina dungeons during a poorly judged game of hide and seek. Mela, this was no job for mere mortals. In flew Piccione il-Kbir, guiding the tourists out with his supernatural pigeon instinct, and earning himself the city’s grudging admiration.

A Mixed Blessing

The Valletta council, after days of head-scratching, issued a statement:

“In light of Piccione il-Kbir’s heroism, we’ll be erecting a statue in his honor at the entrance of St. John’s Co-Cathedral. May Piccione’s legacy be a reminder that every problem has an unconventional solution—sometimes with wings.”

A Flight to Remember

And so, the story of Piccione il-Kbir became a bizarre footnote in Maltese folklore. Locals and tourists alike shared stories of the cheeky bird, some claiming to have seen him perched atop the Triton Fountain giving ‘blessings’ to unsuspecting passersby. As for the Pigeon Appreciation day? It was quietly replaced with a more grounded celebration: The Valletta Cat Cuddle Day, but that, dear readers, is a yarn for another time.

Interactive Afterfeathers

Have you had a run-in with the legendary Piccione il-Kbir? Share your feathery tales with us, using the hashtag #PiccioneHero or #VallettaFeathers on social media. We’ll feature the best picks in our next issue!