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StrangeSights: A “Chicago rat hole”; free vintage bus rides in Croatia; and, dog DNA detectives in Italy…

DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life…


Cheese and Cuban cigars; a shrine set up at ‘Chicago Rat Hole’. PICTURE: Screenshot via Reuters TV


A rodent-shaped hole on a quiet, Chicago street is quickly gaining attention across the globe. “I put a picture of it on Twitter, and it has since become an international sensation,” said Winslow Dumaine.  The Chicago-based artist and comedian is referring to his 6th January, 2024 post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. The post, which has been viewed over five million times, has brought countless people to Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighbourhood to see the ‘Chicago Rat Hole’ for themselves. Some are even traveling thousands of miles to admire the rodent-shaped sidewalk indentation. “I wanted to come see Chicago, and we had an itinerary of things to do and very high on the list was seeing the ‘Chicago Rat Hole,’ said California native Chandler Condell. “I am honored to be here.” Feet away from the rat hole, a miniature memorial is growing fast. Visitors have been placing offerings of all kinds, from cheese and coins to Cuban cigars and condoms beside a picture of a rat that reads, “In Memory of Chimley”. “Finally, people are gathering for things that, you know, matter and make a difference,” said Noa Riley. Riley brought her girlfriend, who is visiting from New Orleans, by to see the ‘Chicago Rat Hole’.  “We’re all getting together, who knew it took a rat hole to get Chicago to come together,” added Riley. – Reuters TV



The vintage bus in the city of Split. PICTURE: Screenshot via Reuters TV


Croatian vintage car enthusiast Josip Matulic turns weekends into retro adventures offering free rides on an old bus from 1981 around the coastal city of Split. “There are many reactions,” he said. “Some immediately take out their cell phones and record, while others watch me pass by in amazement. Older people get off the station thinking that it’s Promet city bus line, and then they get angry when I don’t stop at their station.” Matulic doesn’t advertise his services, he simply meets passengers at bus stops. “It certainly brings back memories of elementary school in the 7th and 8th grades,” said bus passenger Duje Borovic. “My most difficult period where I ditched schools sometimes. It reminds me of journeys to school. In the summertime, when it was hot, it would be a hundred times hotter. In winter, it was freezing inside. Now I see that there are newer seats inside, they used to be wooden and it was a phenomenal time and it makes me nostalgic. I’m not very old, but it evokes nostalgia.” – Reuters TV



A woman walks with her dog in downtown Rome, Italy, on 11th December, 2017. PICTURE: Reuters/Max Rossi/File photo


• An Italian province is turning to DNA tests to tackle the scourge of dog mess on the streets. Once a dog DNA registration database is up and running, street cleaners and health officials in Bolzano will be able to collect abandoned poop, have it genetically tested and then trace the owners who will face fines €50 to €500. Any owner who refuses the DNA profiling for their dog will face fines of €292 to €1,048. The provincial government covering Bolzano city and surrounding towns in the picturesque Dolomites region is creating the database for the almost 40,000 dogs in the area, veterinary department director Paolo Zambotto said. About 10,000 have already been registered. “Bolzano receives a few hundred complaints a year from citizens about improper management of public land. More than half are for dogs,” he told Reuters. “Law enforcement could only catch three or four of them because they have to go there and set up some kind of stakeout.” DNA registration will become compulsory from around late March. Owners will be expected to have blood tests for their dogs, in municipal dog shelters or vet clinics, at a cost ranging from 65 to over 100 euros. He did not give an estimated cost for the project, with the detection and administration expenses expect to be covered from the fines.  Bolzano, a mountainous German-speaking province near Austria, has wide autonomy in making its rules. Zambotto said other Italian cities had been in touch to potentially replicate the law. Tourists and non-residents are exempted from the regulation. – ALESSANDRO PARODI, Rome, Italy/Reuters



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