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Crocodile watching along the Mincio


Believe it or not, along the banks of the Italian river Mincio it is possible to watch a crocodile…

Just go to the Sanctuary of the Saint Mary in the hamlet of Grazie near Mantova, look up at the ceiling of the church and let yourself be surprised by the rather unusual confrontation with a crocodile hanging on chains. 

Nobody knows for sure why, but two theories are probably the closest to the truth.

In Christian times crocodiles were considered personifications of the devil and the remains of stuffed crocodiles were hung in the medieval churches as votive offering and acted as a warning against the human inclination to sin. According to local history the crocodile in Grazie might have been captured in the vicinity of the church or came from a zoo. All of this would have happened in the XVth or XVIth century. 

Another theory points to the possibility the crododile might have been the symbol of pharmacy as an alternative of the well-known snake, since the monks were running a hospital next to the sanctuary.


The Mincio from Lake Garda to river Po