Cercasi Tartaruga – Looking for a tortoise

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tartarugaI was very tempted to write as the title of this short article – “Wanted Tortoise”, which would have given it even more of a strange twist but let’s just settle for “looking for a tortoise”

Either way, it was a strange sign that hung outside one of the local fruit and vegetable stores in Barga Giardino this afternoon.

One or two people stopped outside and wondered out loud what it could mean but their curiosity was not enough to make them go in and find out.

Barganews, of course needed to know, so in we went.

As you can hear in the short interview below (in Italiano) the sign was put up to help a friend who had recently lost his tortoise due to old age (apparently the tortoise was over 40 years old) and was looking for another to take its place.

Just before the interview was recorded, one customer in the shop were overheard to ask if the sign meant that there would shortly be tortoise soup for sale …. wry smiles all round.


Although the word “tortoise” is used by biologists in reference to the family Testudinidae only, in colloquial usage, it is often used to describe many land-dwelling Testudines. The inclusiveness of the term depends on the variety of English being used.

British English normally describes these reptiles as “tortoises” if they live on land.
American English tends to use the word “tortoise” for land-dwelling species, including members of Testudinidae, as well as other species, such as box tortoises, though use of “turtle” for all chelonians is as common.
Australian English uses “tortoise” for terrestrial species, including semiaquatic species that live near ponds and streams. Traditionally, a “tortoise” has feet (including webbed feet) while a “turtle” has flippers.


The number of concentric rings on the carapace, much like the cross-section of a tree, can sometimes give a clue to how old the animal is, but, since the growth depends highly on the accessibility of food and water, a tortoise that has access to plenty of forage (or is regularly fed by its owner) with no seasonal variation will have no noticeable rings. Moreover, some tortoises grow more than one ring per season and in some others, due to wear, some rings are no longer visible.

Tortoises generally have lifespans comparable with those of human beings, and some individuals are known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China.

The oldest tortoise ever recorded, and one of the oldest individual animals ever recorded, was Tu’i Malila, which was presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook shortly after its birth in 1777.

Tu’i Malila remained in the care of the Tongan royal family until its death by natural causes on May 19, 1965, at the age of 188. – source – Wikipedia

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