The story of the female wolf that raised Romulus and Remus who went on the become the founders of Rome is well known. Less well known is the association of wolves with the city of Siena in Tuscany. Legend has it that Senius, the son of Remus, founded Siena. Whatever the veracity of the legend, there is no doubting the extent to which the wolf myth influences the city. Images of the wolf suckling their founder's father and uncle are to be found all over the city - as statues raised on pillars in the squares, integrated into iron-work in chapels, and as plasterwork on walls. Other images of wolves are to be found on water fountains and protruding from the tower of the Torre del Mangia. "Lupa", or the she-wolf, is the name of one of the 17 sections of the city that compete against each other in the annual horse race, the Palio di Siena, which takes place in the central Piazza del Campo. Lupa have not won since 1989, so one can only wish them luck. Given the present controversies over wolf conservation in many countries it is refreshing to see so much positive imagery related to this species.
Text and photos: John Linnell