The Seigneur de Villamont left his home in the Duchy of Brittany in June 1588, travelled in Italy and embarked at Venice on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He visited Cyprus on the voyage to Jaffa, and again on his way from Tripoli to Damietta in 1598. Outside Limassol, he visited the monastery of S. Nicolas.
"And so, conversing together we arrived at the abbey of S. Nicholas. It is close to the sea, and remains almost whole, having received no injury from the Turks when they took Cyprus from the Venetians in 1570. But they slew or drove away the monks of S. Basil who occupied it, nor have they from that time forth allowed anyone to dwell there, so bitterly do they hate the Christian faith. My companion told me that the said monks kept a number of cats on purpose to catch the snakes, which are found all about the plain in greater numbers than in any other part of the island.
These snakes are black and white, at least seven feet long, and thick as a man's leg so that I could scarcely believe that a cat could overcome so big a beast, or that they would have the patience to go to hunt them, and not to return until the bell rang for mid-day, and as soon as they had dined to resume their chase until evening, if it were not that the monk swore that he had seen it. His story was confirmed later by other persons of honour who had seen the same. The abbey is left deserted, and the oats are dead for want of food, but their memory lives in the name Cape delle Gatte, the Cape of Cats. Close to the abbey and the Cape is a large fishery, round, and nearly two leagues, or six Italian miles in circuit. There is one little entrance by which the seawater and the fish enter. To take the fish they shut this entrance, and open it again to admit others.
The Grand Signer gets six thousand ducats yearly from the farmers, who are obliged by ancient usage to give to the abbey all the fish they catch on the day and night of S. Nicolas' feast, or they would not take a single fish all the year through. But now that the abbey is abandoned the farmers pay this due to the church of the Greeks. I must not forget to say that in August the villagers around Cape delle Gatte catch a great number of falcons. They have to do this at their own cost, and as soon as they catch one, under pain of death they are obliged to take it to the Pasha, and the Pasha must send it to the Grand Signer. They rear a number of pigeons to lure the falcons, which get entangled in the nets. It is true that the Pasha pays them for each falcon one or two ducats, and besides this, they are exempt from all dues and taxes, and live unmolested in their houses and lands."
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