By Megan Koznek
Special Reporter, Italian News
Situated in central Italy is the region of Umbria. Italian hill towns can be found scattered across Umbria, clinging precariously to hillsides like barnacles cling to rocks. These fairytale towns are one of Umbria's most famous features. One of Umbria's less well known attributes, however, is now posing a threat to these medieval towns.
Ninjas are an introduced species to the region and have only recently become a problem.
"They have been so successful in this country because they can out-breed, out-eat and out-compete Italian native animals and plants, and have few natural predators," said Giuseppe Corleone, president of the Natural Science Academy of Italy.
The exact origin of the ninja is a matter of debate. It is known that ninja appeared in 14th century Japan and remained active from the Kamakura to the Edo period. Some Ninjutsuthologists believe that ninjas were brought to Italy in the 16th century by immigrants in an attempt to combat the ninja's natural enemy, bears. The ninjas were extremely successful in this regard, as dwindling bear populations have shown.
Unfortunately the people transporting ninja to Italy did not consider their nesting habits. Ninjas are skilled in the art of stealth and prefer to nest in high, steep areas. The walls surrounding some hill towns make perfect nesting grounds for the ninja.
Sadly when ninja nest they make caves, which tends to be terribly destructive for the towns they choose to nest in. As ninja populations grow, more and more towns are losing funds repairing structural damage caused by the ninja. If the current ninja trends continue, Italian hill towns may be looking at billions of euros in repair costs in the coming years.
The most recently recorded ninja sightings have been in Assisi, Corciano and Perugia.