This is a guest post by Helen Asquine Fazio, the blogger behind Travels with My Dog: Observations on the Global Scene. Helen is a writer and a Shih Tzu specialist and Raja is a traveler and a Shih Tzu himself. Helen’s business travels give Raja lots of opportunities for adventures far, far away. Their blog gives practical and fun advice about pet travel destinations near and far.
If you want to have fun with your dog in Italy, take him to Rome. Why?
Rome is a perfect city plan for urban dog visitors:
First, piazzas stop the momentum of the streets and many small parks and fountains refresh and invite visitors to linger. Walking a dog in Rome is not a linear activity, but an extended meander from spot to spot to browse and sniff, people watch and relax. There is always a cool fountain behind a low wall or a flight of shady steps to sit on if you want to rest your feet and paws. Public water fountains are everywhere and, while we always suggest bottled water for dogs when traveling, the public water is potable and cool. Raja recommends the shallow Baraccia Fountain to dip hot paws.
Second: Rome’s cafes always welcome your dog to sit with you while you have a chic meal alfresco- and many restaurants allow your dog inside too. Winter never becomes too cold in Rome and all cafes keep patrons warm in cooler weather with heat lamps, so outside dining is always comfortable for you and your pup. And yes, all cafés will cook up something for your dog. Why not? Raja likes pasta, so he’s very easy to please. And his favorite piazza is the Piazza Navona. You get Bernini, pasta and a heat lamp all at once!
Third: Hadrian’s Column, the Trevi Fountain, the Via Veneto, the Spanish Steps and so very many more antiquities and treasured landmarks are close up and personal. You dog can visit them all with you without any admission tickets or special permissions. Museum walls don’t separate you from Raphael, Bernini, and Michelangelo when you go for a walk in Rome. Raja loves to hang around the Piazza San Pietro, the great circular atrium of the Vatican City. And he’s welcome there too.
Fourth: Dogs have always lived in Rome. The famous Lupo Italiano is an Italian dog/wolf hybrid supposedly created in 1966, but sculptures in the Vatican Museum suggest the Lupo is an older cross. An entire room of the Vatican museum is filled with antique sculptures of pet dogs. The Lupo and other large dogs are Roman favorites. In early evening, the dogs of Rome come out strolling, often off leash. Do they walk in traffic, no of course not. The dogs of Rome know better. Rome’s streets are free of trash, but gritty as in any big city, so a small dog does best being carried through the dusty parts.
Fifth: Romans do not appear to get overly excited about dogs. Most hotels welcome them as a matter of course. And, while Romans don’t coo over your dog the way the French and the New Yorkers do, they accept your dog as your companion in shops and on subways without fuss or comment. But just start up a conversation and you will discover that many cafés have a hard working dog in the kitchen making sure everything comes out on time and, with very little provocation, many Romans will show you their dogs’ photos on their cell phones.
Raja agrees that Rome’s one of the best cities for dog visitors in the world. He’s hoping to get back there next spring and maybe he’ll see you there too!