This post was triggered by one of the many great signs reader Gail sent to me from Lucca, Italy while she and her husband and Puccini, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, were living there this spring:
It reminded her to tell me about the “Italian Ministry of Tourism sponsored initiative (complete with website) ‘Turisti a 4 zampe’ or ‘4 Legged Tourists.'” Among other things, they’ve produced a couple of short videos encouraging Italian dog owners to take their pets with them “on vacation, and also to discourage the unfortunate practice of abandoning pets (most cruelly on major highways) before leaving. The 1st commercial deals with that issue head on by showing the dog pushing its owner out of the car! The dog watching the commercial on TV then says in voice-over, ‘I never would have done such a thing, we go on vacation together.'”
Here’s the second commercial Gail sent, also short, and also completely wonderful. As she says, while they’re both in Italian, neither one needs to be translated. (She’s right, too, that it’s odd that the initiative’s catch-phrase is “Welcome,” rather than “Benvenuto”!)
The sticker is available on the website Gail mentioned, which turns out to be a useful resource for people living in or visiting Italy with a pet dog. The site is in Italian, and I haven’t found a button that turns it into English, so you’ll have to soldier along with Google Translate. The search box in the upper right corner requires you to know at least the region you’re interested in (and to search for options in a particular city, you’ll also need to know the province it’s located in).
The results are still limited — I have to believe there are more than seven agriturismos in the province of Siena that accept small dogs — but it’s a place to start, and the list of options includes not only agriturismos but also hotels, B&Bs, rentals, historic homes, campgrounds, all kinds of eateries, beaches, and parks. And please note that the results are helpful for owners of pets other than dogs, including cats, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, turtles, birds, and horses. They’ve also distinguished between small, medium, and large dogs. The only thing missing is an option to enter multiple pets.
Aside from the search box, be sure to click on the “Guida pratica al viaggio” (“Practical travel guide”) box in the lower right corner, which takes you to a menu of things you’ll want to read about, including (there are others, but these are particularly useful) “Prima di Partire” (preparing for a trip with your pet to Italy or elsewhere); “In treno, auto, aereo, nave e bus” (traveling by train, car, etc.); “La legge e il buonsenso” (laws and regulations pertaining to pet travel); and “A spasso con Fido e Micia” (an overview of where pets are, or should be, welcome in Italy — a valuable bonus was learning that while the default dog name is “Fido” for Italians, just as it is for us, the default cat name is “Micia” rather than “Fluffy”).
Thanks again to Gail for pointing me towards this resource! Italy isn’t perfect — after all, the website wouldn’t be needed if there weren’t a pet abandonment problem — but you have to love how hard the country is trying to educate its people and visitors about pet travel. As Gail says, “it’s true that Italy is a great place to bring your dog on vacation!”