The Strays of Rome and Pompeii [gallery]

When I visited Italy in March 2011, one of the wonderful things I noticed is that the strays are well cared for, especially in ruin areas, where they run free and happy. It only makes sense that I found these refuges, being an animal lover myself.


The first of these areas I visited was Largo di Torre Argentina, or the Area Sacra. These stray cats, under the protection of Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, are in essence protectors for the ruins and the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by the senators and Marcus Brutus, in the Curia of the Theatre of Pompey.


There are over 250 cats under the protection of the volunteers of these ruins; they feed and care for them, providing medical care when necessary and refuge from the streets. Government officials and archaeologist groups have tried to shut down this sanctuary over the years; so far attempts to oust the volunteers and the cats have failed. This is a very popular tourist destination because of the cats.


Another cat refuge area lies within the Protestant Cemetery in Testaccio, a few miles away from Largo di Torre Argentina.


These stray cats, referred to as “The Guardians of the Departed”, live within the confines of the cemetery. These cats watch over the graves of beloved writers John Keats and Percy Shelley, in addition to thousands of others buried within this beautiful resting place.


These cats are also referred to as the Cats of the Pyramid, or I Gatti della PiramideThey are given refuge, medication, food and are sterilized to prevent adding to the already teeming population of strays in Rome. Volunteers can help these cats through the donation boxes located around the cemetery; of course I dropped a few one and two Euro coins in the boxes when I visited. I Gatti della Piramide holds various fundraising and adoption events throughout the year.


I could have stayed all day with these lovable felines; they made me miss my two fur-babies at home back in the USA.


When I made my trip to Pompeii, I met the Dogs of Pompeii. Dogs were very much a part of Pompeian life, as witnessed by the famous mosaic, Cave Canem, which translates from Latin to “Beware of the Dog”. Dogs are still a big part of the landscape in Pompeii, and you can even take a piece of Pompeii home with you and adopt one of these strays! The (C)ave Canem Project makes this happen. They care for, feed and strive to get every single stray in Pompeii and safe and loving home.


I hope you enjoy these photos of the cats of Rome and the dogs of Pompeii.