Sunday, April 22, 2018
Travel

Enjoy the felines, ancient ruins at Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary in Rome

ROME

We had to be in the right spot. The GPS said so.

But as my daughters and I scanned the square after walking for what seemed like a really long time in temperatures in the upper 80s, there were no obvious signs of Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, a shelter and cat colony.

Exasperation set in, with defeat a close step behind.

As we approached a railing that surrounded vestiges of ancient Rome, both to take in some history and to prop ourselves up, we saw them.

One sauntered around the ruins, pausing to survey his domain.

A second lounged on what likely was a temple.

A third quickly shot to the opposite side of the archaeological site.

We definitely were in the right spot.

Forging ahead, we circled the perimeter in search of the shelter. More than halfway around, we were greeted by a black cat that clearly liked people, or more specifically people's hands, judging from the purrs after the petting began.

Just a few feet away, we spotted a "Welcome" sign directing us down the stairs. (It wasn't easily visible from the other side of the square.)

I had read about Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary some years ago and vowed to visit on this trip, especially since I had my daughters with me.

More than 140 cats call Largo di Torre Argentina, the square, and the Area Sacra, the site of ruins that date to the fourth century B.C., home. Roman temples once stood here, and it's where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

The Associazione Culturale Colonia Felina di Torre Argentina works to feed, vaccinate and spay or neuter stray cats at Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary (one of more than 400 feline colonies in Rome) and take care of the ones that need extra TLC. (Some are blind. Some are deaf. Some have other medical conditions.) The healthy cats are free to go where they want, both inside the shelter and among the ruins. The disabled cats are kept indoors for their safety.

We interacted with a handful of cats in the main room, which also serves as the gift shop, and then asked if we could meet the "disabled" cats. A volunteer — one of roughly 15 who work in the shelter — happily led us to their room. I'm not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn't a sad place. The cats seemed well loved and content. The volunteer knew all their names and stories and shared them with us in English. There were plenty of cat playthings.

With our feline fix satisfied in about 30 minutes, we decided to peruse the souvenirs. We settled on a canvas bag for 12 euros. (Credit cards are accepted, and I asked them to ring up the charge for several euros more, since donations are key to the operation's success.)

Outside, my daughters made fast friends with a black cat that they said would be all over me the minute I sat down. They were right. The cat was so friendly, lying in my lap and nudging my hand for constant attention, it was hard to leave. I encouraged a man nearby to take my place. (He did, and the cat was no less affectionate.)

It was nice to spend time with true locals (the cats and the volunteers), away from the hordes of visitors that flock to Rome's big tourist attractions.

I may virtually adopt one of the cats or simply make a donation, since the organization relies on the kindness of others. ("Our vets are saints," Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary volunteer Silvia Zerenghi wrote in an email.)

It's easy to get lost in Rome, but I've learned my way now. It helps that the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary shelter is right off Via Florida.

Contact Dawn Cate at [email protected]

     
 
Comments
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

Associated PressLAYA, BhutanPrayer flags whip in the wind, flying across steep valleys and roads. Buddhist temples, stupa shrines and majestic fortresses called zhongs dot the landscape. Giant water-powered prayer wheels spin from tumbling falls. Far...
Published: 04/20/18
On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

ORLANDO — When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 20 years ago, it was light on thrills and heavy on conservation. On April 22, 1998, Earth Day, the Orlando park had a single thrill ride, Countdown to Extinction, and a handful of shows like ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Universal to fill 3,000 jobs as ‘Fast & Furious’ ride, new hotels race to open

Universal to fill 3,000 jobs as ‘Fast & Furious’ ride, new hotels race to open

Universal Orlando Resort has finally given a hint about the opening of the new Fast & Furious – Supercharged attraction coming some time in May. And the company is looking for more than 3,000 new workers as it opens new attractions and hotels this s...
Published: 04/13/18
Universal offers a four-pack of tickets for $42 a day

Universal offers a four-pack of tickets for $42 a day

For Floridians looking to get away for the weekend and experience a little bit of movie magic, Universal Studios will be offering a discount on a four-pack of tickets from now until April 30.Florida residents can take advantage of an exclusive offer ...
Published: 04/11/18
Medieval #TimesUp? Florida attraction announces its first queen

Medieval #TimesUp? Florida attraction announces its first queen

Medieval Times in Orlando has announced some big changes.
Published: 04/11/18
Off the map in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a unique ecotour company

Off the map in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a unique ecotour company

CITY OF OAXACA, MexicoTourism to Mexico is a mixed bag, as high-end resorts abut areas of extreme poverty. Throw in recent political tensions around the border and news about drug-related violence, and Americans have many reasons to steer clear. But ...
Published: 04/11/18
A trip to lovely Joshua Tree National Park transports visitors to another world

A trip to lovely Joshua Tree National Park transports visitors to another world

From my perch at the peak of Ryan Mountain, 5,457 feet above sea level, a vast and undeveloped landscape stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. It was dotted with rock piles that looked quizzically out of place from above, curious ...
Updated one month ago
A glow-in-the-dark waterslide is coming to Tampa Bay

A glow-in-the-dark waterslide is coming to Tampa Bay

If you’ve ever wanted to dive down a giant waterslide in the pitch black of night while splashing round in neon glow-in-the-dark water, head to Lakeland on June 30.That’s when the Blacklight Slide will be set up at the Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, and the...
Updated one month ago
Universal offers buy one, get one free deal on Halloween Horror Nights

Universal offers buy one, get one free deal on Halloween Horror Nights

Universal has gotten an extra early jump on Halloween season, announcing the dates for 2018’s Halloween Horror Nights as well as a limited-time ticket deal of $77.99 that gets you into the scare zones on a second night for free. The theme park will o...
Updated one month ago