The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome

As well as the famous ruins of the Colosseum and Forum in Rome, you can also find other archaeological sites with fascinating histories. And some have a little something extra too…

Walking up to Largo di Torre Argentina, a square set just below street level in central Rome, your first thought might be that they’re some pretty impressive ruins. And in fact, a big part of their intrigue comes with the fact that Julius Caeser himself was allegedly assassinated here.

And as you look out across the square, something darts across the corner of your eye. Then another one, and another one…even though they’re hard to spot at first, once you’ve seen one of the cats that hang out here, you’ll end up noticing more and more. Sitting in the sun and stretching out, or skulking amongst the ruins – they’re pretty sneaky, and you can guarantee there’s even more hidden away within the stones and greenery.

Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy (Image: Tim Adams via Flickr)Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy (Image: Tim Adams via Flickr)Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy (Image: Tim Adams via Flickr)

After the site was excavated in the 1920s, the city’s stray cats began moving in. Rome actually has a law that prohibits killing homeless cats, and the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, which opened in 1994, looks after homeless kitties with nowhere else to go. Around 250 cats live at the sanctuary, looked after seven days a week, year-round, by feline-loving volunteers.

At the corner of the ruins, there’s a small staircase that heads down to the lower level. It’s one of those things that if you aren’t looking for it, you might not notice. But believe me, it’s worth your attention – as it leads down to the sanctuary itself. Visitors can go inside the small building and meet even more cats who wander the inside space freely. We were greeted by a rather grumpy looking (feline) chap who seemed to have taken it upon himself to be the door guard…

As well as the cats that walk around the room, coming and going into the grounds as they please, there’s also a special room for ill or disabled cats. This section’s semi-restricted, but in small groups, visitors can usually go and give these kitties some love too.

If you’re a cat lover visiting Rome, the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is an absolute must visit – and you can support their work while you’re there by donating, buying from their shop or adopting a cat (distance adoption, or even real adoption…!). Even if you’re not a major cat person, the whole concept around Largo di Torre Argentina is super cool, and worth checking out for sure.

Images: Tim Adams via Flickr (yeahh, my camera died…)

  • This sounds like the most adorable place!xx

    Lucy |

  • How did I miss this when I went to Rome?! So cute! I love that the kitty cats can happily prowl where they please but they’re still being fed and cared for, it sounds perfect.


  • Aw man, Torre Argentina is one of my favourite places in the world and was pretty much the sole reason I got the train down to Rome from Naples. Got shouted at for sitting on the floor though. Apparently, that’s only for the cats 😉

    Lis / last year’s girl x

  • I think I saw a couple of cats here when I visited Rome in 2005 but I don’t think that it was an actual sanctuary back then #citytripping

  • maggie torsney-weir

    I love hearing about these kinds of places, the sanctuaries for homeless animals. Those little signs of kindness make me hopeful. #citytripping

  • I wish I had known about this before I visited Rome. The kindness of those who look after these cats is touching!

  • This is wonderful – I’d never heard of this, but what a quirky and amazing spot to discover among those ruins. I am a big cat lover (but sadly allergic to them) so will definitely be stopping by (with some antihistamines) next time I’m in the city. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping


    I mean, you pretty much had me at the word CAT. I’ve always wanted to visit Rome, & now I’m even more determined to visit haha x

    • You definitely should! Even my boyfriend, who doesn’t much like cats, thought it was pretty cool!