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.
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…)