A black feline soft paw chiling in the evenign at Largo Argentina
Rome is just an incredible city. Strolling through the heart of the city, every corner could be taken from a post card scene. From baroque churches to ancient archaeological sites; every building is a feast for the eyes.
Even more fascinating than the opulent buildings is the strong bond the ancient city has with cats. Yes, cats! During our trip, we stumbled upon a colony of 200 cats (!!) living at the ancient site of Torre Argentina, where Julius Cesar was once stabbed by Brutus. The cats live in a shelter which is publicly protected. Italy is a no-kill nation, meaning no healthy stray cat is allowed to be put down. The cats of Rome, Gatti di Roma, are a well known tourist magnet and decorate lots of calendars you can buy around the city. All together more than 260,000 stray cats live in Rome in over 2,000 colonies. Rome’s city council even declared cats as part of the Roman bicultural heritage.
Why do cats have such a special place in Roman culture? Apparently, it all dates back to the bubonic plague. The cat population in Italy kept the disease carrying rats in check, avoiding Italy’s population to succumb to the disease, unlike the rest of Europe. When the Italian Catholic church started to chase and hunt down cats in the 1300s, there were not enough cats anymore to chase rats and disease spread rapidly across the country.
Today, organised volunteers and the neighbourhood “gattare”(=cat ladies who feed cats) look after Rome’s felines. The most famous gattare was Italian movie star Anna Magnani, known for feeding the stray cats of Trastevere with pots of pasta.
Anna Magnani with one of her cats
So on your next trip to Rome, look out for the cats of Torre Argentina, the Colosseum and the garden of Trajan. Beautiful animals majestically perching on marble columns, looming over Italy’s ancient cultural treasures. What a sight!
Italy is my favourite country in the world! After having visited the Amalfi Coast, Napoli, Sorrento and Sardinia, it was only logical to book in a three day trip to Rome to kick of the Italian honeymoon extravaganza after my wonderful wedding (full wedding update will follow once I am back in Londres).
A lifetime is not enough to get to know Rome so I won’t even try to give out travel tips for Rome. Just sharing a few highlights I cherry picked from the wealth of culture to see in the Eternal city.
Trastevere: We were lucky enough to base ourselves just 20 minutes walking distance from world famous sites such as the Trevi Fountain or the Piazza Navona. The bubbly district of Trastervere is located west of the Tiber river. Quintessentially Italian, you will find cobbled, narrow allies lined by medieval houses, beautiful piazzas coming to life at night and many amazing restaurants, trattorias and cafés.
Via Scala in Trastevere
We stayed at a wonderfully romantic apartment in the heart of Trastevere, booked via airbandb. Accommodation in Rome can be hit and miss so we were delighted to have found this jewel. Contact us if you’d like us to share the details.
One of the many Piazzas in Trastevere. Polka dot dress from Max & Co.
Victor Emmanuel II Monument aka the ‘Wedding Cake’
This is a very young sight compared to most of Roms historical buildings dating back to BC. Completed only in 1911, the grandiose palace towers over the rest of the city. I love the marble white exterior and the stunning views the palace provides, often shared with brides who use this stunning setting as a wedding backdrop.
Crossbody bag from Moschino, wayfarer sunglasses from Ray Ban
Just outside the historic centre in Trastevere, Giancolo Hill provides stunning views overlooking the city. If you are a bit overwhelmed by the rich culture of the city (like I was!), this is the place to chill out and to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.
The Aqua Paola fountain at Gianicolo is a 17th century basin made from marble taken from the forum. I dipped my feet into the fresh cold water to cool down. Like many of Rome’s sights, this is a popular wedding backdrop.
A lucky bride using this stunning, ancient amphitheatre as a background for her wedding photos.