Small black dog in Assisi Umbria Italy

Overnight at Assisi with your Dog | Dog Travel Italy

Driving from the Amalfi Coast to our next multi-night city stop in Venice is a long haul for humans (although Tikka could manage the extended nap with no problem) so we broke up the drive with a one night stay in Assisi, in the Umbria region of Italy. It was an early start to the 5 hour drive from our temporary coastal home in Ravello as we wanted to arrive with time to explore Assisi in the daylight and visit an incredibly well reviewed little wine bar. Leaving early also gave us time for a historic lunch stop in Monte Cassino, about 80 miles south of Rome.

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Rebuilt Monte Cassino Abbey

The Abbey at Monte Cassino is like opening a book from the ‘WWII blunders’ history book and walking across the page. This rocky hilltop sanctuary was unfortunately bombed by the allies following reports that German forces were occupying the monastery, but tragically only Italian civilians seeking refuge were killed in the air strike. Recognizing the significance of this wartime error, the abbey was rebuilt in 1964 and now stands as a reminder of the Battle of Monte Cassino. Although dogs are not allowed inside, the views and nature surrounding the site make for a great dog friendly stop to stretch the legs.

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One of many walking paths in Mount Aurunci Park.

Only a minute back down the hill from the abbey is the Polish WWII Cemetery, the final resting place for over 2,000 Polish soldiers that stormed the bombed out Abbey after Germans eventually took hold of it. This is a huge cemetery that is part of the Mount Aurunci Park, that offers sweeping vistas of the Lazio area and close up inspections of war ‘trinkets’ left behind.

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Polish Cemetery and Monte Cassino

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Well marked trail heads with adventure times included 🙂

A whole day could easily be spent filling your brain with history and walking the paths with your dog so we made a note to spend more time venturing further into the park on our next visit in this area. But for now, we had to hit the road to make it to our stop over town of Assisi for the night.

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Annual Peace March from Perugia to Assisi, heading down Via Beato Padre Ludovico da Casoria.

We arrived around 4 pm right in the middle of a massive peace march which blocked the road to the quaint hotel we were trying to get to. After we snuck down some back roads we came within 300 ft of the hotel gate and made a ‘sorry we are tourists’ gesture and joined the March for 2 minutes in our rental Jeep before turning into the hotel courtyard. After checking in we did a quick search and discovered this gathering was 100,000 strong, walking 24km from Perugia to Assisi and has been held annually from 1961.

It seemed like we faced all 100,000 people as we climbed the hill against the flow to the center of Assisi.

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Basilica of San Francesco

Once at the top of Via Beato Padre Ludovico da Casoria (say that fast three times…), we paused at the Basilica of San Franscesco and witnessed the late afternoon sun throwing a beautiful warm light over the valley below. Tikka even seemed to enjoy the sun was happy to take a break from navigating the crowds. Assisi is a prominent stop for many as it is the birthplace of Saint Francis, one of the Catholic church’s most famous saints, who preached sermons to animals and cast a watchful eye over all creatures. He also died here at the age of 44. Regardless of beliefs and whether or not you travel with your dog, this is a delightful stop when exploring Italy as walking the streets immediately transport you to the wonders of the 12th century. And the porchetta sandwiches and meringue from the tiny street side vendors make for a happy belly.

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Perched with the best spot to take in the valley view from atop Assisi.

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Piazza Inferiore di S. Francesco


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Meringue heaven.

Before coming to Assisi we read about a wonderful wine bar called Bibenda Assisi and the wonderful owner Nila, and knew we had to make a stop after the gushing reviews (how often do you see a 4.9 out of 5 rating?). This quick stop turned into many hours of chatting, discovering new wines and learning about her journey from the Ukraine to opening a business in Italy. This is what traveling is all about – a happy dog crashed out at your feet while you languish over wine, local cheeses and cured meats and chat into the evening with a new friend. Incredibly dog friendly we can’t wait to visit with Nila in future years!

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A new host at Bibenda Assisi. Thank you for visiting!

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Via San Francesco

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Little alley of Vicolo Frondini with the best-framed view.

The crowds had dissipated on our walk back to our beds and we had the bricks to ourselves as we wound through the streets chatting about the great day we had in yet another dog welcoming area of Italy.

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Welcoming sign in a local Assisi leather shop.

While you await our next Italy installment (Venice, yay!), catch up on the road trip so far on our travel page: Dog Friendly Travel





Conquer Rome with your Dog Part 2 – River Tiber, Campo Fiori and Via Margutta | Dog Travel Italy

With so much to digest after visiting a place as magnificent as Rome we couldn’t help but split up our discoveries  into a mini series, so here we go with part 2 of 3.  (Part 1 took us to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Circus Maximus).

We continued our sight seeing routine of being early risers and taking Tikka out for a couple hours to stroll around the city. There were always a few destinations earmarked for our walks, but we spent time enjoying the journey getting to where we wanted to be. The bustling market of Campo Fiori right in the middle of Rome was a must stop, and we made a few detours on the way there.


A lone jogger on Tiber Island, Rome.

While the Romans were buzzing through the main streets on their scooters hurrying to work, we took our sweet time walking and sniffing along the Tiber River. Because ships could reach as far as 60 miles upriver, Tiber was incredibly important for Roman commerce and was the main watercourse for the city developing along it’s Eastern banks. It also has a grim past as the condemned that were tried and strangled on Capitoline Hill were thrown down the Germonian stairs to rot and then eventually thrown into the mighty river. Ouch.


The Ponte Fabrico joining Rome to Tiber Island. The island hosts the Isola del Cinema film festival every summer, a much welcomed open air nighttime escape from the heat.

Only 5 minutes from the river took us back into the streets, searching for the Campo Fiori market. We were caught in a 20 min rain shower that was just enough to lift the smells from the stone walls, throw a lovely sheen across the roads and make Tikka into a fuzzball. A few umbrellas came out, but it was clear it wouldn’t last so we pressed on.


Streets around Campo Fiori, Rome.

Campo Fiori translates to ‘field of flowers’, a note to what may have bloomed in this square hundreds of years before we stepped into it. It’s now a busy day market bursting with seasonal fruits and vegetables from dozens of stalls. At night it transforms to a lively destination as all the restaurants and cafes that line it’s perimeter swing into action. At one time, the entertainment was to come and watch public executions, including live burnings such as  Bruno Giordano (Philosopher, Mathematician and Astronomer ) in 1600. We’ll settle on the entertainment of us trying to use our broken Italian to buy a couple of apples.


Looking for something a bit meatier than oranges at the market.


Vendor stalls at Campo Fiori, Rome.


More in line with Tikka’s cravings, a butcher at Campo Fiori.

After a bit of shopping we made our way back through the Tridente area close to the Spanish Steps, stopping for a late breakfast at a little cafe so that Tikka could rest her paws. She took full advantage and enjoyed the seat cushion while we ordered our coffees and then took our time sitting and watching everyone coming and going.


Breakfast stop in Campo Marizio, Rome.

The afternoon drew us back to the Campo Marizio district, or the ‘foreigner’s quarter’. Although we were ambling along and taking our time, we did have a goal -to visit the building and courtyard of Via Margutta 51, made famous by Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday’. The street is just gorgeous, located in a beautiful little neighbourhood full of galleries and hanging plants and at one time crowded with artists residing in all the surrounding buildings. Federico Fellini made this street his home and embraced La Dolce Vita.


The hanging plants of Via Margutta soaking up the late fall sun in Rome.



Courtyard at No 51. Tikka’s Roman Holiday!

Part 3 of our adventure in Rome takes us to a beautiful dog park in Villa Borghese Gardens and lunch in Trastevere.

If you are looking for even more of our adventure in Italy, check out our travel page!



Dog Q&A Challenge

Thought it would be fun to participate in our first blogging Q&A set up by the fine folks at Go Pet Friendly.  Every year they challenge bloggers to share experiences and goals for their posts. Challenge accepted!

  1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.

    -Just under a year, Feb 2016 was the first post. VanDoggo is all about our canine adventures with our dog Tikka – travel, tips, musings and photography. She was feral before she came to us (you can read her Once Feral story here) and we are amazed everyday how much this dog has accomplished. It inspired me to start a blog to share our experiences with her.

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Conquer Rome with your Dog – Part 1 Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Circus Maximus | Dog Travel Italy

“Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)”

-Gaius Iulius Caesar

Tikka came to Rome, Tikka saw many a famous site and Tikka conquered any concerns of bringing a dog with you on your trip to the Eternal City.

With only  three days in Rome, we knew there was a lot to pack into our visit but we made it easier on ourselves by not worrying about anything we couldn’t get to. The focus was on walking the streets and enjoying the ‘every day’ experience – how Romans spend their morning at a market, walking their dogs at Circus Maximus, buying biscotti in Trastevere or having a  long lunch at a little place away from the crowds.

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