The Road to Rome with your Dog | Dog Travel Italy

Throughout Rome you will come face to face with numerous depictions of the ‘She-Wolf’ an important part of this city’s vast history. Through paintings, frescoes, and statues her myth ignites the tale of how she discovered and cared for the twin brothers of Romulus & Remus, who then went on to found Rome. A city with this many ties to the wolf couldn’t be more open and friendly to bringing a dog along with you while you discover the treasures of Rome.

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Tikka and the Vespa | Dog Travel Italy

There were so many wonderful things to see on our trip around Italy and so many dog friendly ways to get to all the sites we wanted to see, or at least what we could fit in to three weeks. Although most of our travel was by car, local transit or on foot, we did break from our regular programming and rented a couple of Vespas to visit Chiusdino in the Siena region of Tuscany. Would this stop us from from bringing our dog along to enjoy the afternoon? A big ‘heck no’! Check out our fun little video of  Tikka riding a Vespa in Tuscany:

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A Doggy Day at the Beach, San Vincenzo | Dog Travel Italy

Reading up on all the dog friendly things we could do on our trip to Italy, one particular place stood out to us as a ‘must – visit’, the Dog Beach at San Vincenzo, in the Livorno area of Tuscany only one hour south of Pisa.

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This little piece of doggy heaven completely caters to its four legged visitors and it’s impressive to see how much thought goes into creating something solely for the dog’s well being and happiness…other countries need to take note. There are dog friendly beaches around the world, but this is on a whole other level with a huge off leash beach, dog events, parasols and loungers to rent for a shady nap and dog treats sold right on the sand.

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Unfortunately we missed the beach season by just a few days, so although the beach was open to visit, the services had closed for the season so we couldn’t take advantage of everything Dog Beach had on offer during the summer. Coming from Canada, the temperature still had the heat of a July day, but alas was turning too cool for the sun loving Italians. It was still a fantastic afternoon and the beach was busy with dogs and owners enjoying the Tyrrhenian sea and warm sand.

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In the regular season, one side of the beach is set up with bright yellow sun umbrellas with reserved loungers for rent and you can have your dog right next to you or on your sun bed. The other side is an open area that you can bring your own chairs or towels and lay right out on the beach. There is a bar and food right at the entrance and they have items for your dog as well. Doggy ice cream anyone?

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Other amenities include: Fresh drinking water, showers (dog and people), agility course, weekly vet visit, monthly dog events, washrooms, easy parking, and direct access to the sea. All that is required from your dog is that they are behaved and show absolutely no aggression towards other dogs or people. Fair enough for such an open area with so many off leash dogs.

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Now look at all these happy pups on the San Vincenzo Facebook Page! That’s what going to the beach is all about 🙂

And if you are not in the Livorno area, the dog beach page on the Explore Italian Culture website lists more dog friendly beaches all around Italy, ready for you to take your sand loving dog to! Each one has different regulations, so do a bit of reading before showing up (size of dog, muzzles needed, vaccinations etc…)

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Can’t wait for our next trip to visit them all!

*This post is part of our traveling around Italy with our dog. Here are some other dog friendly activities we discovered in Tuscany:

Visiting a Tuscan Winery with your Dog

Biking to San Galgano Abbey

 

 

Amazing dog friendly wine tour in Chianti | Dog Travel Italy

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
~ W.C. Fields

A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a classic stop to visit a winery and have a long, slow meal in the Tuscan countryside. All made that much better by having our dog join us.

 

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Tikka hanging in the vineyard in Greve in Chianti, Italy

With our new city love Florence, Italy fading behind us, *sniff,  we headed for our lunch date and tour of a beautiful winery in Tuscany. We left a bit early so that we could take our time driving through the country to get to the Grieve area of Chianti by 12pm. It’s under a one hour drive but we were glad we took the extra time as leaving Florence took some navigation skills to get onto the ring road and there were a couple wrong turns before we were solidly on our way. When you leave enough time, these ‘turns’ become mini adventures and without the stress of time you can enjoy the additional ramble through a newly found street.

The concierge’s suggestion to head to Greti along the A222 gets a big thumb’s up. This is what a road trip with your dog in Italy is all about. It’s a very scenic and pretty drive, through small villages and over hills with expansive views of  vineyard after vineyard. Tuscany at it’s finest.

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Castello di Verrazzano

In just under an hour we were on the dirt road that takes you up to Castello di Verrazzano (The Castle of Verrazzano) to start our tour and sample their libations.We drove in as they were harvesting the grapes along the road and we felt like a travel brochure was coming to life through our car windows. What an amazing estate… picturesque in every way, from buildings to landscape to the Tuscan sun shining above it.

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View overlooking the estate of Verrazzano

The castle is in the heart of the Chianti Classico region and is steeped in history. It was originally a Roman settlement, and is mentioned  in a year 1150 manuscript for it’s 52 hectares of magnificent vineyards.

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Grapes drying inside for sweet dessert wine.

The Verrazzano family took over the property in the 7th century. Their family’s claim to fame is Giovanni da Verrazzano, an explorer who was born here in 1485 and later sailed off to discover the bay of New York along with other parts of the East Coast of the US.

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It changed hands a few times and “in 1958 the Cappellini family took over the Castle on the road of decadence and brought it back it to its former glory by restoring the villa and rebuilding the agricultural tissue and the vineyards, according to an ancient model, respecting the historical and architectonic features of the place. Cavalier Cappellini understood since the beginning the importance of the history and the beauty of the Chianti area for a better promotion of farming productions. He laid the foundations for that awareness that inspired the institution of the Agritourism practice.”.

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Dog on tour! Exploring the buildings and of the ancient cellars of the castle.

Tikka says “Enough history, on with the tour!” We headed out with our small group to explore the expansive gardens and ponds, buildings, ancient cellars and vineyards of the estate.

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In the gardens surrounding the private home of the Cappellini family

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A new garden to claim

They welcomed Tikka into the tour and only asked that we pick her up when we were down in the cellars. She was as keen to explore the property as much as we were as I’m sure it was full of great smells, especially the salami curing along the rafters.

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Facade of one of the many restored buildings

The guide was friendly and was full of interesting information on the the wine making process, taking us through each step, showing us the grapes and the amazing wooden barrels that make a Chianti wine so special. Verrazzano also produces olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and other products and it was neat to see everything in various stages of completion.

The tour ended at a huge tasting room for a beautiful wine pairing lunch. Plates came out with local salamis and ham, pasta, sausages, pork loin and salad, all balanced with their amazing range of Verrazzano wines. Although full, we squeezed in room for a taste of pecorino cheese drizzled with their incredible “Balsamico Verrazzano”. This is an aged balsamic vinegar that is as sweet as syrup that could be used as a topping for ice cream. No joke.

 

Tikka appreciated the afternoon nap next to us while we had lunch, and we appreciated that they accommodated her any way they could. Well, to a point. I’m sure she would have loved to hang out in the kitchen drooling while the pork loin was sizzling on the grill.

After stuffing ourselves stupid we had a little walk by the vineyard and took some pics around the property before heading off to our hotel in the Siena region of Tuscany, our next stop for a few days.

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View across the hill to the neighbouring winery

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Drunk from the Tuscan sunshine, not the wine tasting 🙂

 

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Last photo op before we head on down the road..

The afternoon was divine and all dog friendly – Castello di Verrazzano is a perfect mid way stop if you are going from Florence to Siena with your dog along for the ride.

Lots of different wineries open their doors to dogs, so don’t hesitate to bring your furry friend for a fun day out at a vineyard, just call ahead if you want to double check if they are allowed. Here is another great post from Bosco Abroad and their visit to a winery in the Piemonte area.

*This is part of a series of travelling around Italy with your dog. Check out our stay in Florence!

 

 

Visiting Florence with your Dog- Part1 | Dog Travel Italy

Ah Florence!

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I’m on vacation!

Our first city adventure with Tikka in Italy finally arrived as we rolled into this beautiful Tuscan city late in the afternoon on a warm September Day. Tikka, passed out in the back of the car, was again of no help with navigation so we found ourselves doing a few loops around the old city before zoning in on the exact street that took us to our hotel. Confession: we did have an ‘oh, crap… we are going down a one way street the wrong way’ moment. Glad we got that out of the way early on in our vacation, we knew we’d do it at least once!

After a quick check in at the hotel, we unloaded our bags and we were off with Tikka by our side to get our bearings before the sun went down. Florence is everything people write about in poetry, paint in pictures and sing songs about. Gorgeous, inspiring and welcoming… even for dogs.

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View of the Arno River and Oltrarno district at Sunset

Our first night took us down to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) for a fantastic view of the setting sun. With it being our first night around any major tourist attractions, we were surprised at just how crowded the streets were for late September. Quick note to selves that our city walks would be best early in the day to beat the masses and this plan paid off our entire trip. By going out early we not only had the city and views to ourselves we also saw the buildings and landscapes in the fresh warm glow of sunrise.

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Look closely to find Tikka and her Dad on Ponte Vecchio

And that’s just what we did on our first morning. Up at 7am to walk Tikka across the Arno River and climbed the stairs to Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) for the view of all views over Florence. Tikka enjoyed the early 45 min blood pumping walk after all the driving the day before and seemingly enjoyed the panoramic view as much as we did.

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This is what early mornings are all about, just look at that view!

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Sunrise at Piazzale Michelangelo

On the walk back we made a typical Italian breakfast stop at the bottom of the hill, close to the river at Cafe Rifrullo. We could get used to this! Fresh flaky pastries and top notch espresso to get our day going, all while our dog could have a quick nap beside us. The best part was watching all the locals with their dogs come and go – clearly Italian baristas are the bartenders of the morning, getting to know their regulars with quick chats as they came and went.

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Our favourite little dog friendly cafe in Florence

We made our way back through the Florentine streets to our hotel, stopping along the way to wonder at the numerous statues at Loggia dei Lanzi and the elaborate designs of the Florence Duomo. Crowds were still light so navigating the streets was easy with Tikka on the end of the leash.

After chilling for a few hours in our room we ventured out again for a meal at Fishing Lab Alle Murate with Tikka under our table. Yum! Highly recommend the Sea Bream and Tuna appetizers..Incredible!

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Late afternoon and a lot of walking later, we decided to leave Tikka at the hotel and walk up the 400+ steps of the Palazzo Vecchio to take in the vista and explore the battlements and prison cells of the tower. Arriving late in the day there was zero line up and the light was beautiful over the rooftops. This was one type of place where dogs weren’t allowed, a lot of museums won’t let dogs in. She wasn’t complaining…all the walking and new sights, sounds and smells left her completely crashed out in the room.

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Let’s get climbing

 

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View from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio

We finished out our busy day with an amazing dinner at a little restaurant called Trattoria Sostanza. We made a reservation ahead of time and let them know a dog would be in tow which was no problem. When we arrived, they couldn’t have been more accommodating or dog friendly. We were at a table where she could lay out of the way of any waiter’s feet and there was already a full water bowl ready for our arrival. It was just an introduction to how dog friendly the rest of our trip was going to be! 

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Read the second part of our visit to Florence with our dog where we visit parks, explore Oltrarno and check out the Mercato Centrale.

This post is part of the Vandoggo series of traveling around Italy with your dog.