Pompeii Pup – Visiting the Roman Ruins | Dog Travel Italy

There are a lot of famous sites in Italy and with only a few weeks to explore a country with so much history and culture it’s hard to pick and choose what to spend time exploring and what you have to add to your ‘next time!’ list. When planning our road trip around Italy with our dog we were ecstatic to learn we could take Tikka to Pompeii with us (small dogs only), it quickly became a ‘this time!’ stop.

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View coming over the mountain to Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background.

It was an amazing day, starting out early by meeting up with some good friends who joined us from England, then driving over a scenic, windy road taking us over the Amalfi coast mountains from Ravello, to descend on Pompeii as the gates were opening. By getting a jump on the crowds we were able to find parking close by, at the Piazza Immacolata entrance and beat the heat. For only a couple Euros we parked in front of a restaurant, listened for a couple minutes about how wonderful the food is there while we paid for the spot, used the washroom and bought some water and some guides.

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Guidebooks and water in hand – ready to explore Pompeii with our dog, Tikka.

Pompeii was an incredible Roman town of 11,000 inhabitants, locked in time by the destruction caused from a neighboring  volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, around 80AD. The spewing ash that erupted from the crater covered the town and preserved the people, structures and even the culture of the Pompeii citizens. Unlike visiting a museum or a smaller heritage site, you are fully immersed in the day to day life of an ancient time as the area is just so huge.

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Unfortunate citizens of Pompeii caught under the smothering blanket of volcanic ash.

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Our little historian.

Walking through the endless streets, you can pop into houses of all social classes and think back to what everyday life was like. Then stroll up a main street to visit the hub of activity at the forum or imagine the games at the amphitheater. There is even a brothel to walk through with a menu of various services painted on the walls for customers to choose from.

That is an incredibly brief run down of what you’ll discover and describing this town and what you’ll find could easily become a novel. Staying on point, this is about bringing your dog along for the visit. The site is extensive and could be exhausting for people and dogs on a hot, overcrowded day. We gave ourselves a 4 hour limit (including a lunch stop) which only scratched the surface but was enough to get a really good overview. It’s a lot of walking and stopping to check things out so not very strenuous on us or Tikka, but going in the middle of summer could drain your mental batteries pretty quickly.

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One of the strays inside the Pompeii ruins, well fed and taking a siesta.


Tips for taking your dog with you to Pompeii:

  • Bring water and a travel bowl
  • Dogs are allowed in the food court – eat before 12pm to avoid the lineups and to get a seat.
  • According to the PompeiiSites.org website, you are allowed to bring small dogs under 10kg. Big dogs are not allowed within the archaeological area. Animals who are permitted to enter the site need to be held with a leash, and taken in the arms of their owners when entering the buildings. In case visitors run into animals who are alone, please do not approach them. Please review the regulations for information on dogs and assist dogs.
  • Dogs must be carried inside the houses or closed in areas
  • Be diligent in looking out for strays. We saw 4 or 5 strays and just carried Tikka when we saw one to avoid any contact. This is their territory and respected their space.
  • Go early for less crowds
  • Mid June to Mid September has the highest temperatures – if you go during these weeks, go in the morning and make it a shorter visit

The second part of our day in this area deserves it’s own spotlight – we climbed Mt. Vesuvius and stared down into the belly of the beast that caused all this destruction…check it our here!

You can catch up on Tikka’s dog friendly road trip around Italy on the VanDoggo Travel Page.





Conquer Rome with your Dog Part 3 – Villa Borghese Gardens and Trastevere | Dog Travel Italy

Our last day in Rome was all about spoiling our little traveler and taking her somewhere she could stretch her legs and roll in some grass, and later to visit a dog friendly bakery we had heard about. (Catch up with these links for the Colosseum in Part 1 and Campo Fiori  Part 2).

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View of Rome looking west from the viewpoint at Viale del Belvedere.

Starting out just after sunrise we began our morning walk in a different direction, heading away from the Spanish Steps to ‘The People’s Square’ at the North East gate of Rome. The square has been turned into a pedestrian zone and right in the middle stands an Egyptian obelisk brought to Italy around 30BC. Originally the obelisk was erected at Circus Maximus but was excavated after falling and getting buried in debris during wars in the 6th century. This was our gateway to the gardens of Villa Borghese, the largest public park in Rome and our morning adventure.

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Man made lake and Temple of Aesculapius, Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome.

A short walk took us up Pincian Hill for a spectacular view over Rome and after stopping for a beat we headed into the middle of the park to find the dog park we were keen to explore. This morning walk was quickly turning into a highlight of our city visit and we silently thanked the Borghese family that had the foresight to turn over this 150 acre private garden to the public. It’s a sanctuary from the stone and concrete of the busy streets below, and you could feel the happiness of the local dogs around you. Grass! Trees! Shade!

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Fountain Cavalli Marini

The park is mostly known for it’s museums that are scattered over the 150 acres, but there is also a a cinema, a replica of Shakespeares’s Globe Theater and monuments galore to check out. There is even an equestrian area that was used during the 1960’s Olympics, what a gorgeous venue. We stayed focused and pointed ourselves towards the dog park, an easy walk on the wide, shaded pedestrian walkways.

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The ‘valley of dogs’ at Villa Borghese dog park

And holy dog biscuits batman, what a gorgeous dog park it is…A huge green area with gentle sloping hills and a beautiful path right down the middle creating a ‘valley of dogs’. There were all sorts of furry canine creatures playing and sniffing. Boisterous German Shepherds, snuffling Pugs, elegant Afghans and goofy Labradors. They all came for their morning off leash constitution with their owners. So many dogs, but all well behaved and with a space so big, there was something for everyone. Room to run, trees to sniff or benches to lie under. Yes, it was heaven and Tikka enjoyed meeting some new friends and running her heart out before crashing out in the shade.

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Gorgeous morning and green grass in the middle of Rome!

There was a plethora of garbage bins, so the dog poop was non existent from what we could tell. Everyone respected what a gift this place was and did their job keeping it tidy.

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Sign at the dog park, including a phone number for a vet.

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A ball is a ball no matter what country you are visiting.

After a good off leash play time, we made a loop back along another park path so that we could see more of the gardens and decided on a coffee break close to where we started our journey. La Casina Dell’orolgio is a cafe with a lovely patio perfect for a tired out pup and hungry people needing an espresso and some pastries. It was a quiet morning with a few other people enjoying the patio with their dogs, but we thought how crazy busy it would be in the height of summer as it would be a welcome shady stop for a cold drink.

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La Casina Dell’orolgio

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A golden customer on the patio.

The early afternoon took us on a walking trip back over the Tiber River to check out the Trastevere neighbourhood and have a late lunch. A mini adventure ensued when we tried to locate the tram to take us over, and by the time we found the line, we only had to go one stop. It was a short trip but Tikka can still claim she did it.

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Typical Trastevere doorway.

Trastevere is a great little area – At one time a bit of a secret place off the beaten track, it’s now been fully discovered by tourists, but isn’t as hectic and busy as the centre of Rome. There aren’t a lot of big attractions in the immediate area, so the tour buses are few and it’s more of a place to wander and take your time, exploring the cobbled streets and ivy lined buildings. Lunch was on our mind and ‘Da Enzo’ lived up to the reviews and became our best meal during our stay in Rome. Simple dishes but pure and fresh for the ol’ tastebuds. Do you even have to ask at this point? Yes, no problem to have the dog with you at the table.

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Having a mid day snooze at Da Enzo Restaturant.

At a bottle of wine and full bellies o’clock, we paid the bill and continued to wind our way around the streets with a destination in mind.. ‘Biscottificio Innocenti’. Rated as one of the top bakeries in Rome, we had to make a stop at this family cookie business.

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One of each please! Tasty treats at Biscottificio Innocenti.

We were warmly welcomed in as soon as we found the bakery.  The owner, Stefania, went straight for Tikka with a pizza cookie that was quickly offered as a token of friendship. Cultural and species divide was bridged.

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Tikka making a new friend, Stefania, over a pizza cookie.

Looking around, you could see ample evidence of Stefania’s love of dogs – paw print designs and dog photos on the walls. Not saying that this is a huge dog destination, it’s just a  great bakery with the nicest owners that love dogs and you know you have found a special little place to go with your furry travel companion.

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Dogs are welcome at this Trastevere bakery.

No lies here – we loaded up on cookies, filling a big bag so that we had lots to nibble on after meals with a cup of tea, for days to come.

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A small sampling of what we brought home with us. Put the kettle on.

The afternoon rounded out with a long walk over to the The Vatican, we must have covered 40,000 steps that day… Only humans are allowed inside the buildings, but St. Peter’s Square is completely open to bringing your dog and we found a nice set of steps to sit and observe all the people making their pilgrimage. They come for all reasons, personal faith, spiritual guidance or to mark off another amazing sight that Rome has to offer.

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Watching the crowds at St. Peter’s Square


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And that’s a wrap – Time to reflect and nap on our last day in Rome.

After a nice rest we called it a day and took the Metro (Subway) back to the Spanish Steps. We had Tikka’s muzzle handy in case it was required on the train, as that was something we read about before coming to Italy – having dogs muzzled on transit. No one seemed to adhere to this rule and it may be enforced more with big dogs. We kept her quiet on our lap and within 20 minutes we were home again, tired from a full day of walking and ready to open up our bag of baking. As we packed up our bags and gathered Tikka’s bits and pieces we chatted about everything we wanted to come back and see. This was not a one time only visit and we promised our little dog that she could romp in the gardens again one day soon.

So where to next? This may be the end of our three part series on exploring Rome with your dog, but our trip to Italy was not over yet. Coming up, we visit Pompeii with Tikka, climb Mt. Vesuvius and venture into Venice.




Snow Day Goes to the Dogs | Dog Photography

Vancouver was hit this year with more snow than usual in the city centre and each time the flakes came down Tikka eagerly awaited going outside to have a good ‘ol romp in the white stuff. Unfortunately being right in the city core, it didn’t build up too much and would turn to slush and then ice faster than she would get her fill.


Dog Friendly winter trails at Mt. Seymour, Vancouver.


It was time to get her up onto one of the local mountains for a proper run in the snow, so we headed up to Mount Seymour on the North Shore for some fun. This area is becoming popular for snowshoers and there is a great little trail system that is dog friendly and very well marked. The paths were well packed down so we skipped the snowshoes this time (but very interested in trying it out soon. Hint.hint…an upcoming post). There were a lot of dogs that had also convinced their owners to take them up the mountain as well, and we were surrounded by pure furry happiness.


On Squirrel Patrol


This mini trip was a bit spur of the moment and we intend to get up there again and spend some more time exploring, take a lunch for the trail and try out those snowshoes. Any tips on snowshoeing with your dog?


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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