Small dog along the dock beside a canal in Venice, Italy.

Explore Venice With Your Dog – Part 2 | Dog Travel Italy

As our visit to Venice with our small dog, Tikka, continued into the second day we were reminded of my own advice – coming out of your hotel in Venice there is never a right or a wrong way to go. If you happen to turn the way Google mapped out for you then great, but if instead you made a ‘wrong turn’ and ended up finding a beautiful bridge or a tiny hole in the wall cafe, then joy! This is the wonderful maze of Venice.

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Bridge of Sighs

With a loose plan in mind to see the main sites, we leashed up Tikka and headed out to the canal and wound our way, the long way, to each point of interest. The famous Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) built in 1600 is a beautiful enclosed white bridge connecting the prison with the Doge’s Palace over the Rio di Palazzo. Although very busy, the best vantage point to see this limestone beauty is from the Ponte della Paglia, along the main promenade. Give it a few minutes for a spot to open up and you can pick up your dog while they sigh about yet another photo op in front of a famous Italian landmark.

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Tikka getting ready to meet the pigeons of St. Mark’s Square

 

Just a few minutes on from this spot brought us to St. Marks Square where a pigeon adventure awaited us. We had grandiose ideas of having Tikka run through the pigeons with joyful abandon under the flourish of wings and a breathtaking backdrop of Italian architecture. Instead, we had a husband covered in birdseed and a little dog puzzled that pigeons were not afraid of her. In a just a few moments, Tikka went from, ‘Yay!Pigeons! This square is the best thing ever!’ to ”What the !*?! , Get me away from these crazy ass birds!”.  This is one of our favourite memories, laughed about over a few glasses of wine. Don’t worry it’s not all Hitchcock birds in your face if you go there with your dog, just avoid the people trying to force birdseed in your hand and on your head.

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Tikka meets the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square

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Tikka hides from the pigeons at St. Mark’s Square

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Tikka decides pigeons are no longer her thing at St. Mark’s Square

 

After settling down, Tikka was right at home walking around the outside of Doge’s Palace, home of the utmost authority for the Republic of Venice. This amazing building was reconstructed in the typical Venetian gothic style of the 14th century and stands with views facing the canal and St. Mark’s Square. Although it’s not allowed to bring dogs inside, we never missed out as there is so much to look at with all the intricate exterior details and mosaics adorning the building.

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Doge’s Palace with Tikka. This may be our favourite photo from our trip.

For one of the most amazing meals during our stay, we ventured over the wooden ‘Ponte (bridge) Accademia that crosses the Grand Canal to the Dorsoduro area of Venice and explored the artisan shops nestled between all the museums, eventually finding our way to the Giudecca Canal.

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Shopkeeper waiting to greet tourists.

 

 

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Tikka at the Grand Canal

 

Leaving lots of time to explore and ‘get lost’, we arrived just in time for our reservation at Ristorante Riviera. This modern Venetian meal was true indulgence but also cozy at the same time. We ate fancy appetizers that belonged in an art gallery and feasted on pasta dishes heaped with freshly shaved truffles. A few waves to the passing cruise ships with our glasses of wine, we settled into a long lunch while Tikka snoozed at our feet on the warm stone promenade.

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Lunchtime at Ristorante Riveria

Our longest self-guided walking tour was a round trip adventure to the Cannaregio district of Venice that contains the Jewish quarter.  In the early 1500’s the Jewish ghetto was formed and was the oldest in the world. This is a quieter area and some may even find it ‘drab’ compared to the other districts, but what we found was a calm respite from the throngs of tourists and enjoyed the silent and beautiful views of the canals and residences in this area.

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Peeking down one of hundreds of little canals in Venice

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Dockside in the Cannaregio district

Our 3 hour walk (snacks and beverage stops included) took us over the famous Rialto Bridge where we walked through Venice’s oldest market established in 1097, through Cannaregio and back through the San Polo district. We then took Tikka over the Consitution bridge to spend some time in the restored Papadopoli Garden – Hooray, we found some grass!

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Proof that there is grass in Venice. Tikka at the Papadopoli Park.

Wrapping up our glorious stay in the ‘City of Bridges’ and our last night in Italy, Tikka kindly treated us to some gelato and a sunset walk along her favourite promenade. This quieter stretch of Riva degli Schiavoni, heading away from St. Mark’s Square, takes you to the Rimembranze Park at the western tip of Venice.

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Antique store along the Riva degli Schiavoni. How much is that doggy in the mirror?

As our furry traveler visited with the local canines along this popular dog walking promenade we chatted about our wonderful three weeks in Italy and how easy it was to bring Tikka along with us. Italy is one of the most dog friendly countries to visit and traveling with your pet allows you to experience places and local culture in ways you may not think of.  Ciao!

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Do as Tikka does – Always have time to stop and enjoy the many flavours of life 🙂

 

Thank you for joining us on our epic road trip around Italy with our dog, Tikka. You can catch up on all our stops on our travel page: Dog-Friendly Travel

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

 

 

 

 

Visiting Ravello, a Canine playground | Dog Travel Italy

A feast for your eyes and a playground for your dog, Ravello is the place you go to relax while taking in the incredible views, wandering the hills and the winding pedestrian streets with your pup. Spend time with friends drinking beer, eating pizza and laughing into the night with your dog asleep next to you in one of the town’s charming restaurants. This hillside dwelling town on the Amalfi Coast is a fantastic dog friendly getaway and a perfect home base to explore the coastal towns or head over the hill to Pompeii for a day trip, only an hour away. But first, we need to get to this little hillside town.

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Driving along the Amalfi Coast and looking back at Positano.

Driving to Ravello is an adventure all by itself, and one to be embraced and not stressed about as it’s all part of the memories of a wonderful vacation. If you haven’t heard already, the narrow Amalfi Coast road is famous for it’s twists, turns and cliffs. Traffic is halted while buses maneuver around tight corners and you are constantly saying things like ‘That tour bus will never ever fit through there…‘ and ‘Aiieee, that’s just not possible!’ and ‘What the…there’s no room??!!’.

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Tikka at a hillside lookout, Ravello Italy.

If you don’t want to brave this first hand then it’s best to get a driver or take a bus and relax while looking out at the scenery and the car chaos, but we were not swayed by the stories and decided we’d go all in. Tikka was also up for the challenge, giving us a paws up and then napping the whole journey. We took our time and drove carefully in the daylight, learning to honk as we went through tunnels and leaving lots of room for cars in front of us in case they had to back up to make way for a truck.

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Marina di Praia and the steep road that takes you to this little cove.

There are many places to stop along the way and with stomachs rumbling and a dog needing a pee break from all that napping we decided to stop at a wee cove and grab some lunch. The road down to the water was a steep descent, clinging onto the side of the hill so we took it very slowly. Marina di Praia is a tiny village with a pebble beach and towering cliffs between the towns of Praiano and Conca dei Marini. Along with the beach goers and rental umbrellas, there are fishing boats and nets and we knew we were in for a yummy seafood lunch. Trattoria da Armandino didn’t disappoint and we happily dug into our fresh calamari while Tikka laid out in the warm sun, having a nap from all that, you guessed it, napping.

 

With our bellies full we started the car and headed back up the cliff to join the road and finish the last 30 minute leg of our drive. Describing Ravello with words would fall short of how magical and beautiful this pocket of Italy really is. So I present you with the first morning we awoke after our drive down from Rome. No dispute, this was the most incredible sunrise we ever witnessed. You win Amalfi Coast. We get it. You are a goddess.

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Sunrise over the Amalfi Coast looking out from Ravello.

And the beauty doesn’t stop as you explore the town with your dog throughout the day. Every angle reveals a gorgeous view, whether looking towards the houses and gardens dotting the hills or towards the sailboats bobbing along the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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Hills of Pontone, view from Ravello.

 

The sun and the rain were playing a game of leap frog during our five day stay, but the wet stuff didn’t deter our daily adventures. We took Tikka to the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, built in the 11th century and extensively renovated in the 20th century and just popped into a cafe when the rain swept through for 3o minutes.

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Entrance to Villa Cimbrone. Big doors, little dog.

 

The gardens of the Villa are a great place to bring your dog with lots of shade and nice pathways to walk along and we took her off leash in a quiet area for a game of fetch to let her stretch her little legs.

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Tikka at the Avenue of Immensity, Villa Cimbrone Gardens.

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Entrance and Cloister to Villa Cimbrone

Most people come to stand at the edge of the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (Infinity Terrace), 1200 feet above the water and possibly the best view in Italy. There are also numerous paths, rose gardens, statues to gaze at and a 5 star hotel to sit and sip a Limoncello at the pool lounge… and yes, it is dog friendly.

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Terrazzo dell’Infinito. Spectacular even on a cloudy day!

I was asked…what was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen in all my travels and I said the view from the Belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day, when the sky and the sea were each so vividly blue that it was not possible to tell one from the other.’

Gore Vidal

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Pathway to Eve’s Grotto and Mercury’s Seat.

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Detail inside the Cloister, Villa Cimbrone.

One of our days was spent at Mamma Agata’s, a friendly family run cooking school at the edge of Ravello, with huge gardens and huge smiles. Mamma Agata started her career as a teenager and cooked for Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire at the wealthy house she was employed at. Jacqueline Kennedy also enjoyed her simple, traditional dishes made with local ingredients that grow sweet and flavourful under the Italian sun.

 

We picked up some great cooking tips for authentic Italian dishes but it was the experience of joining the family for an afternoon that made it so wonderful. We didn’t want to impose so we left Tikka to rest at our AirBnb, but we were quickly scolded upon arrival for leaving her behind and yet again we were reminded about how dogs are welcomed with open arms in Italy. Probably not a bad thing that Tikka skipped the cooking class as I sense she would have been stuffed silly with all sorts of goodies from the kitchen.

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Piazza Centrale and Duomo Ravello

If you are thinking of a trip to Italy with your dog, you won’t go wrong with planning a relaxing stay in Ravello. For more information, this is a good link for exploring the town and attractions. Also have a look at the video below from the Ravello Festival, showcasing the surroundings for their annual music festival. When you go, raise a glass of Limoncello in honour of all the wanderlust dogs that keep us company on our travels 🙂

 

Read more about our travels around Italy with our dog Tikka on our Travel Page

Dog Friendly Travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climb Mt. Vesuvius with your Dog | Dog Travel Italy

“In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ― Jack Kerouac

Do one better and climb a goddamn volcano with your dog! We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend an afternoon on the beast itself, Mt. Vesuvius, the reason why Pompeii fell hard to it’s knees and brought all life to a standstill in 79AD. Too heavy to take in? You can get an ice cream at the top!

There is no escaping Mt.Vesuvius, it’s presence looms over the landscape no matter the direction you are heading in, rising up in front of you through the front windshield, or watching you through your rear view mirror as you speed along the autostrade.

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View of Naples along the climb to the crater.

 

After a morning of exploring the streets and houses of Pompeii that were once covered by volcanic ash, we jumped in the car and headed 10 minutes up the highway to explore this mighty hill. After coming off the main road,  we drove another 20 minutes up the side of the volcano and arrived at the parking area, basically a side road with cars parked all along the shoulder. Here is where the adventure begins.  You can can start walking up the continuation of the main road to the top parking lot (reserved for buses) or take a shuttle – it’s about 45 minutes to walk and we decided on the shuttle as it was a little late in the day and we were keen to drive back along the Amalfi Coast in the daylight. Don’t worry, I haven’t mislead you, there was still a big  climb for Tikka to do.

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Tikka enjoying her volcano adventure.

The shuttle is just 5 min, with a quick stop to buy your park ticket and it drops you off at the base of the crater portion of the volcano, the steep path right in front of you, and a couple souvenir stalls of course…

The air was fresh and cool and the crowds were manageable – very busy on the wide path taking you up, up, up to the top, but no one really got in your way. There were all types of people making the hike – locals and tourists from all over, and every age imaginable. Families with little kids being carried and adventurers over 75 that left us in their volcanic dust. There were even a few gals carefully hanging onto their boyfriends as they made the climb in their heels, the bravest of all.

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Viewing area and concession stand at the top of Mt. Vesuvius.

And one Canadian dog, happy to be out in the air and getting some really good exercise.

The walk from this top parking lot is  about 30 minutes and it’s safe but a steady, reasonably steep climb without many switchbacks. Nothing to scramble over or watch your step with, the path is well maintained and little cars go up it to reach the concession stands at the top. Take it at your own pace and you’ll make it, no one is judging if you stop for a lot of breaks. Ok, Tikka might, she was all go!

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Overlooking the Bay of Naples

The views you are rewarded with are as you would expect, breathtaking. Naples is laid out in front of you and as you reach the crater you have a clear view of the Bay of Naples and the sky and water mesh together in a big, blue painting.

The path continues half way around the lip of the crater and there is still steam rising from the fissures. Don’t expect a lake of bubbling magma as you peer over the edge, it’s pretty much a big hole with a lot of rocks and gravel, kinda like a quarry. We spent some time enjoying the vistas and chatting with a few people that were interested in us having a dog with us, had an ‘almost’ cold beer bought from the concession at the top, grabbed some water for Tikka and then started to make our way back down.

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Steam rising from the Mt. Vesuvius crater.

Quite an amazing day, seeing the cause and effect of how a volcano took out an entire population. Here is a link to the Vesuvius Park website to plan your own volcano outing with your dog. http://www.vesuviopark.it/pnv/home/index.asp

Next on our list is Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, a real treat for 2 and 4 legged travelers. Coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, but the guideline is not specific: Animals 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.
  • 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.