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.

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










Dog Friendly Florence – Part2 | Dog Travel Italy

Following up from our first few days in Florence (part 1 here), the second half of our stay took us to a few different parks while we explored the Mercato Centrale, Oltrarno and Santo Spirito.

Our mornings continued with an early walk – easy to do when you are awake with jet lag. Coming from the lush rain forest of Vancouver, Tikka was perplexed with the lack of available grass and often gave us a look of ‘you expect me to pee on the street like an animal…?’ A male dog would have jumped right into marking the buildings and spots where dogs  came before him but it took Tikka a bit of time and a full morning bladder to finally go with the flow like her Italian counterparts. There are some lovely dog friendly parks in Florence, but not necessarily outside your hotel when you are staying in the thick of the old city and need a pee.

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Looking over Florence and deciding where to go next.

Our ‘go to’ place just 5 min from our hotel was the grass in front of the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. It’s not too glamorous and was a busy area, but it was nicely maintained and everyone is really good about picking up dog poop. It was also a block from the more eye pleasing view of Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, famous for it’s decorative frescoes.

We also visited Piazza della Indipendenza in the San Lorenzo area, which has some nice open areas and a bit of grass and we had a lovely chat with a local lady while Tikka ‘conversed’ with her Dachshunds. This was the first time we were asked the reoccurring question throughout our trip in Italy. ‘Femmina o Maschio?’  Dog park conversations always begins here and I gather it’s from the amount of intact dogs, male and female. No matter the city, this was the icebreaker to chatting with a local on the street or in the park.

A good romp in the park left us with rumbly stomachs so a stop for lunch at the Mercato Centrale close by was a no brainer. This is an amazing dog friendly indoor market with vendors selling everything from apples to zabaglione on the bottom floor during the day and whole top floor is alive with little restaurants serving amazing food well into the evening. Tikka approved as it was a feast for her little eyes being close up and personal to the huge Florentine steaks and freshly caught fish.

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Checking out the goods at Mercato Centrale


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And one of those for dessert. Make it two.

You can stop for quick street food or sit down for a longer lunch. We settled on a huge array of salami and cheese, Tikka eyeing the goods across the aisle from under our table. Lunch conversation was all about how incredible it would be if our markets back home in Vancouver were as accessible for dogs. One can hope…

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Tikka ever hopeful for something to come her way at lunch

Another fun walk took us along the river, west of the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci. Upper part was a long peaceful path with quite a few dogs casually strolling along with their humans and on the way back we dropped to the bottom part to walk closer to the river. Not as tidy, but a good off leash area.

This side of the river, Oltrarno, is much less crowded, but a must for exploring. We took some time to check out the Santo Spirito area and stopped for drinks in Piazza Santo Spirito under the shadow of the Basilica of the same name. This area was highlighted in a great post from A Girl In Florence and we were glad we took the advice to visit. It is very much a local, artisan area with cheaper drinks and eats and more laid back than the squares around the larger tourist areas. Perfect for a dog to settle in for an afternoon snooze away from the crowds.

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Ready for a pillow in Piazza Santo Spirito

On our last morning in Florence we headed out for a good walk in the Santa Croce district before hitting the road. We stumbled across Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi, a cute neighbourhood dog park just a couple blocks south of Piazza dei Ciompi. Not a lot of grass, but a decent size, fenced, shady, and a really fun group of regulars. Very well maintained and there was even a modern statue to honour the canines that frequent this park. Lots of antique shops in the area, so spending a day window shopping in the area wouldn’t be hard to do.

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Respect in a dog’s world. Statue at Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi.

After a decent visit with Tikka’s new friends we wound through the streets to the river and came to Parco Vita, a big green park with lots of shade next to the Ponte Niccolo bridge, right beside the water. A great place to have a really good tear around in the grass and some great views of the Arno River.

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Posing along the Arno River in front of the Tower of San Niccolo.

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View down the Arno River from Parco Vita.

Energy depleted and ready for a nap in the car, we headed out of Florence late morning for our lunch date with a winery in Chianti. Wine tasting, full lunch, tour, all with Tikka right there with us… check out our amazing visit to Castello di Verrazzano.



A Happy Car Ride | A Dog Story

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Did someone say car ride?

I am blessed. I have a dog that is at ease in the car while we cruise the Vancouver dog parks, and calmly waits for her ‘chauffeur’ to eventually stop and open the door for her. Nice life!


This hasn’t always been the case as my childhood dog, Kono, was the Tasmanian Devil of car passengers. Bouncing  off your body to race from window to window for endless hours in the family Ford, with never a moment of peace. A constant ‘oof’ was heard from anyone sitting in the middle seat as he used you as a trampoline, jamming his small jack hammer poodle paws in your stomach. And if you dared leave him in the car to fill the gas tank or grab a burger, he would watch you through the front window, while chewing up the dashboard like a corn cob. Seatbelts? Destroyed, along with anything else left on the seat. Open door? Out like a shot. He was a stinker, but now I understand that the root of his behaviour was anxiety and wasn’t just him being a ‘crazy dog’.


Tikka Vandoggo Vancouver Dog dodge 1957Tikka is the complete opposite to Kono, curling up in her crate to settle in for a 5 min or 5 hour ride – it’s a happy and safe place for her, even if her crate door was left open. Although she is a natural, I still follow some self enforced rules. I don’t tease her with ‘wanna go for a car ride’ until she whines or runs around. If I touch her leash or the keys and her four feet aren’t on the floor, then waiting a beat is worth it for her entering the car in a good mental state. If your dog is shy about getting in the car, try turning it into a game with treats to help convince them that jumping into the belly of the mechanical beast is a fun and exciting thing to do. Make the trips short if you are getting a new dog used to the car, building on positive experiences.

Crate training is a big help, but the big dogs I had before Tikka treated the whole car as their den, and after a few glances out the window, always laid out to have a nap. This was really handy when a move required us to fit two 80lb Shepherds and a 45lb Border Collie mix in the front cab of a U-Haul, with two people. We all found our spot and hit the road for our 2000 mile trip, a bit cramped but relaxed.

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Tikka and Boomer at Derby Reach Park, Langley B.C.


A good run around before hitting the road is a plus if your dog is wound up, young or energetic or if you are working on training issues in getting them used to the car. With a well exercised body, the mind is usually in a better place if you have an unsettled traveler.

When we arrive at our favourite park or Auntie’s house, manners are mandatory. As the hatchback opens, I have Tikka wait so that I can put on her leash, get my crap together and then she can jump out after I check the coast is clear for traffic.

Find your keys, and grab your dog, so much to get out and do…especially when you arrive ready to explore and not tired out from a devil whizzing around the car. RIP Kono….