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.




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!



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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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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