When you see Rome’s famous wolf statute, you may think this Italian city is dog-friendly. You’ll be right. Ancient Romans honored the wolf –the ancestor of modern dogs--because they believed she help saved Romulus and Remus, twins who later founded the Eternal City.
Although Rome welcomes dogs, you and your pet must meet certain requirements to visit if you’re arriving from the US. For details about passports, pet health certificates and more, visit the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy. Also, ask your veterinarian what your pet needs for safe travel.
Editor’s Note: Check out these tips for pet travel by plane before your make your travel arrangements.
When you’re ready to travel, try these parks, hotels and attractions.
Hit the Beach
If the weather’s hot when you get to Italy, plan a trip to Bau Beach. Italy’s first dog beach is a great place to let your furry friend run, play and swim. Located west of the city, in Maccarese, it requires that you register your dog and pay a small fee for admission and drinking water. He doesn’t have to be leashed as long as he is non-aggressive and obeys voice commands. (See more Bau Beach regulations here.)
A few general rules about Italian beaches:
Carry your dog’s vaccination certificates and other papers with you. Also, check before you go; some beaches are closed to dogs between June and September.
Take a scoop and doggy waste bags with you, in case they’re not available.
Unless you’re sure water is provided, carry fresh water and a bowl for your pet. Pet sunscreen and an umbrella or shade tent are recommended and may even be required at some Italian beaches.
Take a Walk in the Park
Rome’s many public parks are ideal for dog walking. At Villa Borghese, you’ll find the Borghese Gallery, an important art museum; a zoo and a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. While dogs can’t enter the buildings, they can enjoy the park’s lake, fountains and gardens with you.
Villa Doria Pamphili, a large, landscaped park in the Monteverde quarter of Rome, is home to a villa from the 17th century. Dogs aren’t allowed inside, but they can walk, jog or just hang out with you in this so-called “secret park,” which is often overlooked by tourists.
Popular Villa Ada, in the northern part of the city, boasts a lake and recreational area for dogs. Thanks to its jogging and exercise facilities and beautiful trees, it’s very popular.
Many smaller parks are scattered throughout Rome’s neighborhoods. Some offer open grassy areas while other have wooded trails.
Where to Stay with Your Dog
Hotel Victoria, in the heart of historic Rome, lies across the street from Villa Borghese. Request a pet-friendly room in advance.
Dog-friendly Hotel NH Collection Roma Vittorio Veneto allows guests with small dogs. The hotel overlooks Villa Borghese park, so it’s a good base for walking around the city, sightseeing and shopping.
The four-star Best Western President Hotel, in the center of Rome, allows small dogs with some restrictions. Contact the hotel for details.
Although the Crowne Plaza - St. Peter’s Hotel and Spa has limited pet-friendly rooms, there is a dedicated dog area in the garden, and it’s within walking distance of Villa Doria Pamphili.
More Places to Go and Things to Do with Your Dog
Take the steps that lead down to the banks of the Tiber River and splash around.
Travel by rail. Small dogs in carriers, with the proper documents, can accompany human riders. Dogs of any size can travel in designated cars, if they are muzzled and leashed.
Take your dog when you feed the pigeons in Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s busiest and most beautiful plazas.
Walk your canine companion around St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Pope Francis often greets visiting dogs during his general audiences.
Visit the Trevi Fountain, the famous street known as Via Vittorio Veneto, and other public sites with your pet.
Finally, you may want to pack your dog’s favorite foods or treat before you travel to Italy, just in case you can’t find what he usually eats while you’re enjoying all that delicious pasta.
Lynn Coulter is owned by two rescue dogs—Molly and Miss Paws—and occasionally blogs at LynnCoulter.com. She’s also the author of three books and a freelancer who writes about travel, gardening and more. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta, where they cheer for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and spend their money on dog biscuits.