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Cat Sanctuary--Torre Argentina (Rome)

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Sep 7th, 2005, 09:49 AM
  #1
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Cat Sanctuary--Torre Argentina (Rome)

A couple of posters have asked about things to do in Rome. Maybe you all have talked about this before, but here's a post anyway: I HIGHLY recommend a visit to the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary for anyone who loves cats. It's easy to find: Largo di Torre Argenina is just south of the Pantheon; the entrance to the cat sanctuary (go down the steps) is at the SW corner of the archaeological site. (Which, incidentally, contains three visible and one invisible--under the street--Republican era temples, very interesting.) Silvia, Lia, and the volunteers who work at the sanctuary are lovely people, and there are hundreds of cats living in that one city block. You can pet them if they'll let you. (The cats, that is. ;-) They keep them healthy--I've never gotten ringworm or anything.) I've been visiting the sanctuary every trip to Rome since 1996, and the good news is that every year the sanctuary receives more press and more awareness from travelers and the community. When I first discovered it (by accident) they didn't even know if they would be allowed to stay there (because of the archaeological site, gov't wanted them to leave). Now things are looking good, and lots of adoptions are made. You can adopt long distance if you don't want to take a kitty home with you. Check out their website: www.romancats.com. They also sell t-shirts now, and gift items, with proceeds going to the sanctuary's upkeep. It's a great cause! I don't have kids but I suspect that those who do would want to take the kids, they'd probably love it.
 
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Sep 7th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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How nice to publicise this, thank you. I've walked past many times but never realised one could visit & contribute. I will certainly visit the next time I'm in Rome.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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I believe the sanctuary is open every day during the late morning and early afternoon. I can't recall exactly. Warning--you will want to bring home a kitty--or many!
 
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Sep 7th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Thank you for posting, caravaggista! I have seen that website before, a while back. I didn't realize that one could visit the sanctuary, as I mostly defiitely would have during my previous trips to Rome! I am a cat lover and I so enjoy seeing all the cats in Rome! I have many photos of cats that I took in the Colloseum and the Forum, and right now I am looking at my "Gatti di Roma" cat calendar that I purchased on my last trip.

Thanks again!
Tracy
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Sep 7th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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I passed by this spot many times, but didn't realize you could go down to enter the sanctuary. We will make sure and do it this fall. Thanks!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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I should point out that visitors are not allowed to go into the archaeological site proper and visit the temples (only the cats can do that)--what you will be able to visit is the underground room(s) where the cats live. (or rather, they go in and out) There's a "nursery" (where the kittens live--awwww) and an area where the sick cats recuperate, etc. A volunteer will show you around and tell you all about their work there if you ask, but you are also welcome to just look around on your own. The cats are very photogenic, so bring your camera! Last time I was there (2004) they had a table set up for purchasing gifts, t-shirts, cash only accepted. You can buy things off the website too, and sign up to adopt long distance on the website if you aren't planning a trip to Rome any time soon.
 
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Sep 7th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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I was talking to one of the women there a couple of years ago and she told me the story of the cat sanctuary.

Years ago an archaeologist working on the site slipped them a key so they could go down and feed and care for the cats.

And slowly they unofficially took over that section of the site .
And every 6 months or so the City of Rome sends them an eviction notice, which they and the City both ignore .

It's nice to see that what started as a few caring people feeding and tending the strays is now getting such wide attention. Regards, Walter

p.s. The sanctuary is in the invisible temple that Caravaggista mentioned which is 'Temple D' ~2C-BC.
Julius Caesar was assassinated ~35m away behind Temple B in the rear section of the Curia Pompey whose foundations can be seen today from the sidewalk.
Click-on my screen name and find my 'Julius Caesar Assassination' post for the exact location.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 11:26 AM
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Another Roman history buff! *beams* Bits of the Theater of Pompey are in the cellars of various restaurants and shops in the area, but I don't know which ones or whether they can be seen. Do you, Walter? I wanted to find them 2 yrs ago when I was there, but couldn't get any information.
A couple of years ago--getting back to the cats--the Torre Argentina sanctuary, in cooperation with other groups, organized the first-ever Cat Pride parade, with animal lovers marching from the Colosseum to the Capitoline to raise awareness for animal rights.
These folks do GREAT work!!
 
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Sep 7th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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During our week long stay in Rome for Christmas 2002, our family visited the Cat Sanctuary everyday. We would make brief stops passing through the area and even spent an hour or more there on Christmas Day. We did go down into the sanctuary as well. Visiting the sanctuary was a highlight for my 10 yr old son. He took so many pictures of cats during our trip that we made a very nice photo album of cats we saw on our trip, cats on vespas, sitting amid ruins, in windows, sleeping in interesting spots, etc. It's a special memento of our Italy trip.

Most of the cats are very friendly and you will want to take one home. We could have dropped off my younger son at the sanctuary everyday to volunteer and he would have been very content.

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Sep 7th, 2005, 01:48 PM
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I once read some interesting research done at the Torre Argentina sanctuary, about the "agonistic and copulatory" behavior of male feral cats in a large colony. The researchers found some interesting differences from the expected pattern: Where male feral cats normally fight each other almost to the death over a female in estrus (and the winner monopolizes the queen), that pattern didn't apply here. The conclusion was that because in this colony adequate food for all was provided consistently, that was likely the reason the males fought much less and the females mated polygamously.

As I write this, my cat Tobermory is on my lap, wondering, "What's all this about mating?" (He was neutered young.)
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Sep 7th, 2005, 04:05 PM
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Caravaggista, Yea, especially when it comes to the Roman Forum and Julius Caesar I'm a bit of a history buff .

I think the restaurant you're looking for is called Pancrazio. I've never eaten there because I'm allergic to expensive food, medically termed 'Cheapskateitis' .

I was on a tour with Tom Rankin (founder of Scala Reale) in that area (the restaurant was closed, he was going to try to get in downstairs) but on a whim he popped into a small shop nearby the restaurant.
This shop was just a large stall that looked like it sold lumber to local contractors. So nothing fancy just a small warehouse.
And sure enough the walls were still faced in 'opus reticulatum' and were part of the theater. So bldgs above and below ground level in that area are part of the theater.
Scroll down to Pancrazio on this website
http://www.theaterofpompey.com/audit...ertoday2.shtml
And the last 3 photos here were taken in the restaurant
http://www.theaterofpompey.com/audit...s4/index.shtml
Regards, Walter
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Sep 7th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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@Walter: Haha, if the restaurant in question is expensive, no wonder I didn't run across it. I too suffer from Cheapskateitis. Thanks for the links!
 
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Sep 7th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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I read on another site that it's open from noon 'til 6:00 p.m. I'll be in Rome at the end of the month and definitely plan to go there!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:00 PM
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Susan P--Have a good trip, and please report back on the furcats and everything!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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I'm allergic to overpriced food, but not allergic to well priced excellent food. As a result of that I've eaten three or four times at the above mentioned Pancrazio. It is a very nice restaurant -- but is more expensive than a pizzeria or sandwich shop.
I have visited the cellars and I've also seen people come to the restaurant and ask about taking a peek. I've even seen staff members politely tell them to have a look even though it was clear they weren't eating there.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Cats are not only around Largo Torre Argentina and the Colusseum. You can find lots of cats also in the garden of the villa on top of the Palatine Hill. Years ago I was with my dutch friend visiting the place and there comes a GATTARA, one of the women that feed daily these cats, with some food and we saw lots of cats coming out of nowhere and eat what she had brought. Some were beautiful cats, some were lame. She told us that she was retired but she would spend a good part of her monthly retirement salary to buy food for the cats or bring medicines to cure them. We ended up gaving her 20.000 liras (about 10 euros currently) to help her.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:59 PM
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See, here in the US I'm just a crazy cat lady. In Italy I could be a GATTARA--sounds much more worldly!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 08:36 PM
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smalti, I will definitely report back!

suziem, I will probably need a whole role of film just for the cats! My pictures of Christmas morning at our house always include more of the cat playing in the wrapping paper and boxes than of people...

Caravaggista, If you click on Walter's screen name, you will find all sorts of interesting information. He gives us all kinds of great historical information.

I realized after I posted earlier that the site I got those hours from was Torre Argentina's own site, so they should be accurate.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 12:05 AM
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As Caravaggista says above,
www.romancats.com

Or, unrelated to Rome or to travel,
www.mycathatesyou.com
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Sep 8th, 2005, 09:06 AM
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Found this excerpt in the 'DK Rome e>>guide' Guide Book c. 2005.

In the Art & Architecture section:
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina-
These four Roman temples, dating from as early as 3rd century BC, were discovered when the area was cleared for re-building in 1926. You get a good feel for the place wandering at street level, but to get up close and personal, you’ll need to get a permit. Try not to trip over the stray cats that are cared for by the feline sanctuary in the same piazza. (www.romancats.com)

Details for the permit:
Write to: Ufficio Monumenti Antichi e Scavi (Via del Portico d’Ottavio 29, 00186 Roma) stating when you’d like to go, how many people in your party and whether the visit is for work, study or tourism.

SusanP-besides the extra film, you might want to pack a lint brush! There was one persistent kitty who would hop on any available lap. He was actually rather cranky when you had to leave.
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