Cities Oddities

Bringing Ruins to Life at Rome’s Cat Sanctuary

Rome dabbles in time travel. Thousand-year-old ruins rub shoulders with modern high-rises, and the stones of ancient buildings are incorporated into the foundations of newer edifices. And at the Largo di Torre Argentina, dozens of cats bring an unexpected dose of life to the grassy ruins where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE. The gatti di Roma have found a welcoming home at Rome’s Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary.

At the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina, just a few minutes’ walk from some of central Rome’s most famous sites, visitors gaze out over the sunken ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina, where temples and a theater once stood. Dotted among the ancient columns and toppled stairways stroll upward of a hundred feral cats. These are the cats of the Torre Argentina.

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A small flag at one corner of the ruins marks the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. Walk down the stairs and you’ll find yourself in the company of felines. They sun themselves on the outdoor patio, where you can pet the most social of the bunch. Inside the sanctuary, meet the cat lovers who feed and care for the animals. Here you can learn more about the program, buy shirts and other souvenirs, or make a donation to keep the cat sanctuary running. There’s an adoption program as well, as well as a “distance adoption” program that allows you to donate funds to a particular cat and receive news and photographs in return.

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Christine Sarkis likes cats and loves travel. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

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