The Cats and Culture Tour
(The article below describes the 2004 Cats and Culture Tour--for information on future tours, see the Friends of Roman Cats, where you'll find information on tours and donations.)
While researching for this article, I came across an interesting website offering a "Cats and Culture" tour, the Friends of Roman Cats.
Susan Wheeler of Friends of Roman Cats supplied us with the following details of the tour. (Note: Prices aren't yet set due to the extreme fluctuation in the Dollar/Euro exchange rate. Check the site for updates.)
The idea for our 'Cats and Culture' tour developed in part because of our appreciation for the fascinating history of the cat in Italy. Also, stray cats are treated quite differently in Italy than in the US. Italy is a no-kill nation; healthy stray cats and dogs can't be killed. We would like Americans to see how cats are cared for in such a different cultural setting, where they are accepted as part of the urban landscape.
The tour will be 14 days long and will have a maximum of 24-26 people. We will fly into Malpensa Airport near Milan and spend the first (second) night at Stresa on Lake Maggiore where we can visit the Borromean Islands on the lake. The second day we will take a bus to Cremona to see the beautiful Piazza del Comune and visit a cat Sanctuary in an old convent. We will then go to Padua to see Giotto's masterwork in the Scrovegni chapel.
We will then go on to Venice to see both the architectural and artistic sites of that unique city as well as a model cat sanctuary on the Lido and a cat colony that is maintained in one of the biggest Venetian hospitals.
After Venice, we will bus to Florence for several days. We will tour the city and visit the Uffizi and other art sites. One morning we will cross the Arno and to visit a cat colony that lives in the graveyard of the ancient church of San Miniato which looks down over the city. From the church, we will walk down through olive groves, past some little houses for feral cats to find refuge, through the city walls to the world famous Boboli Gardens. He we will go 'behind the hedges' to visit the 60 some cats that are fed there every day.
After Florence we will spend a night in Arezzo, then go on to Rome where we will spend our last 31/2 days. We will plan visits to the Vatican Museum, the Villa Borghese, visit the forum and the historic center, plus the cat colonies of Torre Argentina, the Protestant Cemetery and the Coliseum.
We are having a more immediate event in San Francisco on Feb. 22. It is our 3d annual "Blessing that Our Animals Give Us" party, which is a variation on the Blessings of the Animals event held in Italy in mid January.
The Friends of Roman Cats
The Friends of Roman Cats is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that welcomes your contributions. Their website offers some great information on the very best places to find cats in Rome (and do some sightseeing at the same time), Check the blog news page for further information on the Cats and Culture Tour.
Rome Resources on Europe for Visitors
Rome Map - Interactive Map of Rome - here's Rome condensed down to the areas most frequented by tourists, with notes on some hidden places.
Rome - Travel in the Wild, Old, Eternal City
Getting to Rome from Fumicino Airport (Leonardo da Vinci)
Palazzo Velabro - Apartments in Rome (review)