If you’re planning a honeymoon in Italy and you want to give your special holiday time an urban tilt, the choices are easy: Rome, Florence and Venice are definitely best bets for a romantic vacation. Take in one or more of those cities, then rent a luxury villa for a few days, add some great Italian wine and you’re set. But what if you’ve got four legs, whiskers and a tail – what if, in other words, you are a cat? Just as sometimes it can be helpful to cross a distant horizon to get a clearer sense of what lies right before you, so too can it be useful and fun to put yourself in someone else’s shoes…or paws…to find a new perspective on a place you thought you knew.
Who, after all, has not been inspired by the sight of a multiplicity of motley-colored cats ambling about the fallen columns of the ancient Roman Forum? Our feline friends seem to have a perpetual field day with the open-air archaeology of the Eternal City, and we’d like to think it’s more than just the quest for a field mouse that keeps their tails in the air. It stands to reason that some of the cats who make their home in the ruins of ancient Rome are descendants of the Roman Emperors’ cats. A cat in any other city is just a cat, but Rome’s cats have lineage. And yes, Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf, not a cat, but today a cat can roam freely around Rome with little fear of being tackled by a wolf. Or a dog, for that matter.
Another fine place for a feline is Florence. The city’s myriad piazzas and dusky byways have a unique charm that is in a way cat-like: a bit mysterious and austere, yet resolutely on the soft side. Cats like to explore and they don’t like to swim, so the Ponte Vecchio makes the less touristy Oltrarno quarter even more attractive for cats and those who, like us, are inspired by them. Another city that brings out the cat in us is Catania. Why? Alliteration aside, it is vivacious and not widely known by tourists, and therefore it is utterly fitting for this Sicilian city to be subject to closer inspection and exploration by cat.
But what about Bologna? Wouldn’t a city with nearly 50 miles of colonnaded arcades also be considered prime cat country? Absolutely. Plus, with all of Bologna’s great restaurants to consider, there is no end of feasts to be had, fancy and otherwise, in this great capital city of the Emilia-Romagna. Speaking of food, and cats, it’s also necessary to consider what kind of food cats like best, and that is probably seafood. Making Venice, at least in culinary terms, a great Italian cat capital. What cat could resist La Serenissima’s savory cicchetti, the small side dishes that are often seafood-based and served in wine bars throughout the city? And naturally, we ask is there a cat alive that could resist the siren song of Piazza San Marco, not only a vast and (like the cat) noble space, but also one often awash in a sea of pigeons? Look out birds, cats may be cosmopolitan creatures, but they’re still tigers at heart!
Tigers are the most naturally stylish of cats, and with all due respect to Rome, and the amazing Roman mosaics that you can see in museums in Naples and Rome that depict those proud exotic creatures, this makes us pause. And brings us to perhaps the very best Italian city for cats, a northern city and yes, we’re talking about the city of the catwalk: Milan. Silky, fashionable, feline, that’s Milano. What cat could resist a walk on the hottest roof in the land (that of the famous Duomo)? And who could say no to a power lunch next to the likes of Donatella or Dolce and Gabbana? And of course, you could have nine lives and still be enchanted by the divine Last Supper.
Note: No cats were harmed in the research of this article. What is your favorite cat name – in Italian?