The World’s Coolest Cat Santuary 

I have had many illusions shattered since moving to Europe, but this is my favourite. We North-Americans have absolutely no concept of history. We treat our monuments like holy relics because we have very little history to claim. There is nothing that could replace something like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa or the Washington Monument because we don’t have anything else like them. Therefore, we come to Europe with expectations of how history is revered, protected, and preserved. While this is true in many cases, sometimes it’s not even in the realm of consideration.


So I came to Italy with my North American expectations, strengthened by 5 months of National Trust experiences in the U.K. I looked at a ruin and expected to see something; an ongoing archeological project with great minds and brilliant students working to preserve it and learn from it. A museum experience like those at the Roman ruins in Bath and Trier. It took me a while to rationalize what my brain was looking for and what I was actually seeing.


The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina in Rome encompasses the remains of four temples that were uncovered during demolition work in 1926. About 20 feet below modern street level, it is overrun with plants and is not accessible to the public even though there are walkways placed for navigation. It is uncurated, messy and dilapidated. It’s one of thousands of other similar ruins in decay around Italy. There is nothing truly unique about this site other than the cats. That’s right, cats!

This cutie one has 3 legs but was running around without a problem.

It is home to an entire colony of cats cared for by a sanctuary located inside of the ruin itself! The sanctuary, Torre Argentina, is open from noon – 6pm every Monday to Friday. Adoptions take place every day from noon to 5pm. All the cats are fed, sterilized, and vaccinated by the sanctuary and allowed free reign over the ruins.


These ruins are the ultimate cat climbing structure. There are tunnels, walls, pillars, pedestals, and platforms for them to climb and bask on top. There are trees that provide them shade and patches of long grass where you’ll find cats sleeping if you look closely.

You can watch the cats play from the street above as they chase each other through the ruins. You can also visit the sanctuary and play with the cats and even adopt one of them! However, you may find yourself with some furry friends if you are there long enough. The cats often wander outside of the ruins to play with people who are hanging out nearby. So if you want to take a very relaxing break from walking around Rome, grab a lunch to go and enjoy it beside the ruins while you play with the kitties!

One local man spends a great deal of time with these cats. He has named many of them and they come when he calls them. These are not your normal street cats, they are well loved locals themselves.

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