Torre Argentina: Cats among Roman ruins

By Alexandra Redisch and the stray cats in Rome

If you, like me, have a tendency to wander about new cities with no special purpose or goal, you sometimes end up at the most amazing places. Not having a defined destination is liberating to me. The goal itself is to wander and experience the feeling of being deliciously lost in an unfamiliar place. Brings me more in touch with the soul of the city itself it does.

Now, I may or may not be extremely interested in cats and animals in general. Some would say I care more about animals than humans. Ambling about in Trastevere, I spotted a stray dog searching for food in a small piazza, so I popped into a shop and bought a chicken schnitzel panini. By the time I came back, the dog was gone.

Look at the adorable little thing…

I’ve recently adopted a rescue dog myself – who, by the way, has her own facebook page and is very keen on more likes – and I desperately wanted to feed the little dog. After searching for a while, however; I had to declare defeat.

The search, however, lead me to the most wonderful cat sanctuary.


When in Rome, by all means visit the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican City. But if you want to see something different, go to Piazza Argentina and visit Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary.

Cats among ancient ruins


The cat sanctuary is located at an archaeological site, the Campus Martius, and it’s truly spectacular. The site is filled with the remains of ancient buildings and columns and all around, cats lounge about in that possessive manner of theirs. Beautiful!

I counted at least twenty cats basking in the sunshine. Even though it’s surrounded by traffic on all sides, the sanctuary is a strangely tranquil place. It felt safe, as the digs are so far below street level. No chance of getting hit by a passing car. The ruins are from 400 – 300 BC, among the oldest in Rome, and is currently the home of 250 feline friends.

Cats among the ruins, Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, Rome

Cats are available for adoption, foster care, or what the shelter calls “distant adoption” – sponsoring a cat from afar. I do the same at a cat shelter in Norway, and it is most rewarding. My cat is called Jo, and I get letters “from him” from time to time to let me know how he’s doing. I might just sponsor a kitty from Torre Argentina as well!

Cats among the ruins, Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, Rome
Where’s Kitty? How many can you spot?

Oh, and by the way – as I walked about the maze of paths between the fallen pillars and columns, I met a small black cat who became the lucky winner of the chicken schnitzel panini.

Cat eating at Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, Rome

Visiting the cats

  • The Cat Sanctuary is located at the archaeological site of Largo di Torre Argentina, on the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina.
  • The shelter is open to visitors every day from noon until 6 pm.
  • There’s a small visitors centre and shop, where helpful volunteers explain the workings of the shelter.

For more fun photos, step over to Budget Traveers Sandbox and this week’s Travel Photo Thursday.



About Alexandra Redisch

One of the kids in ‘travel with kids’, avid traveller, mystery writer, chocoholic, currently working on a WWII biography.

50 Responses to “Torre Argentina: Cats among Roman ruins”

  1. Natasha von Geldern 23 August 2012 0148 #

    How incredible, I’ll definitely look it up next time I’m in Rome!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2156 #

      Worth a stop, especially if you like cats.

  2. ItalianNotes 23 August 2012 0854 #

    Those cats look as if they are living ‘la dolce vita’, but it may just be appearances.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2155 #

      I think they’re pretty lucky cats 🙂

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher 23 August 2012 1551 #

    Thanks, Alexandra–I had heard about the cat sanctuary in Rome, but totally forgot to visit it while I was there. Had no idea it was so interesting.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2157 #

      Next time, Vera Marie…

  4. Jackie Smith 23 August 2012 1715 #

    Most timely as we will be in Rome this fall and I will put this on the must-see list!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2158 #

      I think it’s worth a stop. A very unusual and quirky place in the ancient city.

  5. Cathy Sweeney 23 August 2012 2135 #

    Like you, I love to wander around with no specific purpose in mind. Sometimes those provide the best experiences. Although I’m not a huge fan of cats, but I do enjoy cute pics of them & the Sanctuary seems to be a unique place to visit.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2157 #

      Whether one likes cats or not, they certainly are photogenic, aren’t they…

  6. Jarmo 23 August 2012 2237 #

    I love just walking around cities at random, you’re right, it’s more about the journey. Thou that destination is cool, love finding cats when I travel 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2159 #

      I seem to stumble over cats everywhere, too. Love it.

  7. Adam 24 August 2012 1338 #

    This is one of my favorite things to do in Rome—I think it’s so cool that it’s been around for such a long time. It’s a great local initiative in Rome!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2200 #

      It really is a different kind of animal sanctuary. Animal welfare and ancient history in one place, how great is that?

  8. Leigh 24 August 2012 1632 #

    How cool is that! They look very much at home and the one that got your sandwich was certainly the lottery winner of the day. A fun post to read.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2200 #

      They do look quite content, don’t they?

  9. Angela 25 August 2012 1911 #

    I had noticed there were many cats, they are lovely 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2201 #

      They are 🙂

  10. Kurt 26 August 2012 2112 #

    Roman ruins and a cat sanctuary. A great combination! A great cause.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2201 #

      Sure is!

  11. Abby 27 August 2012 0038 #

    I loved reading about this santuary! I have two dogs former street dogs who have changed my life.

    • Marnie Byod 28 August 2012 0459 #

      Oh Abby, I can relate to you well.
      I love adopting dogs as well. When I see dogs on the streets and no one owns them, I’d bring them at home and let them be with me.

      • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2202 #

        Kudos to you both!

  12. Marlys 27 August 2012 2152 #

    We’re not cat-people, but it always warms my heart to see how people can be so kind to animals, who, after all, can’t defend themselves and are totally dependent on humans. Our next dog will also be from among the abandoned.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2202 #

      Glad to hear it.

  13. Mary @ The World Is A Book 28 August 2012 0957 #

    What a wonderful find! I love how they seem to be part of the ruins and the landscape. It’s a great place for a cat to be in Rome.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2203 #

      It really is, especially considering the heavy, erratic traffic in the city. They’re well protected here.

  14. Andrea 28 August 2012 1137 #

    Awww – a lovely home for them! We have a rescue kitty, though she is really just the neighbours’ cat who seems a little neglected. We brush her and give her attention (and the occasional treat).

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2204 #

      Glad to hear you’re taking care of her 🙂

  15. Victor Tribunsky 28 August 2012 1822 #

    One more point for visit in future trip to Rome. Thanks. Photos are very good.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2204 #

      Thanks, Victor.

  16. Ana O 28 August 2012 2251 #

    Many cities have a cat sanctuary but I think Rome’s is special because it’s among ruins 🙂

    • Ana O 28 August 2012 2254 #

      Oh I forgot: I was attracted by the title. At first I thought it was about my country! LOL! The country’s name means silver or of silver in Latin. I wonder how the tower got its name.

      • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2207 #

        Well, it seems it’s named after the French city Strasbourg, which used to be called Argentoratum in Roman times. Surely there must be some connection with silver in Strasbourg.

  17. This is a very unusual and fun find you came across! I’m another one that enjoys just wandering. As shown here, you never know what you’ll come upon.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2208 #

      So true, Debbie!

  18. D.J. - The World of Deej 29 August 2012 0226 #

    Love this post…We were in the cemetery in Paris once and a group of people were all standing around watching this cat. I walked up, the cat stood up and walked up to me and started rubbing on my legs…My wife has called me the cat whisperer ever since cause it happens all the time…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2235 #

      My mum always said animals can tell who are good people…

  19. Titi 30 August 2012 0012 #

    Sweet kittens! Your shots are all so adorable, I am a huge fan of cats, so I bet Rome would be the perfect destination for me! Thanks for sharing this nice and cute article!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2238 #

      You’d like Torre Argentina then 🙂

  20. Penny Sadler 30 August 2012 1539 #

    Oh my goodness you must read my post about cats,,, you’ll see why. I love Rome.
    Piazza della Penny
    on Adventures of a Carry-on

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2239 #

      Will hurry over 🙂

  21. Zoe French 31 August 2012 2008 #

    The cat sanctuary in Rome is really amazing–not just to see them all slinking along these super old ruins, but because of the work that the team there is doing to help control the cat population. Plus, free tours of the site make it even cooler!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2240 #

      They do amazing work there, don’t they.

  22. InsideJourneys 1 September 2012 0349 #

    400 years? I would have thought cat sanctuaries were modern inventions. Pretty cool!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2240 #


  23. Nick Lewis 3 September 2012 2243 #

    What a wonderful place. We have been to southern Italy many times, Sorrento to be precise and there are quite a few strays there and we came up with the theory that they come in on boats there, hopping from coast to coast like little Sinbads!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 September 2012 2240 #

      I like that theory 🙂

  24. Penny Sadler 10 September 2012 2312 #

    Oh now I remember yes you have been to Rome! 🙂

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