Largo Di Torre Argentina

The Eternal City offers stunning renaissance buildings and spectacular Roman ruins everywhere you turn. Visitors flock to the city year round to marvel at the architecture and few miss out on a visit to the Coliseum and the Forum. Many travellers are not, however, aware of the Largo di Torre Argentina, a beautiful square in the heart of the city just a short walk from the lively shopping area of the Via del Corso and the famous Piazza Venezia. The square hosts some impressive Roman ruins and is a site of major historical significance but is most notable for its many feline residents.

 

The Cats of Rome

Rome is home to over 300,000 felines living feral lives in over 2000 different colonies across the city. Cats are a common sight in Rome even at many of the landmark attractions with plenty of the locals loving the animals and feeding them regularly. The cats were highly valued by the citizens of ancient Rome for helping to reduce the impact of the plague by killing the vermin which hosted and transmitted the disease.

Torre Argentina

The magnificent square sits well below the current street level and had been buried for hundreds of years before major excavations were started in 1929 when demolition work uncovered the remains of a large statue. Torre Argentina is the site of four Roman Temples and a section of Pompey’s Theatre which is where Julius Caesar is believed to have been assassinated by Brutus and his associates in 44 BC. Tourists visiting the area cannot enter the ruins but must view them from the streets above.

Cat Sanctuary

To one end of the excavations there is a cave like area which houses a cat sanctuary currently looking after over 250 homeless animals and seeking to place them in new homes. Most of the cats are not of feral origin but are rather domestic animals which have been abandoned or donated to the sanctuary. Some of the cats have serious medical and behavioural issues and live permanently indoors, whilst many roam the ancient ruins freely. Every day many of the animals can be seen exploring the ruins and relaxing on the ancient architecture by the  tourists above.  Cat lovers are able to descend a short flight of steps to visit the sanctuary and to learn about their work whilst meeting some of the inhabitants who can be seen playing with toys and balls of knitting yarn. This is a truly moving place which does valuable work for the cats.

Sadly the future of the sanctuary is now threatened as some of the city’s officials believe that its position amongst the ancient ruins is inappropriate and may cause the spread of disease. The demise of the shelter would be a great shame as somehow the cats really seem to belong amongst the ruins and they do not interrupt anyone’s enjoyment of this historic square.

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