Love Rome? Love cats? Then make sure you stop by the Largo Argentina and see the Roman Cat Sanctuary.

What? A cat sanctuary amid the ruins of Rome? Yes.

Largo Argentina is located in a square just off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II between Chiesa Gesù and Chiesa Sant'Andrea della Valle. Walking along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, you can't miss the tall columns of the four ancient temples sticking above street-level amongst the trees.

Given that the ruins are located some 20 feet below street level, the columns must be 40 feet tall. But this post isn't about the ruins themselves; this post is about the cats who call Largo Argentina home.

Look down at the ruins. As you're amazed at seeing these 40-foot tall 4th century B.C. pillars, you may notice a few cats asleep in the grass:

then one or two asleep besides an ancient ruin:


then one or two asleep on top of an ancient ruin:

Or some just walking amongst the ancient ruins:

Located down the stairs at the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina is the Torre Argentina Roman cat shelter. In 1929, excavation began in the area of Largo Argentina. It is also when stray and abandoned cats began seeking refuge in the protected area below street level. Up until 1994, the cats were cared for by "gattare", a not-so-nice term the Romans called the women who fed the cats.

Then in 1994 three women together tried to care for the ever-growing population of abandoned cats in the cave-like, damp, underground ruins with no electricity or water. Finally in 1995, they were able to enlist the help of the AISPA (Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals). Through the help and teachings of the AISPA, the women began to collect much needed charity donations, at first by simply asking the multitude of tourists who were more interested in the cats than the ruins. As word spread about the shelter, more and more people, including high-ranking military and diplomatic persons, generously donated their time and money.

This no-kill cat shelter is home to over 250 homeless felines. The shelter is run completely by volunteers who feed, clean and take care of the cats. Visitors are welcome to stop by between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to tour the shelter and browse through the CatShop.

Read more about the shelter, how to donate, volunteer or adopt a cat (either in Rome or via long-distance) at their website at http://www.romancats.com/.

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