If today cats are part of our life, we owe it to the ancient Romans, who were the first to import this pet from Greece and Syria, as well as spreading it throughout the West during their conquest campaigns.
I was born in Rome, and this tour was born from a double and intense passion of mine: Rome and cats.
My childhood memories are crowded with feline colonies that I could meet in every alley, next to every church, in every garage.
Today the world of metropolitan cats has changed a lot, thanks to the sterilization and awareness campaigns aimed at eradicating the sad phenomenon of the abandonment of our little friends.
But why tie Rome to felines?
Well, nothing could be more logical!
Since ancient times, the Romans have adored cats, which arrive in Rome thanks to the legionaries returning from the distant provinces, more than twenty centuries ago, from Greece and Syria.
However, it is from us that - in addition to being used to hunt mice - this pet is appreciated for its affection and for its incomparable beauty.
The citizens of ancient Rome, in fact, would not have strictly needed a cat, in their domus, to eradicate mice: this task, at the time, had already been entrusted for centuries to the weasels and ferrets, which the Romans had wisely domesticated for such a purpose.
The import from overseas of this pet marks an important novelty for Romans: while, with the honest and reliable ferrets and weasels, due to the intrinsic nature of these animals, the relationship could have limited affective bonds, a full affective interaction becomes possible with cats.
Romans fell in love with this animal, able to interact with human beings, by responding with gestures and loving attitude to human's cuddles.
Findings and ancient texts tell about the cats of imperial Rome, about the love of the emperor Augustus for his cat, about the Roman matrons who surrounded themselves with cats of all races and colors, which were decorated by them with collars, silk ribbons and embroidered bibs; about centurions who decorated their shields with the effigy of the cat, and about the temples dedicated to the goddess Isis, with statues dedicated to them, as well as crowded with cats free to circulate within such sacred places.
As we have previously said, the Romans contributed to the spreading of cat throughout Europe; this archaeo-feline walk will take you to the most cat-wise historycal places, anecdotes, tales, and above all of splendid cats, kittens and real roman strays...
We will start from the Pyramid, and from the nearby Non-Catholic place of remembrance, where important historical figures rest, such as the poets Keats and Shelley, Antonio Gramsci, as well as August von Goethe, son of Johann Wolfgang, and where - recently - they were joined by the great writer Andrea Camilleri. This place is home to one of the most famous feline colonies in the capital.
From there we will reach the Colosseum, where dozens of specimens have always lived, and we will talk about the figure of the catwoman, an all-Roman character feeding the stray cats and taking care of them. Among such kind of women we will remember the most famous of the "cat-women" Italy has had: Anna Magnani, icon of cinematographic neo-realism, who, outside the set and her work with great directors, enjoied the company of her many domestic cats, and taking care of the feline colonies that surrounded his house, not far from Alberto Sordi's, near the Baths of Caracalla.
In a few minutes, from the Colosseum we will reach Largo Argentina; here is the so-called Sacred Area, an incredible archaeological area brought to light in the 1920s.
Here, according to the most credited historycal theories, Julius Caesar was killed; here, since 1929, the cats of Rome have decided to live.
Hundreds of cats found their refuge here, and are taken care by volunteers of all nationalities, roaming free and proud among the ruins and ancient marbles.
We won't miss a visit to the Marcello Theater and the Portico of Ottavia.
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If you already know this page, and if you share my passions, you may have already guessed the next stop: Piazza Vittorio, and the so-called "Porta Alchemica".
Here, in the gardens of Piazza Vittorio, among the ruins of Alexander's Nymphaeum, dozens of stray cats appear, play purr and dwell, regardless of the noise of trams, thousands of passing-by humans, and children who play and run .
A little-known , surprises-hiding place in Rome.
On the other hand, cats also speak, according to us Romans.
In Rome it is also said that cats are ready to support the gaze of a king.
Are you ready for such a challenge? I'm waiting for you!