So, paws on the ground, what is expected of a four footed tourist roaming the famous sites of Italy? Raja and Sherpa will fill you in:1. Behavior: The Italians don’t expect their dogs to behave any better or worse than they do. So, decorous bruskness is requested when walking the streets. But (and Raja did find this rather lenient) if you need to bark at a pigeon or even another dog, go ahead because people like a little feistiness in a dog about town. Just no fighting or biting… well, as Sherpa adds, you may lunge at pigeons because nobody likes them anyway.
2. Restaurants: Dogs may enter most restaurants, even very nice ones. Nobody will bat an eye. Waiters compassionately will bring water in an enormous bowl, big enough to bathe the dog. Try not to put your foot in it under the table. Raja reminds you that there may be several dogs in a small restaurant. There is no need to be loud. Just curl up on your family’s backpack and relax.
3. Hotels: Most hotels will accept dogs. Why not? Where would your dog stay if not in the hotel? And yes, they may walk through the lobby. They may bark in the lobby. They’re dogs, right?4. Peeing: The Italians are not shocked by a dog being normal. Unprotected monuments like the outer wall of the Pantheon are fair game. Why not? The dogs of Rome used the wall and the temple’s still standing.
5. Wineries: Yes, dogs may accompany you on wine tours. Italian wineries are not a drop-in businesses. You will have to book your wine tour and it will be both a little more expensive, and a great deal nicer than American wine tours and tastings. Ask politely if you may bring your dogs and the winery representative will tell you elegantly that it’s OK. Do carry small dogs in your tour of the caves. Nothing can prepare the West Coast wine affectionado dog for the ancient, mouldy-musky, possible bat-lurkingness of the cellars of Italy. (Read Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” to prepare your expectations.)
Raja and Sherpa want to send a bark out to their two favorite wineries in Tuscany:
Vinamaggio, in Greve, Tuscany is just about the most gracious villa and winery imaginabale. (Do not neglect to book a tour of the grounds so you can hear the secret story of Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa portrait. Yes, your doggy may tour the grounds and hear the story too.)
Avionesi, an elegant wine estate near Montalcino. Both ancient and innovative, Avionesi practices innovative agriculture and welcomes dog guests without fuss.