Posts Tagged ‘dogs in Tuscany’

2 for the Road = 8 Paws in Tuscany! Chapter 2

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Raja and Sherpa were welcome in Tuscany, Italy where the outdoor lifestyle and the sheer simplicity of life’s values made their presence seem pretty normal and appropriate to Italians in this dramatic and glorious countryside. Categorically, we can say, Italians like dogs, usually own dogs and aren’t surprised to see dog tourists.

What is Tuscany exactly? Tuscany is the region north of Rome bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Etruscans dominated until the Romans conquered in 351 BCE. Following the Roman Empire, city states rose, each a scrappy, contentious little citadel on a hill that both created unique, native trade goods and made jealous, little wars on its neighbors. In the 15th century, the Medici Family, rich and political, dominated; their vision and political savvy nurtured Dante, Macchiavelli, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Tuscany was the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance. In 1871, Tuscany became part of a united Italy, but roughly 75 years later suffered grievously as a major theater of WWII. Its architectural treasures were blown to pieces; its famous art looted, regained, relooted and regained, leaving the area impoverished and disassembled. In the times of local peace, Tuscany has emerged as a gentle region of famous national culture.

Raja and Sherpa, anti-war and apolitical, just want to enjoy each minute of every day and Tuscany offers ample opportunity to fulfill their travel dreams. So, first off, where did they stay and how did they get there?

Windy roads and a cozy blanket for paw traction.

They flew into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and took a rental car north. Two and a half hours, and they were in Tuscany- where the landscape changed to rolling hills dotted by little round bushes and occasional trees of two sorts, small and lollypop-like or tall and slender. And then they saw the vineyards and ancient olive groves, patched everywhere on the hillsides.

Ancient vines.


Since Tuscany champions its local culture, Raja and Sherpa stayed in a country house, a sprawling farmhouse complex repurposed into a comfortable hotel with rustic apartments, breakfast on the rose terrace, a pool that overlooks a valley that lies beneath a mountain upon which sits a castle and gardens, gardens, gardens tended by a constant gardener. Dogs are welcome everywhere. Raja and Sherpa put their paws in the pool, relaxed in the dining room, lounged under the umbrella at breakfast and rambled through the roughly 100 acres of the estate. The office advised us that the area is fenced, so they didn’t need leashes, and, oh yes, the local wild boar won’t really bother them if they don’t chase her. Hmmm… anyway… We cannot recommend the Casa Cornacchi in the Province of Siena any more highly.

A country house apartment allows for both service and autonomy. Raja and Sherpa were able to have food cooked right in their own stone farm kitchen, bought in cute, private groceries or from the ubiquitous, Coop, the regional supermarket cooperative that champions local products and local manufacturers.

So what did they do, besides stalk boar? Next post we’ll tell you about the best hill towns of Tuscany for our adventuresome duo!

Travel Dogs in Tuscany, Italy! Chapter One!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Stick close to me in Montalcino, Sherpa and don't worry.

Raja the Travel Professional decided to help Sherpa the Travel Novice put down her paws for her first overseas trip in Italy’s central region, Tuscany- famous for glorious hill towns, painterly landscapes, handcrafts, wine and, especially food! Italy is a good travel spot for adventuresome, hardy American dogs.

Why Italy?

1.Europeans often travel with family dogs in bucolic Tuscany.

2.Most Italians have dogs they are very proud of and many bring their dogs when they go out to dinner. (Yes, at nice places too, but always begging is uncool.) Hotels usually welcome dogs, but you always should ask.

3.Dogs are expected to be trustworthy and socialized in Italy, but Italians enjoy and celebrate the “dogginess” of dogs… the wagging tails, the slurpy tongues, the need to roam, the need to bark and even the assertiveness of dogs.

4.And, as we see in sculpture and painting, dogs have always been a celebrated part of the beauty of Italian life.

A display of marble dog sculptures in the Vatican Museum.


In the next blog series we are going to tell you all our fun adventures and recommended spots, but first we want to bark about a few ground rules for canine travel. Good canine travel looks easy, but the prep is enormous.

Plane Transport: Small dogs under 15 lbs. can travel in cabin on most airlines in most seasons. We don’t know anything about travel in cargo for larger dogs and we feel it’s not fair that airlines relegate large dogs to cargo. We don’t feel confident about cargo and would never have any of our dog friends in cargo. Others may disagree, but the isolation and unaccountability of cargo concerns us too much to advocate cargo transport at this point. (We’ve already written an awful lot about how to choose a travel bag, train for plane travel, buy a dog ticket from the airline and help your dog not have to pee in flight. It’s all in our archives.)

Health: Only robustly healthy dogs should embark on strenuous travel. We are not barking about dogs who have good health, but take some regular medication. We are barking against taking fragile, highly medication-dependent dogs on strenuous trips. Don’t kid yourself. Travel is for the fit and perky. It’s only fair to make sure your dog is travel healthy.

Before leaving, get a health check up from your vet. Carry the inoculation records as well as a signed letterhead letter from your vet that certifies the good health of your dog, in your own language and translated into the country’s language. (Google Translate will help you and your vet to create a pretty good foreign language translation.)

Use online search engines to research local vets in the areas you will visit and keep the list with your documents.

Sherpa loves playing in the countryside.

Bring shampoo and grooming tools and groom your dog daily. Travel creates mats and, as one example, Tuscany’s hillsides are full of burrs and foxtails. Watch out for eyes and ears. Maintain brushing teeth. Wash paws after long, grimy walks. As a style destination of the world, Italy is the place for your dog to look pretty every day.

Food and Supplements: Take all required medication or regular vitamins, treats and food (if your dog eats packaged food.) Raja and Sherpa eat home cooked stews, so they travel with a day’s supply of frozen food and a few jars of baby food to tide them over. (Note, if your dog eats home cooked, you will need accommodations with a kitchen. If your dog is an avid restaurant foodie, as Raja and Sherpa can be, plan not to be shy when asking a restaurant to make your dog some chicken and rice. After all, you’re paying, so don’t act pitiful and unentitled and feel confident requesting no onions and no salt. (Many restaurants will kindly offer you free food composed of the table scraps of other diners. It’s a thoughtful offer, but other people’s scraps are not a trustworthy source of dog food. Refuse politely. Say, “Thanks so much, but his stomach is sensitive.”)

Toys and Beds: One or two favorite toys help pass the time in transit. A favorite blanket makes a dog feel at home and is easy to pack. Raja loves these snuggle beds. They fold flat and delight him when he sees them reshaped in the hotel. Raja and Sherpa got plush boars in Tuscany. All dogs like to bring back a little souvenir.

A memento of my trip!

Water: A hiker’s light-activated water purifier or bottled water is best for traveling dogs. If you are not drinking from the tap, you dog also should not drink tap water.

Clothing and Heat: If it’s cold, your dog could need a coat or a raincoat. If the weather at your destination is hot, your dog could need a tummy shave down. On hot day trips, soaking the paws and tummy in water provides instant relief. Rome and some other Italian cities have frequent water fountains along the streets. While you can’t actually soak your dog in them, nobody would blame you for splashing a hot doggy with water from the aqueducts of the Romans. (Do not plunge your dog into the Trevi Fountain unless it’s a real emergency. That’s kind of not done… unless you really, really must.)

Harnesses and Leads: Yes, bring one and a back up. If you normally use a retractable lead, consider a short nylon lead for travel. It’s lighter and Italy’s crowded streets don’t accommodate a long lead.

We could go on, but Raja says we have found our balance between advising and helicoptering. Next blog, it’s paws on the ground in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and off by car to the lands of good food and sunshine!