The feral cats of Rome … Torre Argentina
In 2001 my late friend Douglas and I spent one month in Italy. We wrapped up our last three days in Rome. We had enjoyed four days there at the beginning of our adventure so I figured there wasn’t much left that we hadn’t seen.
How wrong I was. Douglas remembered an interesting spot from a past visit and we headed toward Torre Argentina. This is considered a sacred area and it was excavated in 1929. It is the very place where Caesar was murdered in 44 BC.
It felt so strange to see this immense below-ground area containing authentic parts of Rome’s earliest temples. Gazing from above you get the feeling that history is playing out before your eyes.
The public is not allowed into the ruins so I was a little shocked to see movement in the shadows below. Then it occurred to me…these were the feral cats of Rome. They live in the cave-like excavations under the streets. For years they were fed and protected by the “gattare”, the most famous of which was the Italian film star Anna Magnani.
Now, since the mid 90’s, the Torre Argentina has become an official Cat Sanctuary. It is a no-kill shelter and is literally over-run with homeless cats lounging on the ancient ruins. Volunteers feed, spay, neuter and protect the cats but I noticed that the ordinary citizens passing by seemed to show little interest.
You would think that the people of Rome could at least thank the cats for keeping the rodents at bay ... but I guess the cats have the last laugh ... they may bask in ancient temples, but, unlike Caesar, they won‘t be killed.