Whenever I am the gorgeous city of Rome I always take time out from the world-class attractions and coffee culture to visit Torre Argentina. Set amidst ancient Roman ruins, this wonderful sanctuary provides a home for the abandoned cats of the Eternal City.
You can look down from street level and watch the cats wandering amongst Doric columns and excavated buildings. But it is always worth visiting the shelter built into the arches at one end of the sunken ruins. This is where a team of volunteers care for the new arrivals and the cats which need extra help.
Cats that Steal Your Heart
Naturally, this is an emotional experience and there are always going to be cats which steal your heart. But there was one furry friend that I met at Torre Argentina that I will never forget. I was walking around meeting and admiring the many felines when I came across the gorgeous Ravanello.
Ravanello was an enormous sandy coloured cat who was in a cage as he had only recently arrived at the sanctuary. This majestic animal had a curious nobility about him and he was wonderfully friendly. Ravanello was in fabulous condition and even a little porky, so he had clearly not been gathered from the streets of Rome. It transpired that he had been given to the sanctuary by owners who could no longer care for him.
I wanted that cat immediately and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him behind. There was just the small problem that I was in Italy! I spoke to one of the managers of the sanctuary to ask if I could adopt the cat. Unfortunately, at the time, the management did not permit overseas adoptions. One of the reasons for this was the huge costs involved in transporting the animals to another country. The charity could not afford this and, in the past, had found that people would begin the adoption process only to be defeated by the logistics.
I offered to pay all of the costs involved so that I could bring the wonderful Ravanello to the UK but I failed to talk Torre Argentina into letting him go.
The next day I was back at the sanctuary to see that amazing cat again. I made a second attempt to adopt him to no avail and was forced to come home without him. I emailed the management on my return to emphasise my interest but I never did manage to adopt Ravanello.
It must be 13 years since I met that cat and yet I still think about him sometimes. I have visited Torre Argentina in the intervening years and Ravanello was no longer in residence. He must have found a new home somewhere and I will always wonder how things turned out for him. I don’t have any particular memories of the other animals that I have met in Rome, but I will never forget Ravanello.