After visiting Italy on three separate occasions with my dog, Italy is hands-down one of the most dog-friendly destinations in Europe. While the German-speaking countries have a reputation for being dog-friendly (and certainly are), in Italy there’s even more places that you can visit with a dog, including rather relaxed rules when it comes to dogs, that I haven’t encountered in other destinations. Read on to find out what it’s like travelling in Italy with a dog…
Dining Out in Italy with a Dog
You’ll have no trouble finding dog-friendly restaurants in Italy to dine at with your dog. While there are still some places that have a sign at the door stating no dogs are allowed, usually bakeries or small bars, most restaurants and cafes will allow dogs inside. Although always first check with the waiter.
Alternatively, even when we visited Italy in January and February, it was still sometimes warm enough on a sunny day to sit at the outside seats. If there’s outside seating and the weather is pleasant, the owners will usually appreciate you choosing that option.
Another alternative is to head to one of the indoor market halls in Italy, such as the Mercato Centrales in Rome and Florence. We visited both these markets with our dog. These market halls, similar to food courts, contain multiple restaurants, great for if you want to sample a variety of food, alongside one or two bars and long tables and benches. We even spotted an elderly man feeding his dog at his feet some very expensive steak in Florence!
Shopping in Italy with a Dog
We experienced no issues bringing along our dog when shopping in Italy, at least in clothing and gift stores. Additionally, unlike in other parts of Europe, even some grocery stores in Italy allowed dogs inside. We spotted this at our local grocery store in Turin. Although we were then told off when we carried our pup – the rules for this store was that dogs had to be on the floor! I guess they kept most of the edible items higher up. We also purchased some fancy Italian groceries at the Eataly store in Genoa with our dog at our side.
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Italy
Dogs are welcome on most public transport in Italy. And even if there are rules, just like many rules in Italy, they’re not always enforced. For instance, generally there’s a rule that dogs on public transport need to wear a muzzle. However, it’s usually enough to just carry one and put it on if requested, as this rule is not frequently enforced, especially for small dogs. (We were never asked for our Miniature Dachshund.) It’s also sometimes required to have your dog’s paperwork with you (the pet passport for non-locals), although we never had this requested.
We frequently travelled around Italy on trains operated by Trenitalia, the main train company. Tickets on regular regional trains are cheap compared to elsewhere in Western Europe and don’t need to be booked in advance, although book the tickets for the more expensive high-speed services in advance. Small dogs in a carrier are permitted to travel for free, in all classes of trains. Although we also took our small dog multiple times on trains without his carrier and without a ticket, especially on day trips, and none of the ticket inspectors said anything.
Larger dogs need to be on a leash and muzzled, and are restricted to certain carriages (not in Executive or Premium class, only on the platform or in the last wagon on regional trains, with no larger dogs allowed 7am to 9am weekdays). Larger dogs are also required to have a second-class half-price ticket (regardless of class). Click here for the full details.
In Rome, the official transport website has details in Italian only, stating that small and medium-sized dogs are allowed to travel on the metro, buses and trams of Rome. They are required to have an ordinary fare ticket, plus wear a leash and a muzzle, and be in a basket. (But surely not all combined?? I guess it means one or the other and it hasn’t been correctly translated.) The rules also state that dogs are only allowed on the first and last carriage of the metro, and there is a maximum of two dogs on a bus. I have a feeling though that we didn’t buy tickets for our dog when he was in his carrier bag. And we carried him at least once on a crowded tram without his carrier bag or muzzle (but with lots of pats from the other occupants).
The rules for dogs on public transport in Milan are similar, as summarised in the bottom video on this page. Only small and medium-sized dogs are allowed, they need to wear a leash and muzzle, and they require a ticket. There is no mention of carrier bags. Additionally, dogs are not allowed between 7.30 and 9.30 and 17.30 and 20.30.
If you are heading to Venice, dogs are definitely allowed on the vaporettos, the water boats that criss-cross Venice, with no ticket required. Dogs are expected to be on a leash and muzzled, although generally a muzzle isn’t enforced, at least for smaller dogs. Just be warned that the boats going up the Grand Canal can get very crowded in the late afternoon, so are best avoided, especially with a dog!
Finally, naturally the flag-carrier airline of Italy, Alitalia, allows dogs on its planes that criss-cross Italy. For pets travelling in the cabin, the weight limit is higher than normal, at 10kg, although the maximum dimensions of the carrier are quite small: 40cm long x 20cm wide x 24cm high, or up to 28cm high if it has a soft or semi-rigid top. The fee for pets in the cabin on domestic flights is €40. For more details click here. For my tips on travelling with your dog in the cabin in Europe, click here.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Italy
We had no troubles finding dog-friendly accommodation in Italy, whether it was Airbnbs next to Lake Como or around Sicily, a centrally located hotel in Milan or an agroturismo in Tuscany.
When comparing how dog-friendly the hotels in different European cities were, both Florence and Rome were in the middle of the pack, with 49% and 31% of hotels allowing dogs, respectively. However, there are a huge number of hotels and guesthouses in most Italian cities, so the numbers of dog-friendly establishments are still huge. Expect hotels to be more welcoming towards small dogs, and that that there is usually a small fee charged.
If you are having trouble locating an affordable dog-friendly hotel, or prefer staying in your own apartment, then turn to Airbnb or HomeAway. City centre apartments in Italy can be noisy when facing the street, so be aware if your dog is noise-sensitive like ours. But we found plenty of offerings, plus many agroturismo establishments are listed on these websites these days. For some inspiration, check out these affordable luxury villas in Tuscany that are all dog-friendly. Alternatively, for more details on how to find dog-friendly Airbnbs, check out my guide.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Italy
While travelling in Italy with our dog we didn’t stumble across many dog parks. But that’s not because dog parks (known as “area cani” in Italian) don’t exist, simply that they’re usually outside of the city centre, so you need to search for them (just enter “dog park” on Google) and then purposely visit them.
One dog park we did stumble across was in Naples, that city of unexpected discoveries. There’s a convenient dog park just outside the Monastery of Santa Chiara, near the Piazza del Gesù Nuovo. We also noticed that some of the parks in Milan had fenced dog runs. And I regret not heading to the beautiful Villa Borghese in Rome, somewhere I had visited on previous visits without my dog, as I later discovered it’s home to a superb dog park (called the “Area Cani Villa Borghese” on Google Maps or the “Bioparco” on Apple Maps).
When it comes to regular parks in Italy, the Italians aren’t as strict as the French, and dogs sometimes might be allowed, but not always. One example of a garden that unfortunately doesn’t allow dogs is the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Italy
Naturally, there’s also a variety of dog-friendly sightseeing options in Italy. For starters, most of Italy’s impressive archaeological remains are not off limit to dogs, something that we found was the case in Greece. While the sites in the centre of Rome don’t allow dogs (except to view from the periphery), dogs are permitted in other sites ranging from Ostia Antica (to the west of Rome) to Pompeii. And if it’s Greek temples you’re wanting to visit, head to Paestum or Agrigento on Sicily.
A dog is also the perfect companion to explore the many historic cities and towns in Italy. Wander through the laneways of Venice (just head to the backstreets to avoid the crowds), the gorgeous hilltop towns of Tuscany, or World Heritage-listed Matera or Alberobello in the south. And you’ll find some wonderful sights that permit dogs (as least small dogs in a carrier bag), such as the former Royal Palace in Turin and perhaps even a church or two. Don’t also forget the beautiful natural scenery in Italy, such as hiking (or taking cable cars) in the Dolomites.
Often details on whether dogs are allowed are only found on the Italian language pages. I often googled the name of the attraction and “cane” (dog) or “cani” (dogs), then used Google Translate, to confirm the pet rules in advance. Alternatively, for my top recommendations on sightseeing in Italy with a dog, check out my detailed guide to 11 dog-friendly options. And if you’re heading to Sorrento, check out my recommended day-trips, each of which are dog-friendly.
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