First Time On Surviving In Italy?

Your First Time Here? STOP. This is mostly a humor blog. If you’re offended easily or struggle with sarcasm or irony you should skip my website and watch this instead. Also, I swear ALL THE FUCKING time and ramble on about the capybara. You still there? Winning! I’ve Put Together Some Of My Most Popular Posts For You To Start With:

LIFE IN ITALY

21 Ways To Survive Being An Expat 

Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

Christmas In Italy 2013: The Time The Blowdryer Ate My Mother-In-Law’s Head

13 Things That I’ve Learned From Marrying An Italian Man

17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy Or Homicidal

Italian The Hard Way

10 Reasons That I’m Surprised That Someone Married M.E.

In My Husband’s Family, Leaving The Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten A Child 

TRAVEL ITALY

Dining In Italy: How To Avoid Making An Ass Of Yourself

Rome With Rick Zullo

Travel Bologna With Sarah Dowling

5 Steps To A Non-Conventional Night In Florence

A Weekend In Chianti

Vacation Apartments In Florence: How To Overcome Writer’s Block (Or Just Hang Out).

MOVING TO ITALY

Moving To Italy: Studying And Living 

Frequently Asked Questions: Jobs, Immigration, Circumcision, Love

31 Reasons You Would Be Better Off In Italy

How To Move To Italy

 

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Dog Boarding, Adoption, And Dog Parks In Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio

I’ve written about Oliver, my poodle, a number of times on this blog. Most of you know him as the neurotic, adorable, asshole that he’s matured into over the years. I really like him, despite the fact that he’s taken a dump on. my. bed. recently as an act of biological warfare in retaliation for being left alone for a few hours. I love dogs and I enjoy writing about them; deep down (or not so deep, really) I’m a crazy dog lady.  I know that a lot of you (especially you, Sid) are crazy dog people, too, and since a lot of my readers have just moved to Italy or are planning on it one day, you could probably use a dog guide of sorts AND our dog sitter in Florence wanted to sponsor a dog guide so everyone wins (and I get approximately 5 bottles of wine). So, ta-da! Here is a mini guide to having a dog in Florence, Italy. Please share all of your favorite dog-related info in the comments below and I’ll add it to this guide. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of things.

Let’s start with housing. “Do most apartments allow dogs?” is one of the most common questions people ask me here. From my experience, finding an apartment that allows dogs is fairly easy. We’ve lived in four different places with Oliver and nobody so much as batted an eye at him. Not even the psycho landlord who lived below us while going through a divorce who often screamed, “I’m going to kill you!” into the phone at all hours of the day and night. If he allowed dogs, probably everyone does. It’s a good idea to tell your potential landlord up front that you have a dog before you sign any papers. It’s also a good idea to say things like, “He’s extremely good and mentally stable,” which is a lie in our case but it works.

As I’ve mentioned in posts like, A Table For 2 1/2, Sir, or Growing Up In Italy: A Dog’s Story, Florence is extremely dog-friendly. They can go most places with you. A few exceptions of places they can’t go: grocery store, movie theatre, hospital or the Farmacia. Just look for a sign. No sign? They can probably go in then. So, it’s pretty unlimited in the fun things you can do with Fido. One of our favorite things to do with Oliver is to take a nice stroll through the city center, some shopping, and maybe a coffee or some lunch/dinner. Most of the retail assistants know his name and allow him to run chaotically through the store to play because Florentines are for the most part super dog-crazy. There are always the exceptional assholes but they usually live in the country with the scary Italian hillbillies (yes, those exist, it’s like The Hills Have Eyes meets La Dolce Vita).

Dog Parks: 

If you want something more dog-specific, there are a number of dog parks in the city. Most of them have separate areas for large and small dogs. Keep in mind that a lot of people don’t fix their dogs so if you have an intact male, you might want to avoid other intact males. Intact males can be more territorial than their neutered counterparts. People will often scream to you when you enter the park, “IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL!?” in an attempt to segregate the area. I’m waiting for the dogs to catch on and start a movement.

Our favorite is a fenced dog area in Campo Di Marte right next to the stadium. There is also a park for children which is nice if you have kids. Oh, and they totally also have outdoor workout equipment that is badass so you can get all hot and sexy while your dog acquires real estate with his pee.

Pick up your dog shit, guys. Don’t be nasty! In the summer make sure your dog has plenty of water. Many businesses will have water bowls out for public use (but there’s always a chance of your dog catching a cold or respiratory infection with public drinking bowls).

Any dog parks that have been left out here that you love? Tell everyone in the comments below!

Adopting A Dog: 

If you’re interested in getting a dog I’d recommend first asking yourself these five questions (FRANCESCO!):

1) Can I afford a vet emergency that might cost me hundreds of euros (and happens at least once in your dog’s life)? Can I afford HeartGuard every month and preventative for leishmaniasis (it’s eventually fatal but can be treated for a long time. It’s common in Italy). Can I afford vaccinations, training classes, and a pet deposit for apartments? Dog sitting, boarding, or air travel? What if your dog has skin allergies, develops diabetes, or goes blind?

2) Can you devote 15 years to a pet? Dogs live for a long time. Small dogs live for a REALLY long time. Oliver is like the Noah of canines and will probably outlive me just to really be a dick.

3) Do I have TIME for a dog every day? They need training, playing, toilet breaks, walks, and professional grooming? Some breeds must have professional grooming monthly (aka poodles) and require hair trims, nail trims, ear waxing, anal gland expressing, etc. What about when you have children? Will you still have time to balance a needy infant and your Terrier who has skin allergies and separation anxiety?

4) What if your dog develops behavioral issues? Do you have the patience to spend one hour every day toward fixing his/her issue? Many dogs will regress if there is a change in their environment. Can you re-potty train if for some reason your dog decides at three that going outside is no longer cool? What if the suddenly develop a weird thing with vomit and they bite you every time you get too drunk and barf? This sounds like I’m making a joke, but it happened with Oliver. What if your dog is like a Bonobo Chimp and humps things constantly in response to everything that happens in his life? Can you handle the constant embarrassment of your dog raping stuffed animals during dinner parties?

5) Do you know anything about dogs? How to train them (positive reinforcement is the most affective and professionally recommended but also the most time-consuming), how to keep them healthy and mentally engaged? Do you have the time and willingness to learn all of these things which can take hours, and hours, and hours, and weeks, and months? I adopted Oliver after working with dogs for like 10 years and he still exhausts me.

If you haven’t given up on ever owning a dog after this list then yay! You’re ready for a dog! Please consider adopting a homeless dog. Italy has a problem with dog abandonment. Come August every year a number of selfish assholes just let their dogs go on the street. The owner wants to go on vacation and realizes stupidly that they didn’t make arrangements for someone to watch their dog. So, they just throw them out for the city and private sanctuaries to deal with. Rescue dogs are perfectly good dogs, they’re usually already potty-trained, and they are waiting for a second chance at an awesome life with someone who isn’t a total jackass. If you’d like to adopt a totally badass dog who is homeless or abused because some people are terrible people, here are some sites you can check out. In Italy there are hundreds of thousands of dogs in shelters and Italians rarely adopt these dogs. Most of them live their entire lives in the shelters that are understaffed, and “for profit.” I’ve read some disturbing articles on the horrible conditions of these shelters. So, really, consider adoption if you’re open to an adult dog.

If you’d prefer a puppy then you’re a bad person who definitely won’t get into heaven. Just kidding. If you’re going to go the puppy route, be prepared for teething, potty training, and hours upon hours of training and patience galore. Please, avoid pet stores or puppy mills for both genetic reasons and to avoid contributing money to shitheads. If possible, find a nice family who just happen to have a litter and isn’t breeding their poor dog to death. I’ve had both rescues and Oliver who we got as a puppy from a friend who responsibly bred his bitch, Sheena, (by bitch I mean she’s a huge jerk) and while puppies are PUPPIES (amazing and smell like heaven), my rescue dogs were easier (no potty training!) and I loved them every bit as much. Plus, I got to relay their depressing stories at the dog park, note how I saved them, then bask in the glory of being such a good person. Oliver, on the other hand, is more embarrassing because I accidentally created the monster that he’s become. The only card I can play is, “his mom is named Sheena, she has a bang-scrunchy, it’s obviously genetic.”

Animals Up For Adoption 

Adoptions OIPA

Union Friends Of Dogs And Cats

Animal Shelters Tuscany

Have you adopted a dog or cat in Italy? Share your story here and please tell people where you found your little fuzzy sidekick.

Dog Boarding And Daycare In Florence, Italy

One of our largest struggles with having a dog in Florence is that there is not the plethora of dog sitting services that I was accustomed to in ‘Merca. Sure, you can find random ads taped to walls in the laundry matt, “Dog Sitter!” with little phone numbers you can tear off in the bottom, but I’m not really a fan of leaving Oliver with people who don’t have a legitimate business. I tried, once, and not only was I anxious the entire time but the person we left him with was not at all experienced with dogs which became more and more apparent when we picked Oliver up and she said, “He didn’t like to be left without you. He whined a lot. I can’t watch him if he whines.” Of course he whined, he didn’t know you AND your house smells like Turtle. He knows a serial killer when he sees one.

We found Florence Pet Sitting randomly online in like 2012 after suffering a torturous year without someone to watch Oliver. We filled out the contact page on their website and waited to hear from them. Later that day the owner, MaryAnne called me to learn more about Oliver. She asked a ton of questions. It was nice to have such a lengthy conversation with her because I felt like she actually cared about understanding my dog more than just landing a client. The chat was also a nice opportunity to get to know both MaryAnne and her super sweet Italian boyfriend who co-runs the business with her. MaryAnne was a vet tech in the US before relocating to Florence which is awesome because she knows what to do if for any reason Oliver ingests something weird, and I was super excited that she spoke English because all of Oliver’s commands are in English. Watching our groomer scream, “basta! BASTA!” to our clueless dog was painful enough, I didn’t want to leave him for hours with someone he couldn’t understand. We used MaryAnne a number of times, he was always happy to see her, and always came home in tip-top shape. Many of my friends use her, too, and they all love her.

MaryAnne began Florence Pet Sitting in Florence years ago. She was originally based out of her apartment in Santo Spirito, doing in-home sitting, dog walking, house visits, and all that. She recently expanded and opened a new facility that I’ve heard is totally badass (sadly, I haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but soon!). The new place is in a renovated workshop located in the historical district of S. Spirito, in the Oltrarno. The entire facility is open to pets, no cages, no dog runs, with 24/7 supervision. They can nap on beds and couches or hop around with their newfound fuzzy friends. Every dog gets a locker for their own food, toys, whatever, which is super cool. Florence Pet Sitting also offers relocation services, walking, in-home visits, daycare and boarding. The rates are very fair, especially for Florence where I’m convinced most of the pet sitters are actually leprechauns and will pretty much charge you your first born and a pot of gold. One thing that I really love about MaryAnne is that she sends photos and updates constantly which I need because I’m a worst-case-scenario panicky person when it comes to my dog. Also, when we pick up Oliver she gives a full rundown of his entire stay which is fun and nice to hear. My one complaint is that she gets booked up super fast and Francesco and I are terrible planners. Try to book as far in advance as possible (I’ve found that at least five days is best) but for holidays play it safe and book a few months out if you can.

If you’re looking for a professional, English-speaking pet sitter with over a decade of dog experience, who also has a website (magical in Italy), and who will keep you constantly updated via email, text or Whatsapp, contact MaryAnne.

Veterinarian Services:

Our vet was located in the Statuto area and it was one of the 24/7 places that have a bunch of vets working all the time. Their service was good, and convenient, but I didn’t love that there was always a different vet and at every visit we had to spend 20 minutes going over Oliver’s history. However, it is awesome that they are always open and they’re not that expensive. We took him to a few different vets for specific issues but were never insanely blown- away with anyone so I’m kind of useless in this area. Who would you recommend?

English Speaking Vets In Italy

24 Hours Vet Clinic

Other Useful Pet Information:

Best Pet Shops In Florence

Moving Pets From The US To Italy

Dog Training With Victoria 

Related articles

*This mini-guide in progress was brought to you by Florence Pet Sitting.

Have a business that’s totally badass? Interested in advertising on Surviving In Italy? Shoot me an email and we can chat.

What To Expect When You Travel Abroad: How To Mentally Prepare In 11 Steps

Obviously when you travel to another country you know that things are going to be different. You’ve most likely read about your destination, you’re excited, you’ve packed, booked tickets and learned how to say a dozen words or so. If you’ve done any research you know the food will be different, you know you’ll find different art and different houses of worship, but have you mentally prepared for the other things? The things that nobody prepares you for. Those things are the ones that travelers don’t always prepare for and those are the things that will often make or break a trip. What can you do to mentally prepare for your vacation abroad?

Napoléon Bonaparte by Andrea Appiani (1754&nda...

Napoléon Bonaparte by Andrea Appiani (1754–1817) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Get rid of the notion that you’re country is number one. This is important for everyone, but especially those of us from the United States. No other country has accepted that their country is inferior to the US. Everyone takes pride in their own country for one reason or another. If you go abroad expecting to get treated like a God because you’re from ‘Merca, you’re trip is going to suck. If you want to enjoy your trip, leave your ethnocentrism at home, and accept that all countries are equal in their differences. And please, try to avoid saying things like, “We saved your ass in World War II,” because not only do you sound ignorant, you also sound like an asshole.

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You’re Either Smoking Crack Or You’re In Love: Happy Anniversary To My Husband

Five years ago I met this twenty-five year old hot boy in Florence, Italy. Two years ago today I married him, the love of my life, the fuzziest of fuzzies, the yin to my yang, and the classy latin accent to my failing eloquence. These two years have seemed like a million..Wait, no, let’s start again. These two years have went by so fast that it’s hard to believe that we’ve already been married for two years. I know what all of you are thinking who have been married for like 20, you’re thinking, “two years isn’t shit, girl!” And you’re right, in the scheme of things it’s not that long but it’s about celebrating the little steps, right? So let’s celebrate! Two years down and sixty+ more to go (depending on whether or not he starts to help around the house more, otherwise it could be any day now). Everyone help me out with a big, “Happy Anniversary Francesco!” And give me whatever marriage/relationship advice you’ve got in the comments below! Who knows, you could probably save my marriage one day.

And now, the sappy part, guys. I really lucked out with Francesco. He really is my best friend, and is such an incredibly tolerant partner. He’s a great husband, despite his inability to clean up his nail clippings and fallen chest hair that peppers our home, and he somehow always puts family first. He effortlessly puts  our relationship before his own needs or his pride, puts our dog before himself, and puts me on a pedistool that I totally don’t deserve to be on (and after wine it’s just plain dangerous). I know I tease him a lot because I suck at feelings but he’s a badass and I love him. As part of his anniversary card, here is a digital promise to keep trying to be better for him:

Dear Francesco,

Thank you for putting up with me. Remember today when you were all, “I’m so happy I married you two years ago,” and I screamed, “HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT ON THE WALL!?” Then you ran away and left me to die. It’s a good thing that I was just trying to scare you because that would have been an embarrassing thing to explain to your friends, that I died because you abandoned me. Remember when you were being romantic and I tried to scare you? And then you were scared? Either we’re both smoking crack or we were made for each other. And also…thank you for laughing when I ruin romantic moments. Thanks for being supportive and always being there for me. Thank you for being exactly the opposite of me in every way so that I could find balance. Thank you for only showing mild concern when I have long conversations with myself in the kitchen, for kissing me every morning before you leave the house, and for being completely and totally immune to my sense of humor that people either get or are totally terrified of. Thanks for not finding me repulsive. Oh, and thank you for letting me buy whatever I want this week in preparation for our trip to NY. And thanks for finally letting me have Dwayne*.  I’ll try to be a better wife this year. I’ll be less naggy, unless you force me to do it then my promise is null. I promise to cook more and take more interest in Italian politics because I know it’s your favorite. I promise to be less neurotic and to work on saying normal people things around your friends and family. Except for Fusco and Leo because they don’t care and have grown immune to my blabbering. I promise to always try, never give up, and never become “too comfortable.” I’ll do my best to love you, forever, until my brain gives out and I forget who you are, or until I die. I hope I die first because I can’t imagine not knowing you. Plus, I feel like I’d also quickly forget about pants and get arrested for indecent exposure.

Til death. Forever, and ever, AND EVER. -ME

*Now you have to let me because everyone read my gracious acceptance letter.

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Total Tuscany Interviews M.E.: How Many Inappropriate Things Can I Say In One Podcast?

The awesome guys from Total Tuscany asked me to do a podcast and I gladly accepted because I love their stuff and really enjoy embarrassing myself publicly after having a cocktail (or ten) for lunch. I’m pretty sure that I’ll win an award for saying so many captivating things during one interview. You can find the podcast with M.E. on their website Total Tuscany. We cover a lot of ground during this podcast like my favorite things about Italy, what drives me insane, and threatening public masturbation. Let’s make this a drinking game. Take a sip (or a shot) of something every time I swear, say “camel-toe, unicorn, Capybara, or baptism,” or anytime Travis or Pat are audibly regretting their decision to interview me. In all honesty, it was so much fun, I love these guys and their awesome website. They do great podcasts that are fun and informative with expats I absolutely love. If you enjoy the podcast go ahead and share it with your friends (or use it as an opportunity to talk with your kids about the dangerous of drinking).

As with everything on my site, this isn’t kid-friendly so put on some headphones before you give a listen if you have little ones around. And also? Be happy that you’re not me, or not married to me (Francesco will be sainted, I’m pretty sure).

Italian Bathrooms, The Bidet And How To Have A Sparkling DownTown Area

Hey guys! So, this is a C.O.S.I Post about bathrooms in Italy and bathroom related things. Don’t forget to check out what everyone else has to say about the bidet, bathrooms, and bathroom humor on my COSI page. Want to join us? Leave a comment on the page saying so and we’ll get in touch!

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about The Bidet.

When I have visitors from outside of Italy I know it’s only a matter of time before one of them shyly asks about that thing in the bathroom that looks like a sink on the floor. “It’s a bidet,” I tell them. They’ll move closer, as if they’re about to disclose a secret, “Weird! So, uh, how does it work?”

A toilet (left) and a bidet (right).

A toilet (left) and a bidet (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
Let’s start with the first part of the reaction that the bidet is “weird.” I’m not sure that there is anything less than AWESOME about having a sparkling clean vagina twenty-four-seven. SPARKLING, CLEAN and it feels, GREAT. Don’t even get me started on how awesome the bidet is for men, especially the hairy ones whose asses could very well belong on a baboon. I’m pretty sure that most men, without a bidet, leave what could only be described as a murder scene of doody in their whitey-tities (why can you not operate toilet paper!?). The bidet is your friend, guys. It’s your friend. Don’t have a bidet? Get one! Seriously, best investment ever. When I’m in the US I feel totally icky without one of these things around. I’ll never understand why they haven’t become more popular in the US. I promise, once you’ve used it, you cannot go back. 
 

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17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy And Possibly Homicidal

Italy is a beautiful country and there’s absolutely no denying that. However, when you live in Italy for a while there are certain things that can take some getting used to, and some things that you’ll never get used to, and those things will make you insane. A friend of mine refers to expats in categories based on how well-suited people were to move to Italy in the first place. I’m not exactly sure which category I’d fit into because honestly I can identity with pretty much all of them. There is a part of me that is the Hopeless Romantic: I’ll always love and appreciate small things like bright flowers against stone buildings, entire families sitting down to wine and dine, and old women, widows, in black strolling the streets together. I’m also a Snob: Living in Italy because it’s just classier and a little more “cultured.”At times I’m the Adventurer: I love Italy’s close proximity to other parts of the world. And then, for many months out of the year, I am the Ren-Fair expat. The Ren-Rair expat is a word that my friend coined that means, “renaissance fair” expat, an outcast, quirky but also creepy, bitter, and a little bit insane (to be honest that’s kind of me even in the US…so….

For the Italophiles out there, you’re thinking, “oh no! Not me! If I had a chance to live in Italy, oh boy! I’d enjoy every minute of it!” And you know, you’d probably enjoy most of it but then something totally crazy will happen that can only happen in Italy and you’re suddenly like, “I NEVER WANT TO SEE PEOPLE AGAIN! FUCK THIS PLACE!” Then you don’t leave your apartment for a week except to walk your dog while you hiss at people who pass you on the sidewalk. It’s part of living the immigrant life in a country that could not possibly be more different than most other places on earth. So, here is a list of reasons that Italy might make you (temporarily or permanently) insane:

1.You function best with rules, order, and structure.

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