I never realized how much we exclude pets from our lives in the United States until I moved to Italy. I can’t speak for all of Italy because I definitely know that the south is a little less dog friendly than the north, however, in Florence dogs are treated like part of the family and it’s fucking awesome. If you’re going to have a dog it’s a lot cooler to have a dog with you than to leave it home for 14 hours every day because they are banned from the world for various anal-retentive American reasons. I didn’t even want a dog. A lot of you already know the story of how Oliver came to be: Francesco surprised me with a “puddle” named Oliver for my birthday, exactly 10 months after we had been dating, on our first month of moving in together. Let’s just say that it was weird timing. I was terrified and thought it was too soon but he assured me not to worry because dogs are “exactly like plants.” Who knew? When he brought Oliver home I instantly fell in love with him. He looked exactly like a teddy bear and had a really unique little personality that reminded me of myself: Stubborn and obnoxious. Awe! Francesco took a while to warm up to him because he was overwhelmed and surprised that our little bundle of puppy joy needed more than sunlight and water.
Our little monster developed separation anxiety because I work from home and he just wasn’t left alone enough when he was young. And why would he be? In Florence dogs can go pretty much anywhere. It’s easier to list the places they can’t go than the places they can because that list would be exhaustive. The negative side of this is that for the past year we’ve had to get a dog sitter anytime we go out because Oliver screams like he’s being murdered and our landlord lived under us. And he was insane. He spent hours on the phone hysterically screaming at his ex-girlfriend and subsequently trashing his apartment. I didn’t want to piss him off with my screaming poodle.
Dogs In Florence Cannot Go:
In the grocery store.
In the hospital.
In the Farmacia.
However, with the exception of the grocery store I’ve seen people bend the rules for the other two places. Even I have taken Oliver into a medical clinic before when I had to have one of my lady boobs looked over. We offered to leave him in the car but the nurses glared at us like we were assholes so he was able to chill with Franny while an old man felt me up.
We take Oliver to nice dinners with us. We take him into bars on nights we’re not planning on going overboard. It’s obviously not safe to drag your poodle around Florence while wasted. We put him in the basket on our bikes and cruise all over the place. It’s awesome. What makes it even cooler than dogs being allowed in Dolce And Gabbana is the way people in the street treat dogs. When I’m in a hurry it can be irritating how much people will dote on Oliver. I’ll be running for a train and old men will be stopping me to rub his head and sneak him a treat. In the butcher shop they’ll cut a piece of steak for him. The coffee shops all know his name and many keep treats behind the counter for their canine friends. In the summer on days when it’s hot and we have Oliver out with us, store owners will come out on the street and ask if he needs some water. They’ll return a few minutes later with a doggy bowl and water. Seriously, it seems like every business in Florence has a doggy bowl.
I haven’t been everywhere in the world but so far Florence is the most dog friendly place I’ve ever been and you can see it in the happy pooches trotting around the city in their little outfits, the many dog parks, and the cobblestone that is often covered in crap down alleys and outside of the center. But hey, a little doody is worth having your puddle with you during your anniversary dinner, or when a dog sitter and prozac just isn’t available for your neurotic poodle.