Italy

Dog-Friendly Italy: Travelling in Italy with a Dog

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…

Need a helping hand from a local while travelling with your dog in Italy? Read about Prontopia and how they can help out

Travelling to Italy with a Dog

The same rules apply for taking a dog to Italy as for other EU countries. To find out the requirements if you are travelling from outside the EU, click here. If you are already in the EU, a microchip, pet passport and valid rabies vaccine is required.

If you’re flying to Italy with a dog, note that Alitalia is one of the few European airlines that permits a dog plus carrier weighing up to 10kg in the cabin, rather than the standard 8kg, Although the maximum carrier measurements aren’t any larger.

Note that when you leave Italy with a dog, if you are flying to a non-EU country, an additional step is required.

Exporting a Dog from Italy

When cats and dogs fly out of Italy to a non-EU country, the Italian government requires that you pet has a Pet Export Certificate. This includes pets flying to the USA.

You firstly need to obtain a certificate of good health from a local veterinarian. Then within 48 hours visit the local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale), who will check your pet’s health and rabies certificates and issue an export certificate, for a small fee. For full details, see this US embassy website.

The US website states the export certificate is valid for only 6 days, but I’ve also heard it’s valid for 30 days. The US website also states that your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies in the last year, but normally the 3-year rabies vaccination is recognised in the EU.

I don’t have personal experience at obtaining this certificate, as I have not flown out of the EU from Italy. This requirement does not apply when flying out of other countries, such as France, something to keep in mind if you’re considering where to fly out of Europe.

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.

Enjoying a seafood feast in Sicily on a sunny winters day

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!

Schnitzel eyeing up the offerings at Mercato Centrale Firenze

Shopping in Italy with a Dog

Shopping for make-up with your dog in Italy

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.

Delicious displays inside Eataly in Genoa

Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Italy

Enjoying the winter sunshine on the Cinque Terre, easily accessed by train

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.

Schnitzel taking in the views from our train in Sicily

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.

Exploring Venice with Schnitzel

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.

Enjoying the terrace at our Airbnb on the Cinque Terre

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).

The rules at a park in Florence

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.

While you can only view the Colosseum from the outside with your dog…

…dogs are allowed inside Ostia Antica

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.

Beautiful scenery 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.

Inspired? Pin this to your Pinterest board!

Italy Dog-Friendly Travel

You Might Also Like

20 Comments

  • Reply
    Cher
    June 12, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you, this was very helpful! I am taking my dog to Tuscany this summer and will try to find nice activities that allow him to tag along.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      June 13, 2019 at 10:04 am

      Great to hear Cher, have a lovely time!

    • Reply
      christel
      November 27, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      I live in Vancouver BC and go home ( Denmark) twice a year with my boy.We also go to Milan and Lugano.I was thinking of extending and going to somewhere other in Italy,where would you recommend ? I love Rome so would be 1st but Ive been there..Any others? Thanks for this blog love it Christel

      • Reply
        Shandos
        November 30, 2019 at 7:28 am

        Christel – Last year we visited the Dolomites region near the Austrian border and loved it. There’s plenty of hiking, or dog-friendly gondolas if you’re like us! The Lake Garda region is also very pretty and I would love to spend some more time there next time we visit Italy. Verona is a lovely small city to explore for the day too, although like all Italian cities there’s not much grass. Also, if you’re visited in the winter months, I recommend considering Cinque Terre. In summer it is far too busy to visit with a dog, but in winter it can still be beautiful when there’s a sunny day. Just get some information from your hotel or Airbnb on what restaurants are open. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Pam Taylor
    August 5, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    This was very helpful! I will be traveling with my emotional support animal and service animal next year and I am worried about how this is going to work. Nice to know once I get there, I should have zero issues.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      August 6, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Glad to help! Your service animal should also be allowed in additional places and not be charged a fare on public transport, although I know the requirements for service animals to be recognised differ from country to country. Also note that emotional support animals aren’t usually recognised in Europe, except for on selected airline flights, but with these generous rules for all pets, that shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Reply
    Kristi
    August 31, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you so much for all the excellent info! I go to school in Europe and have traveled all over with my medium-sized little girl; I think Scotland’s probably been the most dog-friendly, with Austria/Germany a close second… But the only place we’ve had any issues has been Belgium. My question for traveling in Italy: I traveled around Italy a couple’ve times before I had my dog and I recall there were a lot of strays or “community dogs”; these guys were very friendly with humans but seemed territorial with one another (e.g., at Pompeii… Where, for the record, I wouldn’t attempt to bring her 🙂 ). Did you encounter any strays, and if so did you have any issues, and if not do you think they’d’ve had issues with a larger, non-portable pup? Any and all advice will be much appreciated!

    • Reply
      Shandos
      September 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

      We came across stray dogs in southern Italy and Sicily, plus in Romania and Bulgaria. I wouldn’t be too concerned about them. They are quite timid when humans approach them or raise their voice (I think they often are hit). They wanted to play with my dog, and seemed sad when he wanted to bark (small dog syndrome), rather than angry. But always keep an eye out and i recommend keeping your own dog on a leash.

      Thanks for the tip about Scotland! We also found it wonderful. And Italy is also very dog friendly, enjoy!

  • Reply
    mikela
    September 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I was wondering how is it with dogs and museums in Italy? I have a chihuahua, and we always travel in a carrier. I would also have her in her carrier when in museum, but I don’t think they are allowed?

    Love your blog, best, Mikela

    • Reply
      Shandos
      September 30, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks Mikela! Unfortunately dogs are still generally not allowed in museums in Italy, but always check. A few museums do allow small pets to be carried or in a carrier, or small museums might be kind and bend the rules. I’ve also found this to be the case in Germany and Estonia.

  • Reply
    Barley
    November 2, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Something we learned about buying dog tickets in Italy. You can not buy a stand alone dog ticket. You must buy people and dog ticket all at once.

    Trenitalia Regional train- buy people and dog tickets at either kiosk or window. No advantage to buying in advance. Must buy people and fig ticket at once. Dig is 50% off.

    Trenitalia High speed trains. When we purchased our discounted tickets online, then attempted to buy Barley’s tickets in Florence, it took an hour. I think there was a problem opening up a non refundable reservation to add a dog ticket. So advice is to go to train station ticket window and buy reduced price people tickets along with 50% off full price fare at same time for dog. Often, the dog fare is more than a supersaver economy fare.

    ITALO
    Avoid. We purchase tickets from Milan to Bologna, and read that a dog ticket was 50 Euros but couldn’t be purchased on line. When we went to Italo window to buy dog ticket, we were told you can not buy a dog ticket with a discounted or economy fare. They told me I’d have to buy a new first class ticket and then call a number to buy the €50 dog ticket. So purchased a trenitalia ticket with dig ticket for €61 two weeks before travel.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      November 7, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Barley – Thanks so much for letting me know about this. I’ve done this in other countries such as France (where you need to buy the extra dog ticket even for small dogs), and had assumed it would also be possible in Italy. That’s terrible to hear about the conditions with Italo. I’ve heard praise from other people for their pet service, but it is very expensive!

  • Reply
    Kim P
    December 27, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    We are heading to Italy with our pup tonight! Did you find any particularly delicious and dog-friendly restaurants and bars in lake como?

    • Reply
      Shandos
      January 2, 2020 at 10:20 am

      Kim – Sorry about the late reply, I’ve been having a break over Christmas. I can’t recommend any particular places (I remember we had a delicious meal on one of the main squares, but don’t remember the name). But most restaurants and bars should allow dogs, so just take your pick and ask at the door!

  • Reply
    Jen
    February 18, 2020 at 6:57 am

    Thanks very much for the information… super helpful. I’m planning travel to Italy from the US but having trouble finding the information for return from vacation from Italy with my dog. I’ve read about pet export certificate being needed. Do you have information or know how to go about obtaining this before a return flight home? Do you know if it is difficult to obtain from the ASL office? Thanks so much.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      February 18, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      Jen, I’ve been meaning to put together some information about this from some people I know who have done it (as I haven’t done it myself). I recommend joining my FB group, Dog-Friendly Travel RTW Community and asking there. I’ll be home with my laptop also in a couple of days, so will try and source the information then. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, it’s a confusing process!

  • Reply
    Monica
    May 30, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Thank you so much for all the information provided! We are planning to move to Italy later this year and before finding an apartment in Italy we were considering renting an airbnb for a couple of months, however we do own a cat and were wondering whether this would not be a problem finding any place to stay with our cat. We do understand, that all of this information is based on a pet dog, not a cat, however would by any chance you happen to have or know any information regarding staying at airbnbs in Italy with a cat? Are hosts or owners generally more accepting towards dog pet stays and do they mind cats as pets? Thank you so much for any provided information in advance!

    • Reply
      Shandos
      May 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      Monica – This isn’t an area that I’ve kept a close eye on, but I’ll try and help. There are some pet-friendly Airbnbs that only allow dogs (or small dogs), but there are plenty of other listings that don’t stipulate anything. I would contact the owners and check in advance if they allow cats. There are plenty of pet-friendly listings in most of Italy, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble, particularly if you’re looking for a longer term rental.

  • Reply
    Anna
    September 24, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Hello. I’m so happy to have found this site. I will be retiring to Italy full-time next year and can’t wait to share my life there with my pups. The many lovely strays I saw in Sicily broke my heart. I’m hoping to connect with a rescue group in the Catania/Siracusa area to find homes for those precious angels once I’m living there. I will live in Tuscany, but will spend loads of time in Sicily. Any recommendations of rescue groups in Sicily would be appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Anna

    • Reply
      Shandos
      September 25, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Anna – I love your plan! Unfortunately I don’t have any details of rescue groups in Sicily, but I’m sure there are some and they will appreciate your help.

Leave a Reply