Traveling With My Dog; Daily Life in Italy

Italian Life
Italy draws me into it’s warmth and puts a smile on my face despite the fact that I spend my hours on the autostrada cursing in words I rarely use elsewhere. For me Italy is filled with pleasure, simplicity and insanity. It’s a country I love, and vow to never drive in again.

A Different Italian Experience; Traveling With My Dog
This trip was different than all my other Italy experiences; this time I took my dog Tanner. In case you’re thinking a little purse dog, think again… This is the Hummer of dogs; Tanner weighs 120 lbs, (54 Kilo). Taking Tanner places requires a bit of planning but it is well worth the effort for traveling with my dog.

Life in an Italian Village
For this trip with Tanner I rented an apartment, which gave me a much deeper Italian experience. For a week we lived in an Italian village on Lake Como. It was a fantastic experience (minus the hell of driving.) With Tanner in mind I chose a village that was not touristy. We stayed in a village a few minutes drive from the more touristy areas.

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Tanner on our daily walk; there were lots of hills, cobbled streets and some speeding cars to watch for.

A Great Decision.
Living for a week in an Italian village allowed Tanner and I to experience every day life in Italy. When I woke and looked out my window I could see elderly ladies going about their daily chores. I woke to church bells and heard the sound of the train which runs along Lake Como. I watched giggly children playing and watched cats find inventive spots to nap out of the way of speeding cars. Later I watched elderly ladies going to evening mass in the village church.

A Curiosity
I delighted in the surprise on Italian faces of all ages; they were intrigued by Tanner’s size and gentle demeanor. When we couldn’t communicate well we used sign language. Everyone wanted to know how old he was and what his name was; they also wanted to pet him. He made many new Italian friends in one week.

cars driving in italian village My window ledge and the cars on the narrow Italian village street.

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A family vineyard on our daily walk in the village.

Savoring Italy
Traveling with my dog and experiencing every day life in an Italian village was a great experience. We were close enough to get in the car and have lunch in a touristy village right on the water where both Tanner and I could enjoy people and activity. Yet we were far enough away that we could experience simple daily life. It was the best of both worlds, minus the crazy driving.

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Enjoying a break at an outdoor cafe on Lake Como. For more on my driving trip to Italy read Traveling Europe With a Dog.

Traveling Europe With a Dog; It’s a Dog’s World

Tanner Austria
Tanner in Wolfsberg, Austria on our drive home.

Eleven Days of Traveling Europe with a Dog
After traveling around Europe with a dog for eleven days, through five European countries I can say with authority; Europe is a dog’s world. Dogs are treated well in Europe and are welcomed nearly everywhere. I started my trip with Tanner in Budapest, Hungary. We drove through Austria, Slovenia then into Italy and Switzerland. Driving with a dog in Europe was a great experience; though one I recommend you prepare for.

Traveling Around Europe With a Dog; Trip Stats

Days Traveling: 11

Miles Driven: 1,490 (2,399 Kilometers)

Tunnels Traveled

Italy: 15

Austria: 19

Slovenia: 2

Vignette’s Purchased 3
(These are stickers that allow you to travel on highways within Austria, Slovenia and other European countries. They cost between 8 and 30 Euro to purchase.

They can be purchased at gas stations and automobile clubs. The fine for not having a sticker (which is read by a camera as you pass through toll booths) is 300 to 3,000 Euro according to the Austria info website

Number of Times I was asked for Tanner’s EU Pet Passport: Zero (Though I had everything in hand if needed.)

Average Potty Stop: 30 minutes for a walk and time to chill in the grass.

Longest Driving Day:  Over 7 hours due to traffic, an accident and constructions stalls in Austria.

Best Driving Conditions: Austria. The autobaun offers wide lanes and well marked roads and signs. Their tunnels are also well lit and labeled with the distance of the tunnel. (An important fact when you really don’t enjoy driving through tunnels.)

Most Difficult Driving Conditions: Italy, with it’s narrow autostrada lanes, high speed rude drivers and narrow village roads. Italy is high stress driving at every turn.

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Tanner on our lunch break in Hungary.

This was my third long distance driving trip with Tanner; I found traveling around Europe with a dog relatively simple, though at times challenging. It does require thinking ahead and being organized.

I recommend starting out with a short trip first; that way you learn what works best for you and your dog.  You can read about my three day solo driving trip with pets in the US.

Tips For Traveling Europe with a Dog

Have all official pet paperwork in order; and keep it with you during your travel. In Europe a blue EU Pet Passport is required. This is simply a book provided by your veterinarian which documents all vaccinations and as well as a description of your dog and your personal information. It also includes your dogs EU required microchip number and where the chip is located on your dog.

Know what your dog can handle. (Plan your drive around what your dog can accept in a day; but expect snags.)

Have treats to use as a bribe when necessary.

Carry bottles of cold water you can refill in a soft pack cooler. You will find moments when cold water might not be available or in the event of a break down on the road. (More in a later post on using a cooler pack in Europe.)

Travel with extra dog food.

Bring a rug your dog likes, many European hotels have wooden or tile floors and dogs slip easily on those surfaces.

Bring a comfort item that your dog loves, for those times he/she is alone in a hotel or unfamiliar apartment.

EU Pet Passport b

My Driving Day Dog Schedule

Though it was pretty simple, I was traveling around Europe with a dog that needs potty breaks with grass; who gets tired like a kid and who can and does get stubborn when asked to get in and out of the car multiple times a day in the heat. I kept Tanner to a two potty breaks a drive, schedule. That means we walked before the drive started for the day. Then we stopped at two areas during the drive where he could rest and potty while I also rested and got something to eat or drink. When we arrived at our destination we walked and had another potty break.

This schedule worked well, far better than the three break schedule I started with; by the third stop he wasn’t happy getting in and out of the back seat and got stubborn. I’ve traveled on the road for multiple days with Tanner solo. It can be done; it requires two sets of car keys to keep the a/c running in the summer heat, but it is always easier with a friend. This trip I drove with a friend. That really works best as you can trade off taking a bathroom break or getting food, while the other watches the dog.

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Tanner relaxing at a rest stop in Austria.

Pet Friendly Austria

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Tanner lying on his travel rug in my Austrian hotel room.

Austrians love animals and it shows in their willingness to have dogs of all sizes in their hotels and restaurants. Tanner was welcomed without reservation in Austria and loved the attention he received. Check back for more posts on our driving trip to Italy. I will share my experiences including the hair raising moments of driving in Italy. For more on driving in Europe and my Italy experiences read; Traveling With My Dog; Daily Life in Italy.

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Tanner in our hotel lobby; where he was welcomed without mention of his size.

Living in Budapest: Our Journey to Budapest

Moving overseas with a pet requires organization, USDA paperwork, patience and sometimes multiple leg journeys by car and air. This is the break down of how my dog Tanner and I arrived in Budapest.

Miles Driven 1,822

Rental Cars (4)

Miles Flown 5,518

Flights (4)

How Do The Miles Break Down?

1,140 miles, driving round trip from my family’s home in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Bethesda, Maryland to the Search Associates Recruitment Fair.

682 miles driven alone with my dog Tanner from Fort Wayne, Indiana to North Beach Maryland to my cousin Cindy’s home, and on to Dulles Airport to depart for Budapest.

jeep liberty
Our ride to Maryland

Our Flights

931 miles flown from Fort Wayne, Indiana to St. Petersburg, FL to complete the transfer of my household goods to a smaller storage unit.

Flights Missed (1)

Leaving St. Petersburg on a 6 am flight, I overslept (sleeping through two alarms) and missed my flight.

Cost…don’t ask.
An additional same day flight to a nearby city.
A one way rental car.
An additional 101 miles driven.

Flying with Dogs; Doggie and Mom Flights (2)

Lufthansa Budapest

pet airline ticket

4,587 miles flown by Tanner and I together from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Budapest, Hungary. Layover time: 12 hours to make certain Tanner got his pet rest stop for potty breaks, food and rest. (5 hour minimum required by Lufthansa Airlines.)

Moving Animals: Bringing Pets to Italy

This is my second article in a series of articles about Moving Animals. This post is for those Bringing Pets to Italy. *Disclaimer I am not an expert, though I have thoroughly researched pet entry requirements for my dog Tanner.

Accurate Information
I strive to bring you the most accurate information for moving animals; but I recommend you speak to the Embassy by phone or email to confirm that you have the most up to date information for bringing pets to Italy. Through this series I will offer you the best of what I find. Each article in this series will be slightly different, based on the information I locate.

dog in Italy

Pets in Italy
I have learned a great deal about life with pets in Italy over the course of my research. I know that pets are welcome in most cafes and are welcomed on trains, with proper documentation, a pet ticket, a leash and or a pet carrier. Pets are also welcome on some Italian Metro transportation. Rome is one Italian city that allows pets to ride with a paid ticket in certain train compartments. You will find more information about moving animals and living in Italy with your pet throughout this article.

Italian Dog

Photo Credit: Spicules

USDA Website Information for Moving Animals Abroad
The following links offer details on paperwork and requirements for transporting your pets.

US Department of Agriculture Information on Animals

Regional USDA Vets This offers an interactive map you click on to find the USDA Vet in your state. These vets stamp official paperwork for overseas pet travel.

Embassy Information

Embassy information for bringing pets to Italy

Pet Food in Italy
This is a direct quote regarding the brands of pet food found in Italy.
Multinational players Nestlé Purina Pet Care Italia, Mars Italia, Wonderfood and Hill’s Pet Nutrition remain the leading players in dog food.

Train Travel in Italy with Pets

Here are two links to Italy’s train service, Trenitalia, which allows pets to ride on board the train. One link is for the pet regulations of riding on the train. The other is for the English version of their website.

Trenitalia Pet Regulations for Train Travel

The English version of Trenitalia‘s site.

The Rome Metro With Your Pet

Animals (dogs, cats and birds) may travel on lines A and B and on the first and last carriages of the regional rail lines provided they are restrained (in a carry cage or muzzled and on a leash). A full price ticket is required. Note: Guide dogs (seeing-eye dogs) travel free.

Link to Pets on the Metro in Rome

Additional Resources for Pet Travel in Italy

Pets in Restaurants and Cafes in Italy

Information on moving to Italy with Pets.

This article from the European Consumer Center offers a great section on Train Travel with Pets

Hotels and Pensions Which are Pet Friendly
*I cannot vouch for any of these accommodations. I have not stayed in any of them. These I discovered through my research.
Siegler Im Thurm

Pet Friendly Accommodations in English

Resources on Italy

The Italian Tourist Board office in New York, a possible source of additional information.

Zap Italian a free website for learning some basic Italian

Public Transportation in South Tyrol

A website which offers great information life in Italy with Pets. Pets In Italy

Maggie in Venice is an American dog’s travel experiences in Venice.

This article covers a wide range of information on moving animals, and living with pets in Italy; I hope you will find it helpful in your move with your pets. I wish you a safe journey bringing your pets to Italy. To read other articles on moving with pets click here, Moving Animals, Taking pets to Thailand.