The Cats of Cinque Terre 

Meow.


We were expecting to see cats everywhere in Rome, Italy.

We were thoroughly disappointed that we did not manage to see any in our first days there, walking through the ancient ruins. My travel companion came to Rome more than a decade ago, and he assured me that he had seen plenty of cats everywhere, living and napping amongst the ancient ruins. He also said that he knew he would be back to Rome together with a woman, one day in the future. I thought that it was such a romantic thing to say, and do.

But there were no cats in Rome. Pouf!

Okay, we finally found a few, just as we were to give up.

Catnap in the piazza
I’m shy: Now you see me…

It was an entirely different situation in Cinque Terre, the five impossibly beautiful small towns dotted in between mountains and perched on the Ligurian coast. There, the pretty and purrfect Italian gatti were at their photographic best. In each of the five towns we were in we found great experiences, some gatti accompanying us on the wild trails leading to and away from the towns, other gatti walked beside us in the pouring rain, guiding us between the narrow alleys between houses to beautiful vantage points.

The cats made Cinque Terre more picturesque than it could possibly be, with their almost femme fatale charms, their impeccable poses coupled with the amazing small-townscapes, this, all this made my 4 days there seem like an impossibly beautiful dream. Here they are, now.

The touristic photo cat: I think I look good surrounded by these souvenirs, yes?
The cat without a home: My home is a donated pannier along this nature trail.
The guesthouse cat: welcome welcome
The drinking cat: I want to continue drinking from my bowl but there is a tourist taking a photo of me.
The church cat: This is the driest spot I think.
The boss cat: When lady boss is not here I take over.
The boss cat: May I help you?

There was also a dog, Leo.

In the ‘Heart of Cinque Terre’ where we lived, exactly mid-way between the second and third town of Corniglia and Vernazza, we shared the abode, a modernized shepherd’s cottage, with Leo. Leo was adopted from a Serbian shelter for mongrel and abandoned dogs, and would surely not be here today if not for our house owner’s rescue efforts. And in return, Leo saved his life, by jumping once into his lap to stop him from driving right into a road where there would be a landslide from the unstable mountain soil. Leo has great determination to live, and he saved mine, we were told, on the first night we met our charming owner and his loyal pet. Leo is a famous hero now, having appeared on many television networks in Italy and having been bestowed awards upon because of his bravery. Despite his celebrity status, he was 100% dog, and loved welcoming us back each day after our time away from him, by placing his muddy paws on our laps.

Leo in the terrassse.

The writer is still experimenting with black and white film photography. She will definitely use all the film rolls purchased, for her next trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Bali, Indonesia. She and her travel companion chose to visit Cinque Terre in Italy, after looking at a photo of one of its towns that was posted up on an online social media network. This was probably one of her best irrational travel decisions made in the entirety of her travel moments.