Tuscany with pets

Travelling or going on holiday with your dog or cat in tow changes everything. A holiday in Tuscany is a perfect occasion to enjoy with your beloved four-legged friend.
Everything has to be carefully planned to take meet their needs, which are a bit different from our own. If that is your plan, there is only one guidebook you need to prepare yourself with a healthy sense of humour for the unexpected and the slip-ups: the classic and timeless “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)” by J.K. Jerome.
Nevertheless, even allowing for unexpected things to happen, this is one of the best ways to enjoy the company of our friends. Travelling with their human companions is an amazing experience for dogs, really returning to the origins of the link between our different species. Anyone who has done it will tell you: even a born and bred city dog will almost immediately pick up how to walk in the country, to keep an eye on the humans and to move as they would with a pack, discovering how to follow and sniff their way for the first time.
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Tuscany is particularly well-suited to this kind of tourism with small stages, trips from village to village, walks in green surroundings and taking breaks in squares and streets of old towns for the dogs, and the humans, to rest. The journeys are usually short, the opportunities for a rest and a snack are infinite, every street offers an array of panoramas, distractions and new discoveries.
Of course, anyone who wants to travel with their dog has to be fairly organised. It’s almost impossible to do without a car, because animals are not usually permitted on public transport. The car itself has to be prepared for travel too: highway code rules require dogs to be transported in such a way that they do not pose any risk to the driver.
You must always think ahead: you must have access to food, water and bowls at all times, either in the car or in your bag when on a walk. Also, it’s best to carry an old towel because a dog’s ability to get soaked puts any precaution to the test. A fountain, a wet meadow or a puddle is all it takes to whet a dog’s appetite for getting drenched, and a muddy canine in a car isn’t funny until you recount the tale years later.
Always remember to have a constant supply of little bags for scooping up poop; visiting a city or a monument is a beautiful experience and so it should be for the people arriving just behind us too. You should always remember that the welcome a place offers to tourists, and particularly to other animal lovers, depends very much on how polite and respectful we have been.
Travelling is also an opportunity to discover quite how widespread the love of animals is: it is quite common to be stopped by adults and children wanting to say hello and give your dog a stroke. Young and old people alike will often offer the dog all kinds of foods, and you should politely decline, explaining that they would certainly appreciate it but it might make them feel unwell.
But it is good to accept a bowl of water whenever one is offered. Dogs consume a lot of water when walking for a long time, especially when it’s hot, and they should get plenty to drink. In Tuscany, as in many other places where this kind of tourism has become popular, it is quite common for owners to provide bowls of water outside the front of a bar or restaurant, or to bring one to you when sitting at a table. It is a gesture of courtesy and kindness, as well as being great publicity for their establishment.
When visiting historic sites and museums, the strategy is to take turns to go in: when one of the travellers in the party goes in, at least one waits outside with the dog. It may seem complicated, but you will also discover so many parts of the towns and cities you visit, such as parks, streets of shop windows, beautiful squares that you can admire in a totally peaceful and relaxed way.
During any journey or trip, it is always a good idea to take a stash of the right food with you, perhaps agreed in advance with your vet. It’s not always easy to find exactly what you’re looking for during the journey, and having a back-up supply saves time and searching.
Finally, one of the essential aspects for going on a journey is to find the right accommodation. These days, most hotels and bed & breakfasts specify whether they are able to accommodate animals. Of course, it’s much easier when you are travelling with a small or medium-sized dog, and if your furry friend is calm and well-mannered.
Travelling like this can also lead to discovering unexpected things; in Tuscany, in the land of thermal spring waters, the benefits of these springs can also be available for our four-legged friends.
That’s the case at Fonteverde, the historic spa hotel in the charming Val d’Orcia, where pets are not only welcome, they even have their own dedicated spas.
Thanks to the naturally warm water from the spring, a thermal pool has been built here just for cats and dogs. The pool is shallow enough, long enough and narrow enough that they walk or swim from one side to the other. For any dog, this is not only an enjoyable experience, but a healthy one too. Swimming is fantastic exercise, and their coat emerges from the thermal pool clean and shiny.
At Fonteverde, dogs and cats also have access to everything they need from bowls to towels. In addition to luxuries, there are small, meaningful considerations that make it that bit easier to go on holiday with your best friend.
Here, animal-lovers will feel instantly at ease and can fully appreciate the beauty and charm of Tuscany.