Area Sacra - Largo Argentina, Rome
If any of you are interested in seeing something off the beaten path (the beaten tourist path that is) in Rome, try checking out Torre Argentina, a cat shelter in the heart of the city. http://www.romancats.com/ They are situated on the ancient ruins near the Tower of Argentina (Torre Argentina) in the heart of the city, near the Pantheon.
Two Italian women just started taking care of all of the abandoned cats that were dumped there in the ruins and over the years they developed a full fledged cat shelter. All of the cats are sterilized and vaccinated and every effort is made to adopt them. A lot of vets in Italy don't want to sterilize animals, but this shelter has found one that is sympathetic to the cause and sterilizes all of their cats at a low cost. They are doing great work and can use all the donations and volunteers they can get. The city tried to get rid of them for a long time, but so many tourists wrote letters asking that they be allowed to continue their work that the city has allowed them to stay.
So, if you are interested in something that not every tourist in Rome sees, go down to the cat shelter. You will also get to see ancient ruins (4 of the oldest temple ruins in Rome are on this site), and a lot of Roman cats!
A few hundred stray cats inhabit the Area Sacra, that is why the locals like to refer to it as the Cats Forum. Some of them are really sweet, and it is possible to pet them. They not only walk in the forum, but also on the square around it.
The four republic era temples - conveniently called temples A, B, C and D - were discovered during construction work in the 1920s. Some parts of the temples are still under the roads, so only parts are visible. Behind temples B and C a part of the Curia of Pompejus is visible. This was the place when the Senate met on March 15th 44BC, en Julius Caesar was murdered.
This ancient Roman site is now the home of one of Rome's three large colonies of cats, even fed by city staff. Many of them can be seen in the ruins of this pleasant area, filled with ruins and tall pine trees, in contrast with the more recent yet beautiful buildings.
The best view is from the east side on via S Nicola de' Cesarini. This ruin consists of four temples, temple B is round. It is not known which gods these temples were dedicated. These ruins are possibly as old as the 5C BC. It's also a place where you can see around 50 cats lounging around quietly.
Visit ROME'S STRAY CAT POPULATION... many of whom make their home in the ruins near Torre Argentina. There is also a cat shelter there, as may be seen from this sign ! :)
Check out the Torre Argentina. A cat sanctuary in the middle of Rome. This is a great place for a family visit because the kids get so wrapped up in the cats, they forget to shop.
Check out this beautifully lit square at night. A lot of cats straying around there (near the center of the picture you might see one of them ...)
Largo Argentina was a kind of ancient Roman square with four temples facing a courtyard to the east paved with travertine, that is why it is also named Area Sacra (Holy area).