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Roman Cat Sanctuary Ruffles Archaeologists' Fur
November 8, 2012

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It's stray cats versus ancient legend, as a disagreement over what to do with archaeological remains heats up.

The site is in the Largo Argentina, mere steps away from the site where, legend holds, Julius Caesar was assassinated. The site contains an ancient Roman temple. And built atop a pedestal of that temple is a cat sanctuary, where hundreds of stray cats now lounge or roam among the ruins.

The cat sanctuary has been there for 19 years now, and sanctuary organizers say that they are providing a vital service by caring for the cats that no one else wants. Such affinity for cats is not new in the Italian capital. Indeed, Romans have been particularly partial to cats since ancient times.

The cat sanctuary has become a destination for tourists, especially cat-loving ones, and visitors can buy several kinds of cat souvenirs at the site, not to mention adopting one of the cats to take home.

But the recent movement to get the sanctuary closed has reached a fever pitch, with the national cultural heritage commission getting involved and a member of Parliament discussing it in session recently. Parliament is set to vote on whether to close down the sanctuary, one of many in the city.

For his part, Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, supports the retention of the sanctuary, as does his cat, Certosino.




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