Le Vie della Perla

15 June 2022

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Pet Tourism in Calabria.

An interview to Isabella Badolato, tour leader and travel guide as well as lover of animals.

Santa Caterina dello Iono, the pet friendly village.


Who lives with a a pet considers them as a member of their own family and give them everything they need. But what’s it happen when they travel? Surely they don’t leave them at home alone, but they plan a holiday which can involve also them, make be comfortable for them and at the same time it can be offer an amazing stay to all member of the family. For this reason hotels and other types of accommodation are organizing more services for these new special customers creating a real new trend which are growing more and more. It’s rising the number of tourism professionals who provide services to welcome your pets during your stay making these tourist destinations pet friendly.

At Le Vie della Perla, we always pay attentions to new tendencies: we deeply study to understand them and find new opportunities for making rich our proposals. 


The narrowest alley in Italy in Santa Caterina dello Ionio.


We interviewed Isabella Badolato, a great lover of the animal world. Her family consists of 5 cats and 1 dog, the sweet and lively Ciccio. With Calabrian origin, she lived in Rome becoming pharmacist. Then she felt an attraction to the world of tourism, she became a tour guide and tour leader and moved to Santa Caterina dello Ionio where she is from, a small village on the green hills sloping down to the Ionian Sea of Calabria.

We met her some years ago, when she started to take up her new professional career by attending a Base Class for Excursionist Guides that we organized as instructors by AIGAE (Italian Association for Environmental and Excursionist Guides). We are now working together to design a Pet friendly tour in Calabria which spreads more days. 


Isabella and her friend Ciccio


We asked to Isabella to introduce us in the Calabrian pet world. Here you are what she told us.

Who is Isabella?
She is a person who has completely changed his working life when she was 42 and even his home when she was 49: from Rome to my origin place, Santa Caterina dello Ionio. I didn’t like my job as pharmacist and I approached the world of travel. I studied so much taking the license as tour leader, environmental and travel guide, too. I love travelling, food, visual arts and the animals. I’m trying to create work from my passions and I consider myself a privileged one for being able to do this. Moreover I have had the opportunity to know more Calabria for these last 7 years: it’s a region with several faces and deserves to be discovered and lived. 
What does pet-friendly mean?
It means “welcoming to pets”, being friendly with them. This expression is used for events, accommodations and services which are based to the respect for the animals and to welcome them like or better then human race. 

A fun local resident who welcomes us in Santa Caterina allo Ionio, a pet friendly village.

Is there a real sensitivity towards this world in Calabria?
There are several sensitive organizations, but they are spread all around the region. Santa Caterina dello Ionio is the first pet friendly village in Calabria and the third one in Italy, after Cortina and Vieste. It’s the only one which has a dog walking area along the Ionian Coast from Catanzaro for 40 km to South, thanks to the foresight of the current Mayor Severino. But there are more places where you can enjoy with your pet thanks to associations such as “Esperiandanti Silani”, “Musi felici” and “Enjoy your dog”. On May 21 and 22, 2022 we organized the first meeting regarding the welcoming  to pets in Santa Caterina dello Ionio. But “pet friendly” means also to take care all animals, not only the hosted ones. For this reason we started a fundraiser to sterilize the cats of the feline colonies surveyed by the municipality and to recover a 10-year-old dog abandoned on the side of a road.
What opportunities have you glimpsed in the tourism sector linked to this world?
The Pet Tourism is for niche groups, but it’s growing a lot especially after the explosion of Covid pandemic, when people took a pet to have company. And now even Grimaldi lines are promoting cruises with dogs. 

The welcoming to pets in a restaurant in Santa Caterina dello Ionio, the pet friendly village

What kind of services can be offered in Calabria to animals and owners?
Accepting animals in hotels or other public places is not enough, a common system must be designed among the operators: cafe with the “bau ice cream”, restaurants with “bau menu”, pet sitter service, grooming, dog education, home veterinarian, hotels with rooms equipped with dog beds, nutritionist, etc. Next September, for example, we’d like to organize a weekend with “bau yoga” activity. At the end the prevention of strays is also essential for the development of this tourism.
What are the developments of your project idea and medium-long term objectives?
Planning an annual conference involving more and more institutions and stakeholders. Organizing training courses in Santa Caterina regarding the various professional figures, generating a further economic business: the tourism of training. Last but not least, creating partnership with dynamic professionals such as travel agencies like Le Vie della Perla Tour Operator in order to customize tours for animals with their bipedal friends.

Annalisa, professional of laughter yoga. Photo by Girolamo Fonte


Then laughter and fun for our animals even in Calabria!

Brunella Brusco



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