Gelateria Maggiore, in the southern seaside town of Vieste, debuted its specially-made gelato for cats and dogs on Sunday, in collaboration with the local kennel.
“Vieste, our town, is animal friendly,” one of the volunteers from the kennel told The Local. “Here, you can come on holiday with a dog and go anywhere – lidos accept animals and even offer deck chairs for them.”
“Restaurants and almost all buildings accept welcome animals – even our beautiful cathedral.”
That's what got staff at the kennel wondering: why should their canine pals be left out of trips to the local gelateria?
Domenico Maggiore, the owner of the popular gelateria, said he immediately agreed to make a pet-friendly ice cream when the kennel made the suggestion.
The official inauguration of the doggy gelato took place on Sunday, after the gelateria opened for the spring the previous day – and all four-legged attendees got to taste the new dessert for free.
What's more, Maggiore told The Local that the pet-friendly treats will remain on sale throughout the year. “I'm considering introducing a special offer, where owners who buy a gelato get a free one for their pet, and I'll ask them to instead give a free contribution to the kennel.”
But with ice cream generally considered a no-no for pets, was it difficult to create a tasty gelato that could also be nutritious?
“Of course, we had to choose flavours which naturally don't contain sugars, such as nocciola (hazelnut) and pistacchio. Paradoxically, they're the most expensive flavours!” explained Maggiore.
The cones went down well, with plenty of pictures showing dogs of all breeds hungrily tucking into their gelato.
The first cone was reserved for Danko, oone of the oldest dogs at the kennel, aged 12, who suffers from cancer which has left him blind.
Danko was treated to the very first taste of dog-friendly gelato, as a way of not only offering him a springtime treat, but of encouraging people to adopt older or poorly dogs from the kennels.
The kennel has worked hard to reduce the number of stray dogs on the town's streets, and its next aim is to reduce the need for kennels at all.
To get there, the organization has set up several projects, including Pet Therapy, taking the dogs into care homes and hospitals, and supporting initiatives to make the local tourism industry more animal-friendly.
All in all, Italy is a good place to spend the summer if you're a dog. The country also boasts a beach for dog owners only in Rimini, where visitors without pooches aren't allowed in. The northern city also offers restaurants and hotels where four-legged friends can enter.
More of a cat person? Head to Sardinia, where you'll find a cat sanctuary located on a remote beach, with visitors encouraged to play with the felines.