Rome's beach designated exclusively for dogs and their owners returns this May. The 7,000 sqm stretch of sand known as Bau beach is located near Fiumicino airport in the Maccarese area west of the city and can be reached from Via Praia a Mare. Inaugurated in 1998, it became Italy's first official canine beach.

Dogs can play and run around freely and drinking water is provided. Owners are offered refreshment areas serving icecream, drinks and health foods as well as a full programme of events until September, including educational talks on dog welfare and art exhibitions.

To gain access to the beach a few simple rules apply: only non-aggressive dogs are welcome and generally are not required to be kept on a leash, puppies under three months and female dogs in heat are not permitted, and an up-to-date record of each dog's vaccination history must be provided. To keep the beach clean, refuse bags are available throughout the area. Dogs have access to health and beauty treatments, with a dog grooming service and a veterinarian on hand.

The magazine Beaches of Italy awarded Bau beach an Oscar at last year's Seaside Fair in Marina di Carrara in northern Tuscany. And for those wondering what bau means

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