Pets here, although loved, are often not regarded as part of the family in the way that British ones are - that is, living indoors, with the freedom to wander, investigate and yes, if they feel like it, destroy at will - and I still have friends who expect me to put Simi on the balcony during their visits.
"Sorry", I say [although I am not], "she's my baby and no one puts babies on the balcony." This usually provokes the hands-in-air gesture which means, "Ah, well, she's British - pazienza" and a sigh of surrender. Simi, meanwhile, does not understand why my Sicilian friends object to having her sit on their heads so after they've gone I , in my turn, say "Pazienza" and explain to her that they can't help it - they're Italian.
We were both pleased, therefore, to read today that Aidaa, Italy's Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment, has suggested that pet-owners bestow their surname upon their four-legged best friends and have it added to their microchips. The main aim of this measure, says the Association, is to make our pets even more easily identifiable but also to make them officially and legally part of the family.