Highlighting travel in Italy for wheelchair users, as told by John Sage
14/11/2011 | 1 comments
John Sage travels Europe recording his first-hand impressions about access for wheelchair users carefully and systematically. Here we take a leaf from his book (blog) so that ENAT members and readers can have a taste of John's writing and observations.
Disabled Access Travel in Italy
Friday, November 11th, 2011
Disabled access in Italy presents numerous challenges for visitors including cobblestones, ancient ruins, hills, and a few accessible public transportation options. Nevertheless, visiting Italy with a disability is absolutely doable provided you do the right planning before your trip. Italy disabled access varies from city to city, and different challenges exist in different cities. Some of the best aspects and most challenging aspects are described below.
Italy accessible train travel – Traveling with a disability by train is a great way to get between the various Italian cities. Major cities like Florence, Venice, Milan, and Rome have accessible train stations that are connected by trains with accessible seating and toilets. Smaller cities may be served by older trains that are not fully accessible. If you need assistance getting on and off the train, be sure to reserve it at least 24 hours in advance by contacting Trenitalia.
Roman ruins can be challenging – 2000 years ago this was the center of the civilized world, and the Romans left some great ruins for tourists today to see. Some of them, like the Colosseum, have been made fully wheelchair accessible. Others like the Roman Forum and Pompeii are somewhat wheelchair accessible but have some rough terrain. Others like the Palatine Hill have steps to get around them.
Bad information on Venice – Unfortunately, the internet has discouraged many disabled tourists from visiting Venice. Numerous websites state how difficult and inaccessible Venice is which is not very accurate. The truth is that visiting Venice in a wheelchair (even a heavy power wheelchair) is 100% doable provided you do the right planning before your trip.
Cobblestone streets – Cobblestones cover many Italian streets and cause challenges for wheelchair users. Some of the cobblestones (like the ones in Rome shown on the left below) are small but very uneven. Others (like the ones in Florence shown on the right below) are large paving stones that are uneven in some parts of town and smooth in other parts of town.
Hilly towns – Many of the Italian cities date back to the middle ages and beyond. Consequently, many popular tourist cities are located in very hilly areas. Rome is the city of 7 hills, and many Tuscany towns including Siena and Pisa have steep hills that will challenge manual wheelchair users and slow walkers.