Disabled Travel to Rome, Italy

By: Gaizka Pujana

In fact, organized tours offer trips to wheelchair friendly hotels, museums and other places of interest so that disabled travelers can enjoy their destination just as much as the next traveler. Rome, the grand capital of Italy, is no exception and has joined this trend in a big way.

Admittedly, in previous years, Rome seemed to be oblivious to the daily trials of wheelchair bound locals and visitors as they tried to maneuver their way around the city and enter buildings that were not easily accessible. However, it is heartening to see that many new building projects have taken the disabled into account and are now providing ramps and lifts features that would not have been in place perhaps a decade ago.

There are many things to take into account when planning a trip to Rome, especially when you need to consider the use of a wheelchair as well. The first thing to think about is where you are going to stay. The logical choice, of course, is to pick hotels that are as centrally located as possible so that you don't have to travel great distances to sightsee. Simply being in the heart of the city, near wonderful old buildings or plazas, is great in itself and it is definitely worth compromising on grandeur and opulence by downgrading to a slightly less expensive hotel that is well placed.

When making a hotel reservation, be sure to check whether they have wheelchair accessible rooms and check the height of the beds, the size of the room and other important features such as grab bars in the bathtub, and wall mounted flush buttons for the toilets. Also ensure that the elevator door will open up to a size that will accommodate you and your traveling companion, and that there are no unforeseen stumbling blocks such as front stairs instead of ramps.

Rome is a city like no other and you will definitely want to get in as many sites as you can. The first floors of many of the major museums are wheelchair accessible and you can therefore take in a lot of the important exhibitions in these locations. Unfortunately, many of the second floors are only reached by a stairwell. It may be worth contacting the museums in advance to see what kind of facilities they have (including accessible bathrooms) and ask them to make special arrangements (such as opening side doors, etc.).

Take the Vatican Museums as an example. For starters, wheelchair bound visitors are allowed to jump the long lines and are allowed to enter ahead of other tourists. Thereafter, most of these magnificent buildings are reasonably accessible. The Sistine Chapel is accessed by a lift and then a steep ramp, while a separate elevator enters other areas of the museum. In general, it is advisable to visit all the museums as early on in the day as possible in order to avoid the bustle of the crowds and to have the full attention of museum personnel.

Traveling around Rome is easiest done by hailing one of the many cabs, although it is possible to do so by bus. Walking/rolling around the city may be a bit of a challenge due to the heavy congestion, cars parked on the kerbs and uneven cobbled roads. However, a little determination, forethought and innovation will ensure that you and your traveling companion enjoy a remarkable and truly unforgettable visit to this grand old city.

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