Accessibility in Rome03 October 2017
Ancient Roman ruins, beautiful renaissance art, Vatican City and a fantastic cuisine makes Rome one of the most popular city breaks in the world and it’s certainly worth the visit despite the challenges that wheelchair users will face.
Hilly terrain, uneven ground, cobblestone streets and limited accessible transportation options puts the disabled access in Rome behind other European cities – however, the accessibility at the Roman tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels are sufficient to ensure that accessible holidays for disabled people are possible and enjoyable.
In this blog, our aim is to give you a few tips to get the best of your holiday in Rome as a wheelchair user.
Start High and Plan Carefully
Rome is known as the ‘Seven hills town’ with hilly streets connecting many of the tourist attractions. We recommend that you thoroughly plan your sight-seeing day(s) around starting high on a hill. Arrange accessible transport to a top of a hill and work your way down, making sure to check where there are steps. Normally you can look at a map and go the most direct route – however in Rome, due to the number of hills – there may be some unexpected flights of stairs that you need to avoid.
Choose Central Accessible Accommodation in Rome
When choosing your accessible accommodation in Rome, selecting a central location (or a location near the attractions you want to see) is key as this will then cut down the amount of travelling you will have to do. We have two accessible hotels very close to Vatican City - Hotel Michelangelo and Hotel Cicerone. We also have accessible accommodation in the centre of Rome at the Empire Palace Hotel. By booking with Enable Holidays, you are guaranteed accessible rooms, adapted transfers to and from the airport and much more.
Use Taxi’s or Buses
Most of the time, you can use a metro system or trains to get around a city as a cheaper alternative to taxi’s. Unfortunately, in Rome these methods of transport aren’t fully accessible due to not having lift access – so we recommend getting around in taxis or accessible buses (please be aware that taxis in Rome are expensive).
Not every bus is accessible – look for the blue wheelchair badge on the side of the buses (they’ll have a ramp that you can use to access the bus). It can be common for buses to stop in the middle of the street, far away from the curbs due to parked cars, making it difficult for buses to park and dips in the pavements can be few and far between.You could use the Rome accessible bus tour to get around town, as this will take you directly between the main tourist attractions.
Stick to the Main Streets
Travelling through the city is difficult, however the best way is to stick to the main streets as they will be better maintained, wider and you’ll likely avoid cobblestones. It may mean taking a longer route, but it will be worth it.
When and how to tour the Vatican
As it’s usually busier in the mornings, we recommend visiting the Vatican in the afternoon so that you will have an easier time getting around and viewing the art.
Visitors follow a one-way route through the Papal apartments to reach the Sistine chapel – unfortunately this route involves going up and down flights of stairs. You may be able to follow a special route behind roped off areas to reach the chapel, however this is unmarked and staff are sometimes uneasy letting people accompany wheelchair users.
We recommend researching an outside tour company that specialises in private wheelchair accessible Vatican tours which will guarantee you will not miss out on the highlights as the tour takes you on an entirely step-free route with an informative and helpful guide (plus you can skip the entrance line!).
Visit the Capitoline Museum instead of the National Museum of Rome
Whilst they’re both fantastic, the Capitoline is in a much better location, as it’s near the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Market and other tourist attractions whilst offering stunning views of Rome. The National Museum of Rome is based quite a distance away from other tourist sites – so if you only want to visit one of them, visit the Capitoline Museum.
You’d normally want to partake in a walking tour at the start of your holiday to get to know the city – however in Rome, the walking tours could involve going over some of the most severe cobblestones. Before going on them, we recommend that you try going over the cobblestones on your wheelchair before you take a tour to confirm that you are okay with it.
Visit Rome with a Companion/Helper
As Rome isn’t the most accessible place, we advise you to visit with a companion or helper – with all the hills and cobblestone roads that are around, it would be easier if you had someone to help if necessary.
Call us on 0871 222 4939 to book a holiday to Rome, or if you want to find out some more information.
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