Wheelchair travel in the streets of Italy

Kathy and Joe Pagliei at Trevi Fountain in Rome

I am Italian, I sell travel, and I have been through the streets of Italy with my wheelchair. I love everything about Italy! I love the culture, the food, the language and the people. The streets can present a challenge with a wheelchair, however, I still love visiting Italy.

In the inner cities of Italy, the charm of the “old City” is its architecture and cobble stone streets. The first rule of thumb when traveling with a wheelchair is to be sure the person pushing the chair is physically able to push that person on any surface. If the handler is not strong enough to push the wheelchair up small inclines or ramps, then it’s not likely they would be successful on the cobblestone streets of Italy.

Typical uneven Rome street conditions

Another thing to consider is the chair itself. Travelers like to travel with “travel chairs” or “companion chairs” which are light weight and more portable, however, the small wheels of those chairs will cause more unwanted problems as the wheels will get stuck in the terrain of the uneven surfaces. Use a standard wheelchair for your vacations and you will be much more comfortable getting your traveler around the city.

Not all streets in Italy are cobbled

Having said that, not all streets are cobbled. There are smaller streets to access places of interest you can use until you get to the areas where the rolling may be a bit more difficult. Having a guide around the city is helpful as they know which streets are more wheelchair friendly and will help to get you to your walking destination on an easier path. Be prepared for hills and inclines. The city streets are not level and you will find hills and inclines no matter which city you travel to in Italy.

Italy travel by scooter

Getting around the city is sometimes challenging. The sidewalks are often broken and do not have curb cuts, which forces the traveler into the busy streets. Stay as close to the parked cars or sidewalk as possible. Italians that drive through the city streets are used to obstacles in their way, so they are a bit more cautious and usually give the pedestrian the right of way.

Wheelchairs on Rome roadway

If you are staying at an inner city hotel, which is where we all want to be when we travel, be aware that the small streets may not be able to accommodate a large vehicle with a lift. If that’s the case, getting to your transportation can also be a challenge. I have walked as far as 2 or 3 blocks to get to our coach with my wheelchair group. Because coaches are only permitted in certain areas, and cannot fit down the small streets of the old city, we were forced to walk the chairs to where the coach was parked. It’s not always easy, but in the end, you will be delighted you took on the challenge.

As long as you are prepared both physically and mentally for your trip, I have no doubt that you will return saying that you love Italy too.

If you look for them you can run into cobblestones in Rome

The most common surface in Italy

Brazil with access by 2014

The old traveler’s tale that access is best if you “follow the Olympics” is true.  The same is coming true for soccer, or as some call it “football.”  Talking about Brazil’s success in obtaining the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Joseph S. Blatter, President of world football’s governing body said the vital issue for the competition’s Organizational Committee (OC) is to tackle accessibility.

According to FIFA “Never before has there been so much cooperation between a host nation’s Organising Committee and that country’s Paralympic Committee,” said Andrew Parsons, the President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.

“We feel flattered that they have come to us. It’s a crucial time, because we’re discussing the laying down of technical rules concerning accessibility for sporting events in Brazil. This affects a very large section of the population, which is made up of the physically handicapped, the elderly, the obese and those recovering from injuries. These people are consumers and their rights as citizens are being respected.”

The article went on to say “Over and above the discussions concerning accessibility during Brazil 2014, the CPB President also sees the next FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to set down a marker and leave a legacy of accessibility for future generations. It’s important that issues like this are covered at a World Cup, because a big event always leaves its mark.”

In closing, Parsons said “We can help educate the country and create, via the World Cup, a culture of accessibility and an architectural concept which takes this issue into consideration. We’re happy to take a solid step in that direction and move on from talk to action.”

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Share the Wealth

Share the wealth with wheelchair accessible cruisingWe all know that cruise lines offer special promotions to entice their former cruisers to sail with them again. Today I discovered that Princess Cruises offers past passengers promotions where Captain Circle members can extend their discounted offers to friends and family members sailing with them on the same itinerary. The program is called “Share the Wealth”. My client saved almost $1600 on a 7 night sailing.