Italy is not an easy country for travellers with disabilities. Cobblestone streets and pavements blocked by parked cars and scooters make getting around difficult for wheelchair users. And while many buildings have lifts, they are not always wide enough for wheelchairs. Not a lot has been done to make life easier for hearing- or vision-impaired travellers either. However, awareness of accessibility issues and a culture of inclusion are steadily growing.
If you have an obvious disability and/or appropriate ID, many museums and galleries offer free admission for yourself and a companion.
Arriving in Italy
- Airline companies will arrange assistance at airports if you notify them of your needs in advance. For help at Rome’s Fiumicino or Ciampino airports contact ADR Assistance (www.adrassistance.it).
- To reach Rome from Fiumicino Airport, the wheelchair-accessible Leonardo Express train runs to Stazione Termini. Private wheelchair-accessible transfers are also available 24/7 from both Fiumicino and Ciampino airports – book online at www.transfers-rome-civitavecchia.com/wheelchair-rome-taxi-transfers.
- If travelling by train, you can arrange assistance through SalaBlu online (https://salabluonline.rfi.it) or by calling 800 90 60 60 (from a landline) or 02 32 32 32 (from a landline or mobile).
- Visit the information page of Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (www.rfi.it/rfi-en/for-persons-with-disability) for full details of services offered and barrier-free stations.
- Many urban buses are wheelchair-accessible; however some of the stops may not be – ask before you board.
- Some taxis are equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs; ask for a taxi for a sedia a rotelle (wheelchair).
- If you are driving, EU disabled parking permits are recognised in Italy, giving you the same parking rights that local drivers with disabilities have.
Accessible Travel Online Resources
- Village for All (www.villageforall.net/en) Performs on-site audits of tourist facilities in Italy and San Marino. Most of the 67 facilities are accommodation providers, ranging from camping grounds to high-class hotels.
- Tourism without Barriers (www.turismosenzabarriere.it) Has a searchable database of accessible accommodation and tourist attractions in Tuscany, with a scattering of options in other regions.
- Fondazione Cesare Serono (www.fondazioneserono.org/disabilita/spiagge-accessibili/spiagge-accessibili) A list (in Italian) of accessible beaches.
- Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/accessible-travel.
Accessible Travel Agencies
Rome & Italy This mainstream travel agency has a well-developed accessible-tourism arm that offers customised tours, accessible accommodation, and equipment and vehicle hire. Its Wheely Trekky service, which uses a specially designed sedan/rickshaw with sherpas, allows wheelchair users to access many otherwise inaccessible archaeological sites.
Fausta Trasporti Has a fleet of wheelchair-accessible vehicles that can carry up to seven people, including three wheelchair users. It’s based in Rome, but operates day trips to Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria and Campania.
Accessible Italy (www.accessibleitaly.com) A San Marino–based nonprofit company that runs guided tours and provides services for people with disabilities, including equipment rental and adapted-vehicle hire, and can arrange personal assistants.
Sage Traveling (www.sagetraveling.com) A US-based accessible-travel agency that offers tailor-made tours to assist mobility-impaired travellers in Europe. Check out its website for detailed access guides to Florence, Naples, Rome and Venice.