Rome isn’t an easy city for travellers with disabilities. Cobbled streets, paving stones, blocked pavements and tiny lifts are difficult for wheelchair users, while the relentless traffic can be disorienting for partially sighted travellers or those with hearing difficulties.
If you have an obvious disability and/or appropriate ID, many museums and galleries offer free admission for yourself and a companion.
Arriving in Rome
Airline companies will arrange assistance at airports if you notify them of your needs in advance. Alternatively, contact ADR Assistance (www.adrassistance.it) for help at Fiumicino or Ciampino airports.
To reach the city from Fiumicino, the wheelchair-accessible Leonardo Express train runs to Stazione Termini. Alternatively, you could organise a private transfer – Fausta Trasporti is one of a number of operators offering transfers in wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
If travelling by train, ring 800 90 60 60 to arrange assistance. At Stazione Termini, the Sala Blu Assistenza Disabili next to platform 1 can provide information on wheelchair-accessible trains and help with transport in the station. Contact the office 24 hours ahead if you know you’re going to need assistance. There are similar offices at Tiburtina and Ostiense stations.
For people with disabilities and reduced mobility, 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.
Getting around on public transport is difficult. All stations on metro line B have wheelchair access and lifts except Circo Massimo, Colosseo and Cavour. On line A, Cipro and Termini are equipped with lifts. Note, however, that just because a station has a lift doesn’t mean it will necessarily be working.
Bus 590 covers the same route as metro line A and is one of 22 bus and tram services with wheelchair access. Routes with disabled access are indicated on bus stops.
Some taxis are equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs; ask for a taxi for a sedia a rotelle (wheelchair). Fausta Trasporti has a fleet of wheelchair-accessible vehicles that can carry up to seven people, including three wheelchair users.
If you are driving, EU disability parking permits are recognised in Rome, 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. Its listings include three accommodation providers in Rome.
Tourism without Barriers (www.turismosenzabarriere.it) Has a searchable database of accessible accommodation and tourist attractions in several regions of Italy, including Lazio.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Accessible Travel Agencies
Rome & Italy This mainstream travel agency in Rome 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 difficult archaeological sites, including the Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo and Terme di Caracalla.
Accessible Italy San Marino–based, this nonprofit company specialises in holiday services for people with disabilities, including equipment rental, adapted vehicle hire and arranging personal assistants.
Sage Traveling (www.sagetraveling.com) A US-based accessible travel agency, offering tailor-made tours to assist mobility-impaired travellers in Europe. Check out its website for a detailed access guide to Rome.