Travel guide for persons with disabilities thinking of visiting Italy and its cities of Rome and Venice.
The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
The country includes a number of islands, the biggest of which are Sicily and Sardinia, which are reached by ship or aircraft.
Po River is the longest river in Italy. The Tiber River runs through the city of Rome.
Rome, the Eternal City, is the capital of Italy and of the Lazio (Latium) region. It's the famed city of the Seven Hills, La Dolce Vita, Vatican City and Three Coins in the Fountain. Its Historic Center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Venice is still one of the most interesting and lovely places in the world. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago, which adds to the fascinating character. Venice has decayed since its heyday and is heavily tourist-ed (there are slightly more tourists than residents), but the romantic charm remains.
Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index rating in the world.
Italy is a place of olive oil, pasta, wine, and sunshine, roman ruins and renaissance palaces. Ski in chic Courmayeur or climb the snow-coated peaks of the Sesto Dolomites; strap on your boots and take to the hills of Tuscany or don designer shades and island hop around Sicily.
Northern Italy has some of the biggest lakes in the country, such as Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Iseo. Because it is surrounded by the sea, Italy has many kilometers of coast, which brings tourists from around the world. Tourists also come to see Italy's many historical places.
Italy includes in its territories two very small independent states, San Marino and the Vatican City.
The climate in Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate depending on the location. Most of the inland northern areas of Italy (for example Turin, Milan and Bologna) have a continental climate often classified as Humid subtropical climate.
The railway network in Italy totals 16,627 kilometers (10,331 mi). Italy is ranked 17th in the world. High speed trains include ETR-class trains which travels at 300 km/h (190 mph).
Visas and Permits for Italy:
No visa, but a passport or another valid ID is required for EU residents and the can stay in Italy without time limit. American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens also need only a passport - no visa - but stays are limited to three months.
English is widely spoken in Rome, especially by persons that work in the touristic areas. But you'll be able to speak English with common people very often, especially with younger persons aged between 14 and 35.
Disability Travel in Rome, Italy:
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.
Gaizka Pujana is the co-owner of Barcelona Homes, S.L. which is a company specialized in providing short term tenancy solutions in Seville and Barcelona through its web pages www.getreadyrome.com