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by Pablova Symonds

Rome: Disabled Access and Travel


For most people, the cobbled streets of Rome conjure up romantic images of Europe. But how accessible is it for a disabled traveller to enjoy a vacation in Rome? As awareness of the needs of the handicapped has increased over the years, so, too, has the implementation of features and facilities for the disabled increased. Today, major cities around the world, including Rome, have made great strides in recognizing the needs of disabled travellers and adopting measures to aid them during their stay.


In Rome, the public transport system was revamped to be at least partially accessible to those in a wheelchair. A special card is offered by the Italian Railways, offering reduced fares for blind people and war invalids, special assistance centres at 255 stations, and equipped spaces for wheelchair passengers. A number of tourist sites are wheelchair-friendly, but certain areas within them may require an assistant. Most tourists, disabled or otherwise, find it useful to stay at the heart of the city where all of the attractions are within easy rolling distance.


Hotels and other accommodations each make their own arrangements for disabled guests. Online sources dedicated to providing information for disabled travellers list the pros and cons of each one, allowing for a more informed choice. Visitors can expect everything from roll-in and hand-rail equipped showers to wide balconies, elevators, and entrances. Stores and restaurants are often happy to oblige wheelchair guests by carrying them over the small step at the entrance. Or you could opt to eat at a trattoria in the open outdoors style of the Romans.  


St. Peter’s Basilica has an entrance for wheelchair users under the Bell’s Arch. The interior is disabled-friendly but one may encounter small flights of stairs to visit the Popes’ tombs or the Treasury.


The Pinacoteca Vaticana is extremely disabled-friendly with wide lifts, reserved parking, and disabled toilets. It tends to be less crowded on Wednesday mornings since most people would be attending the Papal Audience.


For a taste of art and culture, visit the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. It features an accessible entrance and the interiors are wide enough for easy mobility. Some areas can only be reached by a short flight of stairs, but this can be overcome if you have an able-bodied companion to help. A disabled toilet is available as well.


The Villa Doria Panphili Park is also wheelchair-accessible with its mostly flat and well-paved tracks. The park is open throughout the day.