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Venice: Disabled Access and Travel

by Pablova Symonds


The old city of Venice with its canals and bridges is often high on the list of places to see when touring Europe. A disabled traveller may need a personal assistant to negotiate some of the trickier areas, but many service providers are increasingly considering the needs of the disabled. For example, a number of the bridges come equipped with wheelchair lifts to enable handicapped individuals to experience some of Venice’s best views. The tourist office lends out a key to these lifts. Many of the bridges at the historic centre are also equipped with wheelchair ramps


Disabled visitors may want to avoid coming to Venice during late October and early spring in order to avoid the high water season, when overflow from the Adriatic floods St. Mark’s Square and low-lying areas at high tide. During the rest of the year, the climate is as pleasant as you would expect of Shakespeare’s romantic Venice.


You definitely don’t want to miss a chance to ride the gondolas through the canals. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and the gondolier’s price is negotiable. The gondolier will assist wheelchair users to board and exit the gondola. The water buses (or vaporettos) are also easily accessible for wheelchair users and are constantly plying the canals as an easy mode of transport for Venetians and tourists alike. These trips are free for both the wheelchair user and one of their companions.


Some tour operators have special tours for disabled individuals that include many benefits such as getting to the head of the line when visiting tourist attractions. In this way, a handicapped tourist can enjoy many of the famous sites from museums to churches and gardens without too much exhaustion.


While the hotels do have elevators, it’s best to call ahead and find out if these are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. The Lista di Spagna area is extremely accessible as is the old church that serves as a featured attraction. The Basilica di San Marco has an entrance with a ramp that is open during the mornings and the interiors are easily accessed. Other museums like Palazzo Ducale and Museo Civico Correr provide some level of accessibility to some rooms. You may also want to visit historical and artistic sites like the Basilica of San Marco, Ca' Rezzonico, the Church of the Frari, the Scuola Grande S. Rocco, and Ca' d'Oro, each of which are easily accessible.