Advice, tips, resources, and tours for disabled, handicapped, and physically challenged travelers who want to take an Italy vacation
Though they've been making enormous strides in the past twenty years, Europe certainly won't win any medals for accessibility.
This really is not their fault. When the ancient Romans, medieval masons, and great Renaissance architects were designing their buildings, they weren’t exactly thinking of wheelchair ramps, sturdy handrails, or easy risers on those tight spiral stone staircases inside bell towers. But don’t let any disability stop you from traveling.
All the big cities have made an effort to accommodate people with disabilities over the past few years, at the very least putting in, wherever possible, ramps at museum and church entrances.
Even Venice, a seemingly impossible warren of narrow alleys interrupted every few blocks by one of hundreds upon hundreds of little footbridges that arch up steeply and over the myriad canals that divide the city up into 118 tiny islands, has made life easier for the mobility impaired. The city has installed wheelchair lifts on a key set of those little bridges that allow access to all the major sights and, indeed nearly half the entire city (the city’s tourism map shows which streets, and bridges, are accessible via this network—though locals report to me that the elevators don't always work, at least they're trying).
While ASL is understood by even fewer people over there than in the U.S., mutes might want to pick up a nifty set of laminated “phrase sheets” with tiny cartoons of everything related to travel—from chickens to banks to train stations—so you can just point to a pictogram to get your message across.
There is also no end of organizations dedicated to helping you plan and execute your trip, doling out specific advice before you go, and providing opportunities to travel. The most important are listed in the "Links" section.
It also might make sense to join a guided tour that caters to travelers with disabilities. These outfits are very adept at taking care of the details, know all the hotels with handicap-accessible rooms, have vans and buses wheelchair-ready, and other specialized services for the physically challenged. » more