Italy in a wheelchair

Jul 15th, 2006, 07:44 PM
  #1  
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Italy in a wheelchair

I am going to Italy next spring(2007)with my husband,who is physically able to push my wheelchair. I will have both a cane and a wheelchair.Would I do best being on a bus tour?(like Tauck or Perrillo)Which tour might be more suitable(I am 50 years old)
8833 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 08:00 PM
  #2  
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I wish I could comment more on Italy, but I won't have been there until Spring 2007 myself. However, we were in London two years ago just before we discovered my mom had lung cancer. She didn't realize until all the walking around what a breathing problem she had, but luckily we were able to borrow a wheel chair and take her all over anyway. The most difficult parts were the many historical sights that weren't wheelchair accessible, but since she could still manage stairs without getting winded we simply took turns carrying the wheelchair while she climbed them with the aid of the railing and off we went. We didn't take any bus tours, just paraded through the city with the lot of us (16 of her kids & grandkids) tagging along behind. Not ideal, but definitely doable.
 
Jul 15th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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I would buy this book:

"Rick Steves' Easy Access Europe : A Guide for Travelers with Limited Mobility." It's $14.27 new on Amazon.

Margy
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Jul 15th, 2006, 08:37 PM
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Hi 8833, do go to www.slowtrav.com and you will find information that will help you with your trip. Best regards to you along with wishes that you have a beautiful time in Italy!
LoveItaly is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 08:44 PM
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Vinrouge has a recent trip report of Rome and Venice in a wheelchair. You may wish to check it out.
basingstoke1 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 09:08 PM
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Based on my experience, I am not sure you'd be better off on a bus tour. I recommend actually, flying in and using a car service, staying in a central location and liesurely seeing the sites with your husband. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I am just telling you what happened in hopes of answering your question. My sister and I joined up with a 14-day Italy tour last summer. We went with Collette, which used a coach bus as the major form of transportation. There was a 50-60 yr. old, slightly heavy lady in a wheelchair with her husband (who was actually very slight in build). She could not use a cane, but I did see her with a walker a few times.

There were quite a number of things she simply could not do on this trip that was included in the price, Pompeii for example. Poor thing sat with her DH at a cafe until our tour was over. She thought that "bus tour" meant that you literally tour by bus. The bus was to get from point A to point B, city-to-city. The buses often dropped us off quite far from our ultimate destinations, either due to restrictive parking laws or the ancient geography of the country. Climbing towers and steps in old buildings were often impossible, so she and her husband would end up staying in the city and shopping. For a lot of tours (Vatican, Duomo) the company dirwctor offered to pay for a taxi to take her and meet us there to allow the rest of us to be punctual. It helped, and the rest of us were able to be on time, but the tour company stopped their willingness to pay for all of these taxi rides at the mid-point of the tour. This became a problematic issue. Several members of the tour group felt it overly inconvenienced their travel time and made snide comments about her not reading the fine print in the brochure that this was a "fast-paced bus/boat/walking tour and not a vacation-vacation." I think Collette did the best they could but this was clearly not the right trip for her. She wasted her money AND did major shopping damage to her credit card as a way of passing the time I guess. Either avoid Collette, or get used to the idea of using your cane frequently, as you will be able to experience so much more. Even the gondolas wouldn't take her because they were too afraid she'd fall. With the cars, Vespas and crowds, it was hard for her to keep up with us anyway, while walking. I hope you find a way to see this beautiful country, but like I said, read the fine print and think about something other than a tour.
susanteach is offline  
Jul 16th, 2006, 07:13 AM
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Thank you so much for your insight.I have also looked into renting a villa in a central location near the areas we want to visit and then going to locations at our leisure.I think this is the way to go.
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Jul 16th, 2006, 11:54 PM
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I have taken 2 bus tours of Italy in the past & would agree that the pace is very fast & tiring. I think that you are making the right decision in staying at a central location & going at your own pace. Good luck with your trip & have a wonderful time.
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 06:25 AM
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I thought that going to Venice was a no go.But, after reading replies for a man going to Venice with a wheelcahir and cane,I thought it could be done.Renting a taxi might be a nice way to see a lot of Venice and not worry about the bridges.Although I can walk with a cane fine,I get very tired walking long distances.Any other suggestions to make this visit to Venice more accessible?
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:19 AM
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"Renting a taxi might be a nice way to see a lot of Venice and not worry about the bridges."

How do you rent a taxi to see a city with no cars?
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 08:25 AM
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A water taxi.
8833 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 09:34 AM
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8833 - My 21 year old daughter depends upon a wheelchair for her mobility so I understand your concerns. While we travel yearly to Europe (she doesn't), being dependent upon a wheelchair is so ingrained in my that when I travel I often analyze what would or wouldn't work for her. In my opinion, taking a tour would not be feasible for the reasons sited above. I like the idea of hiring a private car service for transportation and take the vacation from a different perspective. Not having read through the entire above posts, where in Italy were you planning to vacation?
dorkforcemom is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:12 AM
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My husband and I are going to be traveling in the northern lakes in spring 2007.This is in the planning stage as we want to rent an apartment in the region and drive. I can walk without both a cane or wheelchair.But, can not walk for long distances.I would like to visit Venice, but am concerned that there will be too much walking and Venice does not appear to be wheelchair friendly.
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:18 AM
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I certainly hate to be discouraging, but Venice would prove very difficult. The many, many bridges over the many, many canals have about 10 steps going up and down each one. It just seems like you might be happier choosing destinations in Italy that are less difficult to navigate. We were there in the spring and the floods late every afternoon brought the tides in at thigh high level - another consideration although I understand it was unusual for when we were there. Does this help at all? By planning ahead, you're smart to be thinking of these things now so that you can create a wonderful, wonderful trip to Italy!
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:30 AM
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Thanks so much for your advise. Maybe September would be better. No flooding.I hear you about the bridges. But, how about renting a water taxi and staying at a hotel around st.Marks sqaure
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Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:29 PM
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You can certainly see a lot of Venice from a water taxi - at least, the outsides of buildings, which are worth seeing in and of themselves. But they are very expensive. Due to our heavy luggage, we took a water taxi to our hotel when we first arrived. That took us from the Piazzale Rome half way down the Grand Canal, and it cost 50 Euro. People seemed to agree that was a typical price for that trip. So to do all your sightseeing in Venice by water taxi would end up being very expensive.

I'd get some more advice on the following, but I wouldn't write off the reasonably-priced vaporettos. I'm pretty sure I saw someone riding a vaporetto in a wheelchair. Ramps (gangplanks) which are not very steep take you to the docks, which ride up and down with the tide, and the vaporettos tie up pretty flush with their docks - I think a wheelchair can just be pushed quickly over any tiny gap.

Looking now at a map of Venice, it does seem that there's an area around the Piazza San Marco that can be accessed without crossing any canals, as far west as the Campo San Moisè, and north to San Zulian (Giuliano) and a bit beyond (unless there are some steps or obstacles that I'm not seeing on the map). So you might consider that your "micro-Venice".

The following has a lot of advice regarding access to Venice with a wheelchair:

http://tinyurl.com/ebo22

If you really want to see Venice, with a lot of research in advance, I'll bet you can do it.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Larry, Thanks for your bit of info.Since we will not be going to Italy for about 9 months I have much time to plan. We will be seeing the Northern lakes and maybe start in Switzerland.(Lucere to lugano,to Lake como etc.)We will be there for two weeks and since we have never visited Northern Italy we'd like to focus our travels in the North.Venice may not be an options for me now.That's fine and I am sure I'll still be able to enjoy Italy.( I was able to see Venice in my younger walking days;it was magical)
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Jul 23rd, 2006, 10:06 AM
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8833, look for a message that I just topped for titled "Traveling tips for those with limited mobility"
Aloha
Kaneohe is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 01:18 PM
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8833, in addition to Venice, we also visited several lakes on our most recent trip (back in May). You can find our report on the lakes portion of our trip at:

"Italy trip report: The Lakes District":
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34821416

Our photos are at:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-jcjeim

Although we did not do it, my Italian teacher recommended simply driving all around lake Garda, as a drive with lots of striking scenery. You could stop in various villages along the way.

The villages on the lakes vary with respect to how flat they are. I wonder if you could buy contour maps to pick out flat-looking villages, and then use that as a starting point to get more information about handicapped accessibility.

For example, on Lake Garda, we stayed in Torri del Benaco, which is a small town, and I recall it being completely flat. It did have some cobblestone, and, not being sensitive to these issues, I don't recall if it had curb cuts.

On the other hand, because of the way Bellagio and Varenna rise up sharply from the shore of Lake Como, they both had pedestrian streets that ran up steep flights of stairs, and they looked almost impossible to navigate in a chair. Much of the terrain around the lakes is like that, which is why even roads running right alongside the lakes can be seen on the maps to go through gallerie (tunnels).

So it may be a matter of careful research, and even writing to various chambers of commerce and museums and other sights to verify accessibility, and then carefully choosing where to go.

- Larry
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