Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Rome & Venice - accessible areas/limited mobility

Rome & Venice - accessible areas/limited mobility

Jul 13th, 2019, 01:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 27
Rome & Venice - accessible areas/limited mobility

We are going to Rome, Venice and Paris with our elderly parents and 3 young children (8, 8 & 6). This is a very last minute trip and Iím not prepared. Husband and I went to Paris 13 years ago. None of us have been to Italy. My dad can only walk for short bits so we are thinking of taking his walker that has a seat and possibly a cane. Should we just take a wheelchair or is that too much baggage? We will be taking the train between the cities.

- what is a good area to stay in each city where the grandparents can easily walk to a cafe or some outdoor place to people watch? We will get AirBnBís. Grandparents will not sightsee everyday with us.

- Dad can walk, but is it manageable to take a wheelchair with us for the whole trip or is it easier with just a walker with seat? He needs frequent breaks but likes to feel independent.

- Any tips about trains? Especially Venice to Paris? I found mostly overnight ones.

- Any kid-friendly things we should know about? Tips? My twin girls are just turning 8 and my son is 6.

I will Iíll take any advice you have. We leave July 27 and Iím in panic mode.

Thank you!!
karinehm is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 01:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 610
I'd fly Between Venice and Paris.

Venice is so small location matters less but you'll want some place that doesn't require dealing with a dozen bridges.

Rome any where in the historic centre should work.

In both cities you're going to need accept what's left. AirBnB's ? It's the height of high season if it's not rented already I'd wonder why. Hotels can have a room or two but an empty apartment now I would want to be especially careful.
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Jul 13th, 2019, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,279
The Piazza Navona in Rome is a great place to people watch and there are lots of restaurants and cafes in the area. I have never used Airbnb so don't know what's in that area, but as Nick noted, you may have trouble finding something decent on such short notice in high season. I took a quick look, and there doesn't appear to be much in that area. Does it have to be Airbnb? Of course, even hotels or B&B's in that area may not have a lot of availability, and you would need more than one room.
SusanP is online now  
Jul 13th, 2019, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,223
Venice is full of bridges over all those canals. As you come out of the train station, you are facing the canal and that first sight of Venice never fails to please me. If you turn left (rather than crossing either of the bridges, you'll find fewer steps to negotiate so I'd try to get something in that direction (and not too far from the train station. Taking a vaporetto is also another choice but you may need to steady your dad while he boards. If you can get away without the wheelchair I would as you'll have to lift it a fair bit where it can't travel over the bridges. It might be of more value in Rome or Paris.

In Venice, get the kids to spot the lions - this will get them looking out and about. Gelato is always a winner. Going up one of the campaniles is great for people of all ages. My daughter who was 9 when we visited, found her inner shopper, buying inexpensive glass beads. Basically Venice is such a visual feast that they will find lots to entertain them just by being there. However, it is very easy to get separated so I'd make sure the kids have your mobile number or the phone number of your hotel in their pocket or whatever so someone can contact you (probably not needed but made us feel more comfortable).

Trains in Italy often involve steps up into the train. If taking a train with reserved seating, look out for the signs on the station showing where your nominated carriage is likely to pull into. Minimising your luggage will help a huge amount and I recommend getting the kids a backpack each (school bag sized) so they can manage their own luggage but be hands free. In Paris, I'd try the buses instead of the metro as you'll see more. The metros often have quite long underground passages.
dreamon is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 08:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 610
One more thought. A hotel is more likely to have an elevator.
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Jul 13th, 2019, 09:41 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,874
You can probably rent a wheelchair in Paris and Rome if you decide it is needed instead of bringing one with you and transporting it between locations. I agree it would be difficult to use one in Venice.
joannyc is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,006
How long is the trip?

I would not do AirBnB rentals. It's too late in the game to find good ones and there will likely be accessibility issues. I would stick with hotels, B&Bs, or apartments rented thru a hotel. Not try to find 3 owner direct rentals at this late date.

I think Venice is the trickiest for moving around. There's simply bridges everywhere. There's no way a wheel chair would work. Even a walker will be tricky there. Venice is my personal favorite city I have seen so far, but I might actually think about dropping it for your trip and just stick with Rome and Paris. That would be one less city move.

The reason Venice to Paris by train is usually done as an overnight is that it's almost 14 hours! Are you sure you want to do that? If you decide to, then do it as a night train and get a 6-bunk couchette for your family and a 2-person private room for your folks?

I would have him bring his cane and walker, but look into renting wheelchairs in Paris and Rome so you have the information if you need it once there.

Do you have plane tickets yet? Where are you flying into? Out of?

No need to panic, I think you can get this pulled together The more simple you keep the plan, the easier it will be. Don't try to pin down daily activities, for that you can plan day by day once you've arrived. You just need to make sure everyone has their passports in order, get plane tickets, finalize the cities, and make hotel/apartment reservations. Concentrate on those first.
suze is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,916
Venice will be very difficult no matter where you stay. Bridges, steps, cobbles everywhere. He may have to just accept not seeing as much of it as the rest of you. You definitely need hotels, and fairly modern ones with elevators. At this late date, just use booking.com to see what has availability - you can filter for elevators, city center, etc. I'd really consider flying between Italy and praise.
janisj is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 02:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,270
In Venice, try to get a hotel in Dorsoduro. Fewer bridges to cross from the vaporetto stops and fewer people.
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Jul 14th, 2019, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 47
If Venice is a must, consider staying in Padua instead. It is a really under rated city in my opinion, and must more accessible for your father. There is a tram that goes directly to the train station, and an easy train ride to Venice. Your parents could enjoy the view in Padua while you and the children explore Venice for the day.
misskdonkey is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,410
I think, with planning that Venice is quite doable and will be wonderful for your parents.
As Peter S suggested, stay in Dorsoduro. Stay near Campo Margherita on the side towards the Vaporetto stop (if possible) or towards San Barnaba. The Campo is a large space, frequented by locals, children playing and people relaxing. It has outdoor cafes and restaurants and shops. It is close to a vaporetto stop and only a couple of blocks from San Barnaba with flower and fruit boats, and lovely views. They can easily take a vaporetto to many areas, including out to the Lido and back where they will have great views of Venice. They could even have lunch on the Lido. It is flat. They can take a vaporetto to the Academia bridge Vaporetto stop. (They do not have to go on the bridge.) The Peggy Guggenheim museum is right there if they want a little visit. Right at the foot of the bridge is also a good place to get a gondola ride and there is a little outdoor pizza place there.

I recommend staying in a hotel so someone could be there for advice for your parents while you are out. I can’t make a specific rec because my favorite hotel does not have air conditioning or elevator and in July, you will want air conditioning and for your Father, an elevator. Remember, when booking, their first floor is the second for us, so a first floor room would have stairs if there is no elevator.

Make reservations for dinner. It is customary and respectful. Calling ahead or stopping by even a half hour before will get you much better service. There are some pretty good restaurants in Dorsoduro.

Of course, your parents will want to see San Marco and Rialto. Go to San Marco. super early in the morning or very late in the afternoon when it will hopefully be less crowded. Just see Rialto from a vaporetto or gondola. Take a vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal really late, after dark, when everything is alight inside.
A little tip:
Vaporettos can get so crowded going towards Santa Lucia Station, especially at San Marco, you can hardly get on. Instead, get on going the other way. When the vaporetto returns, you will already be on it. You could also go a stop or two in the wrong direction, get off at a less crowded stop and get on going in the right direction.

A gondola is a great way for them to see the back canals and your kids will enjoy it too. Don’t skip it just because it is touristy. Do check for times of tide. You don’t want water to be too high to go under bridges and be stuck mostly in Grand canal.
Sassafrass is online now  
Jul 15th, 2019, 03:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,316
My husband has new mobility issues and uses a cane and sometimes a walker. He did use a wheelchair at the beginning as well. I wouldn't recommend the wheelchair in those cities - too difficult to navigate and uneven streets are very difficult.

I echo those that think a hotel might be better at this late date. You'll need an elevator and I know from experience they are more difficult to find in rental apartments. But also I assume you'll need a walk-in shower (you do) which is adding complexity to the short notice airbnb idea. Hotels in all those cities have family rooms which could work for you. And newer hotels will have proper disabled rooms with grab bars, etc.

Re where to stay - we're very familiar with all 3 cities. The next time we visit them I would stay in Dorsoduro (Venice) possibly somewhere near the Tiber in Rome (Hotel Sisto?) or I might stay around the Vatican as the streets are wider with fewer cobblestones (IIRC). In Paris probably in the 5th/6th near St. Germain des Pres.

It's going to be challenging I can assure you. We're in Stockholm now - after a long 24 hour travel day. Do request wheelchair assist in the airports for your FIL. Give yourselves lots of time everywhere --- especially in the airport as wheelchair assists can take longer (as it's sometimes done in a relay). And don't rush - that's when accidents happen. And have a great time! It can be done! (with planning and patience)

Last edited by Elizabeth_S; Jul 15th, 2019 at 03:31 AM.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jul 15th, 2019, 04:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6,386
I don't know how you would do Venice with a wheelchair or a walker with all the bridges and hordes of people. HORDES! Think of Rockefeller Center in NYC at Christmas! Sometimes you can't move.

Pepper_von_snoot is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mar 13th, 2011 11:23 AM
Aug 18th, 2008 02:29 AM
Feb 21st, 2008 12:32 PM
Sep 20th, 2002 04:59 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:45 PM.