Rome/Florence/Italy with an older person

Old Jul 18th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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Rome/Florence/Italy with an older person

My mother wants to go to Rome/Florence/Venecia in October. Unfortunately she cannot walk more than 2 medium size blocks before she needs to seat for a few minutes.

Any suggestions?
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 03:47 PM
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These are walking cities in essence. But you can try staying in a very central location and limit your walks. In Rome stay in the Centro Storico (near the Pantheon) and you will be able to walk to a series of landmarks. You can use a cab to reach the Vatican and other parts of the city. Note that some parts of the city are closed to cars. In Venice, if you can stay near Piazza San Marco, you can use the vaporettos to reach other landmarks (such as the Accademia, Rialto Bridge, etc).
In my mind Florence is the biggest challenge - I remember that I couldn't find any where a place to sit in the heart of the city without paying (besides the steps of the duomo or the ones in front of the Palazzo Vechio -There are benches on Santa Crocce Square though..) Just repeat the fromula. Be as central as you can to the landmarks and you might be ok. Just enjoy and be patient...
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 04:08 PM
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mmm - how deep are your pockets?

as I think the duchess of windsor said, you can't be too thin or too rich. and someone else said that whatever the disaster, it is made more bearable by having money.

so if you are able to access some dosh, this is doable.

but on the cheap? no chance.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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Reuben, does your mother have a medical condition that limits her walking or is it more a matter of being out of shape? If it is the latter, I suggest you pose a challenge to her to improve her stamina by walking just a little more each day. I don't know now soon you plan to go on this trip, but if it is at all possible, see if she can improve before you go.

There are walkers that have a seat on them, which could help. But it will be very hard for her, and you, too, if she is unable to walk farther.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 04:50 PM
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You should get her a wheel chair. It will be a bit rough pushing it over cobbles but I can't imagine seeing the sights if she can only walk 2 blocks. Even after you get to what you want to see you will still have to walk around inside. I found Italy to be lacking in places to sit unless it's a cafe.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 05:00 PM
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When we were in Rome, my Mom took the cab with my Aunt and we would meet them. We were only in Florence two days so when she didn't want to walk she sat in Piazza della Signoria and then just walked slowly back to the hotel.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 06:54 PM
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A couple of questions.

Why can;t your mom walk longer distances? is this a serious health issue that nothing can be done about? Or is she just in really bad shape?

If the former, get her one of those folding walker/seats - and she can stop every few blocks - when she must walk. And use taxis to get to and fro major sights.

If the latter, work with her to improve her fitness and walking. My mom was very ill last year and nearly died. In intensive care for weeks, then step down, then rehab. Coming out of rehab she needed a walker to get from the door of the hospital to the car - may be 100 feet. But her MD told her to walk as much as she felt comfortable doing without stressing herself. She now takes a walk of 8 to 9 blocks every day - dragging the walker - not using it. She's 90.

So even with serious health problems it is sometimes possible for seniors to recuperate.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 07:53 PM
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October is a great month for walking. Heat and hummity is mostly gone, the crowds are less, the gelato is cold, pizza hot and even taste of Rome, Florence and Venecia would be great at any age. Go for it, knowing beforehand the sights she/you really want to visit and not trying to seeing everything. For us "older" folk, after a morning of sightseeing, I would also prescribe a hot soak in the tub for aches and pains and an afternoon siesta to prepare for an evening of a few more sights, a great slow dinner, followed by another hot soak and a good nights sleep. This is what vacations are made of. Go for it.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 09:09 PM
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How old is she? Is this a genuine medical condition or is she just in poor physical shape? Europe isn't for the faint of heart when it comes to walking. If she's got some major illness, hire a wheelchair. If she's just in bad shape, help her improve her health by getting her out to practice walking longer and longer distances.

The reality is that in Rome or anywhere else in Europe you can't sit down every two blocks unless you want to be in the city center and pay for drinks at a café, and even then it may be longer than two blocks. It's not as though there are benches sitting out there for people to rest on. You need to be realistic about this.

How will she maneuver her way through the airports? These days it's not uncommon to have to be on your feet for an hour or two or more just to board a flight?
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 09:27 PM
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Here's a random thought - if a wheelchair isn't to your liking, would you consider a golf buggy for central Rome? I rented one about 10 years ago, just for fun and they'd just been introduced, and it made zipping (well, cruising rather than zipping, but whatever) around fun in the middle of Summer. I haven't seen them in great hoards of late, but think they are still around (the Segway tours seem to have taken off, however), so check the Free Mobility one at Borghese Gardens. There are also guided tours by golf buggy - I've not done one, only heard about it. Think they are special needs tours run by specific companies, the one I know of is Made to Measure tours.

Florence will involve walking, but the centre is compact and if in museums you will find places to sit.

Venice may pose a problem with the bridges, and it's not a good thing to sit on them - in fact it's part of the "Rules of Venice" that no-one should sit on them, but try telling that to the masses in Summer. At any rate, seating in museums will be there, but seating whilst walking around will be a difficulty. At least in October there are less people to contend with.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 10:39 PM
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Venice may be hard work, as there is no way to avoid walking. The bridges make it problematic, and there are very few places (other than cafes) to rest your legs. Churches can be a good respite, though, and at least there are no hills to climb. Pavements are generally pretty flat. Many hotels – most hotels – do not have elevators.

Maybe a small folding stool might be worth carrying – art shops have nifty ones that street artists use.

If you do choose Venice, get a good map. You need to see how far it would be to your hotel from the nearest drop-off point. Also you need to avoid getting lost!
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 03:31 AM
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NYTraveler: What an amazing story about your mother. My congratulations to her for her hard work and recovery. My mom is also 90 and can't do a thing. It's very sad.
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 05:11 AM
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Ruben,

How wonderful that your Mother still wants to do new things even though she has physical limitations.

My dear departed Mom had the same problem due to terrible arthritis throughout her body. I can't imagine what it would have been like to travel with her. Grocery shopping and doctor appointments were major outings for her.

I would actually suggest you look into tours. I know that most posters on this forum promote independent travel, and I would agree with them in most cases, but there are instances in which the services of a tour are invaluable.

There are tours geared for the elderly, perhaps check with AARP for recommendations. Beware of the 12 city in 12 days type trip, look for something geared towards a slower paced traveler.

Good luck and have fun! This could be a great trip for both of you with the right planning.
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 05:11 AM
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Ruben,

How wonderful that your Mother still wants to do new things even though she has physical limitations.

My dear departed Mom had the same problem due to terrible arthritis throughout her body. I can't imagine what it would have been like to travel with her. Grocery shopping and doctor appointments were major outings for her.

I would actually suggest you look into tours. I know that most posters on this forum promote independent travel, and I would agree with them in most cases, but there are instances in which the services of a tour are invaluable.

There are tours geared for the elderly, perhaps check with AARP for recommendations. Beware of the 12 city in 12 days type trip, look for something geared towards a slower paced traveler.

Good luck and have fun! This could be a great trip for both of you with the right planning.
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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How will she maneuver her way through the airports? These days it's not uncommon to have to be on your feet for an hour or two or more just to board a flight?>>

that's something that can be sorted, surely. I've been almost run over by enough of those buggies transporting disabled people round airports to know that transport CAN be provided there. it's after that that the problems start.

also, a tour is a really good idea if you can find the right one.

and what about this website?

http://rome.angloinfo.com/information/17/disabled.asp
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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My mil is 92 and still flies solo around the US to visit family. She always gets full assistance at every airport. They get her from gate to gate and make sure she gets on the plane. They take care of her luggage, but she has to check it, they don't want to have to deal with carryons. Anything she carries on is her responsibility. The airport people have been very nice to her, even stopped and made sure she was able to get to a toilet and get something to eat during layovers.
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 12:37 PM
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I have an elderly friend that wanted very much to go home to Hawaii to visit her family, but she couldn't manage getting around the airports, so I suggested and then set up the wheelchair reception for her at both departure and arrival airports. When she came back from that first trip, she said she felt "like a queen". She was met curbside and breezed through everything. Since then she's made several trips home...always as a queen, of course.

I'd suggest taking one of those folding camp stools, somewhat like this one:

http://www.amazon.com/TravelChair-sl...t_ai_ps_t3_t_2

They're made of aluminum and are very lightweight to carry. Unless your mother is severely overweight, the tripod design is very sturdy and can tolerate quite a bit of weight.
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