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Statia Nov 18th, 2005 07:10 PM

Wheelchairs in Rome?
For any of you who have been following my questions about taking my fairly immobile mom on a once in a lifetime dream trip to Rome, I've been trying to figure out the logistics of cabs, buses, etc. in order for her to get around since she cannot walk very far at all.

Well, my bright DH came up with the idea of just renting a wheelchair for the duration of our stay. That way she would be able to sit when she needs to (which would be often) and when she can't walk far, sis and I could just wheel her where we need to go (the extra exercise would mean more gelato, right?). We might not even have to take public transport at all going this route since sis and I are used to walking everywhere and have the stamina to push Mom along.

So, my question is two-fold:

-Any recommendations for wheelchair rental for a week in Rome?

-Has anyone else attemped this, or seen it done, and does it seem feasible to push someone all over Rome in a wheelchair, considering the cobblestone streets and such?

As you can tell, I am bound and determined to make this trip happen for my mom, come hell or high water. :)

Appreciative of any and all advice. Thanks!

WillTravel Nov 18th, 2005 07:17 PM

Statia, I'm fairly sure this topic has been discussed at SlowTrav. I hope you can find a solution. One concern would be with crossing the street, which can be hard enough for fleet-footed pedestrians.

Perhaps this site would be helpful:

kybourbon Nov 18th, 2005 07:35 PM

Rick Steves has a web page about disabled travel.

Statia Nov 18th, 2005 07:46 PM

Thanks! I'll look into both of those. I've just not found anything specific about wheelchair travel in Rome in my guidebooks, other than lack of facilities in hotels and restaurants, which wouldn't really apply since she is not totally disabled and can walk somewhat.

I will look into both of those sites. :)

kakalena Nov 18th, 2005 07:50 PM

I've been wondering how Italian disabled people get around too. Rome, Florence and especially Venice. The following are reposted from another forum. (I couldn't link to them)

A "Quickie" tour of Rome
A friend and I spent eight days in Rome the first week in November, 2005. I'm a para and use a lightweight manual chair;my friend is abled bodied but hard of hearing. Our travel arrangement is this - I'm the talker- he's the walker..and it's worked well over several trips to Europe and New Zealand.

We planned well for Rome, but even so, I was unprepared for the extensive and somewhat vexing negotiations of cobblestones throughout the centro storico, especially in the area of the Coliseum, and St Peter's square. At one point I was reduced to pushing backwards over the cobbles in the area surrounding the Coliseum, since my front casters got stuck with every push and the prospect of pitching out of my chair onto the stones did NOT appeal. But having a sturdy friend to push, pull and sometimes drag me along helped immensely. That said, be prepared and have a wonderful time! We did all the usual tourist sites, and more. Went to the front of the line at the Vatican (excellent tour); visited St.Peter's twice, despite the problematic cobbles in the square, were invited into a monastary by two kindly brothers; met a lovely art professor at the Borguese Gallery who gave us excellent advice on what to see in the museum (and gave us a fresh picked herb bouquet from the gardens there).

We stayed in a small hotel on Capo de Africa, very near the Coliseum and with some great trattorias nearby. The room we had was wheelchair accessible, w a roll in shower and grab bars, very comfortable. Mrs. Khan, a Canadian emigre, runs the establishment and was very helpful in providing assistance and information whenever needed. Ramps were provided to give access to the dining and lobby areas and the breakfast buffet choices were quite delicious and generous. Rome was magical, all that we had anticipated. I recommend learning some Italian phases; I was able to communicate quite nicely with the very basic Italian I had learned prior to the trip- I found that if you speak Spanish, picking up Italian is not that difficult. We had many adventures - too many to describe here, but again, for such an ancient city, it was surprisingly accessible. See Rome- you will love it, cobblestones and all.

Wheelchairs in rome and florence
my friend and i have just returned from a week in rome with a day trip to florence. i am able to walk some but needed my wheelchair . the sidewalks and roads around the main sites are are very rough but not impassable. we were able to do everything with the help of some very kind people on the tour who stepped forward to assist with carrying the chair down the flights of stairs in the vatican and two of the men walk on either side of me as i walked down the steps. it was truly a miracle(i say this because it was the week of the pope's death) that happened during the week of easter.florence was more accessible as far as the churches and the art institute where the statue of david is.there are taxis that are adapt to carry wheelchair. i would go again and plan to do so. go ahead and go and enjoy everything just go with open eyes knowing there will be difficults but think of the adventure

Statia Nov 18th, 2005 08:02 PM

kakalena, what excellent information! Just what I was looking for. Thanks so much.

My mom is not disabled, but has difficulty walking very far, or doing stairs without a handrail. So, this info is immensly helpful.

I'm gathering that Rome is "doable" in a wheelchair, especially if one can walk at some points. However, my sister and I will be prepared for some fairly tough situations along the way.

Anyone else with additional info, feel free to weigh in.

Steve_James Nov 19th, 2005 02:03 AM

Statia - There is wheelchair-accessible public transport on some routes in Rome nowadays.

Can you read Italian? If so, I have some links which might be useful.


Statia Nov 19th, 2005 06:39 AM

Unfortunately I don't read Italian, Steve.

I think that with the wheelchair, we would probably be doing more walking than public transport and hopefully we could put the wheelchair in the back of a cab when we would occassionally need to take one.

Or, am I off base here? :)

Any further suggestions welcome.

Eloise Nov 19th, 2005 09:56 AM

It would seem important to find out in advance where you can rent a wheelchair in Rome.

Here is a translation of a text from an Italian organization dedicated to improving conditions for persons with disabilities. (It has a special section devoted to accessible tourism.)

&quot;The information desk “Rome for All,” [can be reached] by calling the telephone number <b>39 06 71623919</b>, [at which] qualified operators will reply, from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. [local time], in Italian, <b>English,</b>, French and Spanish to all questions regarding accessibility to monuments, museums, hotels, restaurants, theaters, movie theaters, and many other tourism organizations in Rome and the principal Italian and European cities.&quot;

They also have an e-mail address, to which one can address inquiries:

[email protected]

If they can reply in English on the telephone, I would assume that they can do so in an e-mail. They do not say anything specifically about wheelchairs, but they can probably head you in the right direction.

Many if not most Italian taxicabs are relatively small; for this reason, it might be advisable to rent a collapsible wheelchair for your mother.

(The suggestion to rent a wheelchair was made in a message in this forum from Gabriele on 11/10/2005:

Author: gabriele
Date: 11/10/2005, 07:05 am
Sightseeing in Rome requires a LOT of walking. Have only done this in the U.S., but the way we were able to travel with an older uncle who had limited mobility was to rent a wheelchair for the vacation. He had never used a wheelchair before but was delighted with his ability to keep up, for the first time in years, with the rest of the family.)

Statia Nov 19th, 2005 10:07 AM

Thanks so much for the info, Eloise! After reading the post by gabriele, I think renting a wheelchair for the duration of the stay is the best route to go.

I have also emailed the organization you recommended, along with a couple of others I found online. Hopefully I'll hear something back soon so I can get this trip booked.

Thanks again for the info.

quigs Feb 27th, 2006 01:46 AM

Dear Statia I have been searching the net and came across your question. I am in exactly the same dilemma. We are also taken our mother-in-law who is fairly immobile for a lifetime trip to Rome. I would truly appreciate if you can let me know contact details of renting the wheelchair, and how you found using a mobile for getting around. I am going on the 14th March. Many thanks Sharon

Mcsampa Mar 2nd, 2006 01:30 PM

Hello Statia
I am also planning to take my mother to rome in May and it is the same story as yours. She can walk,but wiht a cane and not far, so I was thinking about renting a wheelchair. Have you found a place to rent? any other info I would appreciate. My e-mail is [email protected]
thank you Celina Sampaio

kayd Mar 2nd, 2006 02:02 PM

A wealth of information and links from SlowTrav

Statia Mar 2nd, 2006 02:27 PM

Mcsampa, I just saw your message and apologize for taking so long to respond. I emailed several companies about a wheelchair rental and the only one who ever responded was Let me know if you can't find them with that link and I'll give you more detailed info.

I've been working with Miki there and she's been ever so helpful. We really wanted an automatic wheelchair, but it won't fit in the lift of our apartment, so we are having to go with a manual.

Also, I agree with the link that kayd posted. I have found SO much useful there for traveling to Rome with someone using a wheelchair.

Good luck with your plans, mcsampa. Let me know if you need any furthr info.

windance May 3rd, 2006 05:01 PM

Statia, did you ever make this trip? I'm trying to set up something similar for my mother-in-law and would welcome you're recent experiences.

The articles on SlowTrav are very useful. I contacted one of the companies listed on their site, and that co. quickly came back suggesting golf cart tours of Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps areas, as well as a reverse tour of St. Peters and the Sistine Chapel. I saw golf carts near the Via Corso last fall, but didn't get what was going on until that email. Further, Context Rome, which I used last year for Rome and Florence for myself (based on justifiable raves at this site), can put together private tours of almost any location. They also use a great car service from/to airport. I would go with either co. or a combo unless I learn more from you or someone else posting responses here.

My biggest problem is convincing mom that she will have a wonderful, unforgettable experience and to not be afraid. It would be great to share your mother's experiences with her! Thx

Jean May 3rd, 2006 06:57 PM

For those unfamiliar with wheelchairs:

If the impaired person will be wheeling him/herself, rent a wheelchair (large rear wheels and smaller front wheels). It's often easier to bring one's chair (or a rented chair) from home to be sure the size is correct.

If the able-bodied person intends to push the chair, rent a transport chair. All four wheels are generally the same size, the overall weight of the chair is much less, and it's easier to fold and lift into a car trunk or luggage area. Some chairs have wheels that are easily removed for even easier lifting and storing. Do not rent a chair that does not have brakes on the rear wheels.

Statia May 4th, 2006 06:16 AM

Hi Windance. Yes, we made the trip and it turned out wonderful, even if we did hit a few snags the first day or two. I thought I'd had every possible base covered, but with not having visited Rome myself, it was hard to know what to expect.

I rented a wheelchair thru They were very helpful and I highly recommend them. Although my intentions were to rent an automatic chair, the dimensions were too large for our apartment elevator and I had to go with a manual.

The wheelchair was very sturdy and made for Italian roadways, but due to the San Pietro stone in and around our immediate apartment area, I found that I was having a lot of problems with it, so we ultimately didn't end up using it.

My mom brought along a walker with a fold down seat and that really worked out wonderfully for her. She was able to walk when she wanted, yet could sit and rest at a moments notice. I'm sure we could have used the wheelchair in some other areas of town (piazzas, St. Peters, etc.), but we ended up just using the walker and it was fine.

Have you checked out Mary Hanson's pages on I found them to be very helpful in planning, even if some of her experiences were different than ours.

Overall, once we got a groove in the transportation issue for my mom, things went very smoothly. I'd be happy to give you tips on cabs and a private driver we used if you are interested.

Also, people were always very helpful with my mother's limited mobility and many sights took her/us to the front of the line or gave us a separate access due to her limitations. So, overall the trip was great and you should definitely go with your mom.

I'd be happy to answer any more questions or concerns you have.

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