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Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

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Southern England
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Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Our situation is as follows. We are a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children), our daughter is 10 and is highly wheelchair dependent. We are able to pick her up and carry her up steps or stairs. She uses a manual wheelchair which we push, she is not strong enough to self propel.

We had decided that Rome was a place we should see as a family and that having a wheelchair should not stop us.

Our trip used British Airways, Romecabs, Albergo Santa Chiara.

British Airways; Not great on the way out, had to work hard to persuade them to take the folded wheelchair in the plane cabin. We did not want it in the hold; too high a risk of damage or loss. Allowed to board first for access, cabin staff watched us struggle rather than offer help. Similar negotiations on the return leg but had the most helpful senior flight attendant ( Thanks Tori) what a different experience thanks to one thoughtful person. (Maybe a lesson for all of us)

Romecabs, already highly recommended on TA forums and we were not disappointed. Enquired and booked by email, very prompt and clear reply. Minivan waiting on arrival, driver Marco was very safe, knowledgeable and attentive. Price was 55 Euros Fiumicino to hotel.

Albergo Santa Chiara, have posted review on the Hotels section.

Rome in a wheelchair....

We knew what it was going to be like, lots of cobbled streets, steps etc and lots of walking/rolling. We booked the hotel as it was very central and we could then get around without using transport. We were pleasantly surprised that all the things we wanted to see were much closer together than we had anticipated . Cannot comment on buses, trams or trains.

We visited St Peters,Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Colosseum and lots of just wandering about.

St Peters, a few steps up to security, then lift (elevator for our North American cousins)up to main areas.

Vatican Museums, easy entrance and attentive staff but more complicated inside. Had to hunt down a lift/elevator to get us to the Sistine Chapel, staff happy to help once you had asked but not very proactive. Lots of very busy places especially the chapel. We arrived at about 1pm, no queue straight in, two minutes wait for security, two mins for tickets.

Pantheon, dead easy - ramp up into building and all flat inside.

Spanish Steps, good to look at from the Piazza below.

Colosseum, much easier than we had thought. Flat entrance and some ramps inside and around the bottom level. Big easy lift inside to get up to higher level.

If you are a wheelchair user I hope this report helps, don't forget we are able to carry our daughter separate from the 'chair when needs must. If you self propel Rome could be hard work; cobbled streets, often uneven surfaces, shops and restaurants with steps up to get in, potential problems with transport. We did not see many other people with wheelchairs.

The Romans did not build Rome with us in mind!

But as many people have said it's all about an attitude of mind. Is it worth putting up with the difficult parts to experience the good stuff.

Did we enjoy seeing Rome? Absolutely.

Would we recommend it even in a wheelchair? Absolutely - but do your research first.

I will try to answer questions as best I can if you leave posts. Thanks to all those who left us information when we started planning the trip.

Best wishes, Bob and Family.

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1. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Good information Bob, I'm glad to hear you had a good time.

What kind of research/resources did you use before departing for Rome in order to be prepared for accessibility issues?

Southern England
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2. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.


Wow, fastest reply to a post ever!

Research on accessibility was from TA forums, TA hotel reviews and pictures and not much else to be honest. We knew that Rome not built for 'chairs but also knew we just had to go.

Did look at one or two places on google images.


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3. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Well I'm glad you had fun, Rome is a great city with so much to offer. When people ask about accessibility I find that a lot of the web resources I can point them to are 3 to 5 years old. I know that Rome has it's limitations but I've seen vast improvements there in the last 10 years when it comes to ramps and other accessibility issues. It still has a long way to go though!

Rome, Italy
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4. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

I remember when you began your research. Glad to hear the trip went so well!

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5. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

I'm so happy your daughter and you had the chance to see Rome and it was not a nightmare.

You planned well and had the right approach, bravo. I think the worst part especially in the neighbourhoods where people "live" are the cars parked anywhere anyway. Also pushing a baby stroll makes u upset.


Augusta, Georgia
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6. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

We are so happy to hear that you had a great trip. Traveling by wheelchair does take extra planning, but is well worth the time and effort. We have traveled in many European countries during the past three years,with my mother-in-law in a wheelchair. We are heading to Italy this summer! We just research and do as much pre-planning as possible. Then you just go for it and take a good sense of humor with you! Thanks for your good tips!

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7. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Bob, I was so happy to read your report and hear of your success! In the past 6 months, there have been many inquiries concerning the use of wheelchairs. Maybe this will encourage others.

After visiting Rome and Paris, I came home with a greater appreciation for the Americans With Disabilites Act. In 1973, we were on vacation in Washington D.C and got into a conversation with a fellow tourist from Australia. He was very impressed with how accessible thing were. Now, I understand his appreciation.

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8. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Hi Bob and Family,

Sounds like we will be in a similar situation to you with our 11 year old son, though heading to Rome from downunder!

All the above advice will be very useful. One question, did you move around Rome on foot/wheelchair only to reach all these places or use Romecabs to get to Vatican etc?We are staying very near the Colosseum. Thank you for any further advice

Southern England
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9. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

Hi SydneyBarker,

Always glad to help our Aussie cousins!

Time to get out the map!

We stayed pretty close to the Pantheon and walked everywhere. ( I use walked even though our daughter is in a wheeelchair - apologies if it offends.)

We only used Romecabs for the airport transfers - excellent.

We were pleasantly surprised by how relatively close together all the bits we wanted to see were. As you can see we did plenty in just under 3 days. If you stay close to the Colosseum even walking to the Vatican is not a real hardship.

My honest advice: Walk as many places as you can - you see much more of the detail of the city - and it's fun.

Beware: Lots of cobbled/uneven streets so your son may get bounced around a bit more than usual.

Check out the access in the hotel.

Does your son use a manual or powered 'chair. The latter could be difficult.

We hope you enjoy planning the trip and then the trip itself.

If you think of any other questions - leave a message on this thread, I'll be glad to help if I can.

Cheers, Bob

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10. Re: Rome with a wheelchair. Report.

I took my mother to Rome 2 years ago, I remember for St Peter's there being a ramp for wheelchairs to the right (as you face it), I don't recall any steps.

Vatican Museum was not 100% accessible to all exhibits. Lifts were few and far between, with a lot of back-tracking required.

The Forum - getting in and out was an ordeal due to the large boulder-like paving stones at the entrance facing the Colosseum, a couple from Beijing offerred their assistance and helped lift the chair with mum in it. The exit at the opposite end was pretty rough as well but a group of American college students came and lifted the chair and carried it with mum in it. Once inside the forum and Palatine Hill has some rough spots and also areas that are okay. At least mum got to see what she wanted, but without the help of others it would not have been done.

Borghese Gallery - Unless the person in the wheelchair can stand for short periods you will be limited in access to the main floor, as the lift cannot fit in a wheelchair.

Castel San Angelo - very limited access, basically just the battlements along the upper walls, no access to internal buildings.