Golf cart tour
Rome is rather big, I read that most people walk 5-7 miles a day when they are visiting here, and that doesn’t surprise me. Save your feet, your arms, or your battery and hop aboard the 4 wheeled stallion.
Golf cart tours combine the best features of a car driving tour and the leisure of a walking tour. The carts are allowed to drive practically anywhere, and the driver will drive the clients right up to the front door of the sites to visit. It also boasts the advantage of free-parking in Rome’s ‘blue-line’ parking spots. It allows you a good shot of seeing most of Rome’s famous wonders in just one day. You can get from the hills of ancient Rome, visit the squares, churches and fountains, and still have time to head to the outskirts of the city for picturesque views and a break from the crowds.
Many of these golf carts are equipped to play host to your wheelchair, cane, crutches, oxygen tank, or the most terrifying travel companion… Children. Just kidding! But they are perfect for everyone to have the opportunity to feel the wind blow through your hair and enjoy the envious looks of those lowly peasants just walking around Rome
It’s iconic, right? Obviously you’re going to get a picture in front of it, but the real beauty and curiosity lies within. The building is so magnificent and you would think that something built around 2,000 years ago was not designed to handle my motorized steed-but it was surprisingly accessible and definitely worth the trip.
The Colosseum’s handicapped accessible entrance is right at the main gates, and disabled tourist will be able to scoot right past some of the lines! Once you get in, there is an elevator that will take you to the upper floor for a great view. A small downside is that you won’t be able to exactly circumnavigate the lower level in a wheelchair because there are some steps, but other than the small hiccup, it is totally worth it to check out this archaeological masterpiece. Plus, you can basically just pretend your wheels are your chariot, and you are entering the ring as royalty!
Many Catholics hope to visit the Vatican at some point in their life. But even for the nonreligious there are plenty of good reasons to check it out. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and I still haven’t figured out exactly how, but about 800 people live here. This place is packed with some of the world’s greatest artwork, stories, history, and to be totally honest – no one should miss an opportunity to see the Swiss guard in all their glory.
It can seem a little bit intimidating to visit here with approximately 20,000 visitors a day passing through the museums, and even more just visiting St. Peter’s Square. It is pretty easy to rent a wheelchair when you arrive but unfortunately, the rest of disabled access isn’t exactly a total breeze.
You can kind of break up the visit into two pieces: St. Peter’s Basilica, and the rest— Sistine Chapel, Vatican museums, and the Rafael rooms. If you book a regular tour there is an excellent path that takes you through all these places in a very logical and orderly fashion. Unfortunately, that route does not allow those of us that sport wheels to accompany them. If you choose to do a self-guided tour you will need to take a 1 km walk outside between the two pieces. You also need to check-in with the employees who will help you find the lifts and help navigate to the best of their ability.
What I would really recommend here is to hire a tour guide. Most tour guides know the accessible route through the Vatican. You actually end up working backwards from the way that the normal tour goes. I was pretty upset to learn that I was unable to join along in a group tour and had to spring for a private tour because wheelchairs are not accommodated. However, I am so glad that I went because it has some great perks. It’s not that much more expensive to get a private tour here, and you get to see some of the off-limits, restricted access that other people don’t get to see!
I know this destination is a little bit more work, but when I think about what adventures to embark on I consider the effort in what it takes to navigate the situation. Is all the hassle worth it? Sometimes it’s resounding no. In this case, it most definitely is worth it. Who knows, you might even meet the pope.
With 135 monumental stairs the Spanish Steps are known as one of Romes most popular tourist attractions. This elegant attraction was inaugurated in 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII to link the Spanish Embassy to the Church of Trinità dei Monti. Hence: Spanish Steps.
Now here’s what you’re going to want to do, get out of your wheelchair, throw your cane, ignore any chronic pain or fatigue, and run to the top. Just kidding! This might definitely be one of those attractions you skip. I imagine the view from the top is beautiful, but you can be damn sure unless four hunky Italian men are carrying me up and serenading me with their sweet, sweet voices I will not be finding my way to the top. We are just so lucky that cameras do a great job and can give us a real excellent idea of what it is like! This is a great example of one of those attractions that I think the effort might not be worth it.
Um… there’s a hole in the roof. Well actually, there is, but it is breathtaking! Even Michelangelo said that it looks more like the work of angels, not humans. The Pantheon is said to be the best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments, and historians are still a little puzzled how it evaded destruction in the barbarian raids, among other things. The most fascinating part of this wonder is its gigantic dome and its perfect proportions. The distance from the floor to the ceiling is exactly equal to its diameter. Which, by the way is 142 feet (the US Capitol dome is 96 feet for comparison). The 16 massive Corinthian columns outside weigh over 60 tons each, are 39 feet high, have a diameter of 5 feet, and were brought all the way from Egypt. The columns were dragged about 65 miles from the quarry to the Nile, then floated up the Nile, barged and taken across the Mediterranean, and then floated up the Tiber river to make their way to live gloriously in this architectural masterpiece.
I’m gushing, I know. Something about it is so impressive to me. It’s even more impressive because everything about it is wheelchair accessible! I mean, there are no bathrooms in this Pagan temple turned church but the restaurants and businesses around the area are all flat and have no steps to enter the businesses. We are still in Rome, so there will be some cobblestones to navigate, but because this is a high tourist attraction the roads and sidewalks are well taken care of.
Put this on your list and definitely enjoy the ease in which you get to experience this great architectural achievement.
Campo de Fiori
Plenty of history including public executions, and maybe a burning or two, but now it is known undeniably as Rome’s most famous open air market. Operating since 1869 it provides a great place to have a snack, find a souvenir or gift, or enjoy some excellent people watching. You will find fishmongers, flower sellers, vegetable vendors, and numerous wine bars, and pubs making this an ideal meeting point for tourists and locals alike.
There are some cobblestones to be negotiated, but there are definitely sidewalks and flat areas that lend themselves to some smooth rolling.
Rome is a wonderful city that provides opportunities for travelers of all abilities to have a good time. These are some of my favorite accessible attractions in Rome but remember that you don’t have to do or see anything to have the ultimate travel experience. If you are feeling pressured or worried about that check out what I had to say on The Myth of the “Must-See”.
Possibly the biggest bonus to these attractions is that they are all free to visitors with viable disabilities and their companions (most sites list these as a wheelchair or walker, but presenting your blue handicap plackard will often work just fine.) Of course, the tours are not free, but the entrance into the attractions themselves will allow you to save a little bit of money.
Travel on friends!