The Coloseum at Night
Photo by: Marin Petrov (Stock Exchange)

Hello, all! After Disabled Travelers’ recent adventures throughout Africa and in Egypt, we’re heading to a whole new locale today: Rome. This city, with its ancient monuments dating back thousands of years, its amazing churches, and its spectacular food is visited by four million people – and a good many of them are handicapped travelers with special needs. We’ll be exploring wheelchair accessible Rome today, and in the future we’ll wander through the countryside and see what there is to see in Florence and other major destinations.

Slow Travel has a series of articles on Rome featuring writer Mary Murphy-Hanson sharing her disabled travel experiences throughout the city. Her travelogues include a look at ancient sites like the Colosseum and Forum, the Jewish Ghetto, the city’s museums, and more. The guide also includes useful maps and a general overview all about preparing for an Italian getaway. There’s also a brief travelogue at Apparelyzed.

Though some of the ancient sites are surprisingly accessible, one of the big challenges is finding conveniently placed wheelchair accessible hotels in this crowded city. There are a few good options, but Rome being the hub of tourism that it is, be warned that the high quality of desirable hotels will be attended by a steeper than average price. Also know that in terms of sheer distance, much of Rome is paved in relatively uneven stone or bricks that will mean more work for wheelchair users and their travel companions.

Once you’re over the sticker shock, though, take comfort in the fact that there are quite a few accessible options for your stay. Some of these include Hotel Mercure Delta Colosseo, a four-star hotel only a little ways from the Colosseum, and the Best Western Hotel Universo, which reportedly has good wheelchair accessible features and Wi-Fi. For more information on hotels, accessible transportation, and attractions both old and new, check out “Rolling in Rome” – which also has recent, specific tips on streets to use and avoid, and how to approach several of Rome’s antiquities for best access. Though this review isn’t complimentary about Rome’s efforts to provide accessible travel, it does note that wheelchair riders are advanced to the front of most, if not all lines.

For a full-service tour operator with equipment rentals, try Accessible Italy. They offer tours through Rome, Venice, Florence, and ancient sites from the art scene. They can also help plan and set up wheelchair accessible weddings or sports events for rollers. Travelocity, a great company but one not generally known for handicapped travel, has another access guide on Rome that might be useful. It also tipped me off about Secret Walks in Rome, a company that provides guided tours that can be made accessible. Secret Walks does not have a site I could find, but you can read more about them in this New York Times travel advisory.

Finally, try Just Italy, a massive travel guide to the entire Italian “boot” that has lots of information to help you enjoy the culture and experience. You can read about the language, art, health system, cuisine, sports, and a collection of other interesting topics. From the practical perspective, find maps and touring info over the entire country, and articles about getting visas and avoiding bureaucratic issues – always important!

Next time we’ll move into the Italian countryside with a view of two of the country’s other most famous places, Florence and Venice. Until then, arrivederci – and adventure on!


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Comment by jerry richard

Posted on August 25th, 2011

I need to rent 2 electric mobility scooters near the vatican. My wife and I will be in Rome in early October 2011 and would like to stay at a hotel near the vatican. The electric scooters are the only practical way for us to get around. Any info would be greatly appreciated. thanks

Comment by Si

Posted on September 1st, 2011

Hi, Jerry,

For some help with your question, check out this discussion thread at TripAdvisor’s Italian site:

You might also repost your question there to ensure it gets attention from other travelers who’ve been to Rome recently.