RomeBy Daisy Sunderalingam -
Prior to travelling to this beautiful city I investigated the web – looking for all advice, tips and guides for the disabled. A lot of information on accessibility in Rome exists, however I was still not quite prepared for what was in store!
Firstly, arriving at Ciampino airport was relatively stress free. I hadn't pre-booked assistance but it worked out fine as the airport is quite small, not much walking needed and staff are available to take you to the front of the customs queue once you've landed. If you have a mobility issue and don’t use a wheelchair or walk with an aide, I would suggest you take ‘evidence’ of your disability with you for these situations. I have a walking stick which can sometimes be easily missed, so I carry my Blue Badge and doctors letter in case I need to ‘prove’ my condition.
My partner and I were on a budget and so we decided to get a coach for €4 each into Rome city centre. You can get a taxi within the city walls for a flat rate of €30 but many of the taxi drivers will try and disobey this law, sometimes charging more than €40. The coach stop is approximately 200m from the exit and if, like me, you have trouble standing there are seats available to use before boarding.
For me the coach journey wasn’t too uncomfortable; it was bearable for the 40 minutes to Termini Station. We then took the train from Termini to Marconi, where we stayed for the weekend. The train was pretty easy to use, and there were lifts and escalators at most stations we visited.
On our first day we visited San Pietro where we picked up a little electric car from Buzz 4 Tours http://www.buzz4tours.com/en/home/ . I found it to be perfect for my mobility needs. My partner, a competent and careful driver, was more than happy driving us around Rome. It was a great experience and I would not have managed without it. Plus, it worked out better than the other tours available, which were way above our budget and did not offer the same flexibility or value as Buzz 4 Tours.
Visiting St Angel’s Castle was fairly challenging. The uneven road across the bridge, the short pavements either side, and the hordes of people add to the difficulty of the walk. I am aware there is an elevator inside the castle, however we didn’t venture inside as the travelling we had done earlier was taking its toll on me. Even with transport, each site demands a lot of walking!
The Coliseum was by far the most accessible attraction in Rome. We parked close by and were able to bypass the queue of people waiting outside. We went straight to a ticket window and were given one free disabled ticket and one free carer’s ticket. We again walked past the lines at the ticket barriers with ease and followed the ‘disabled route’ signage. I appreciate when staff are trained well at spotting and helping disabled visitors, it makes life much easier and bypassing a line of people somewhat stress-free.
A lift was accessible to the first level providing sufficient access for those with varying disabilities. Inside the trails were smooth and would therefore work well for wheelchair users, however outside uneven paving and cobblestones could prove difficult for wheelchair users as well as those like me who have weaker footing. Additionally, I would have benefitted from some sort of seating that could have enhanced my stamina and afforded me more time to explore this amazing monument.
To reiterate, even with transportation there is still the need to walk to and around the sites which can be tiring for most people – regardless of disability. Rome is a beautiful and enchanting city, and with more time and energy I hope to revisit and tackle the attractions missed on this trip.
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