Naples was unlike any other Italian city that I had previously visited. It’s a conglomerate of chaotic traffic on the road, and sometimes, on the sidewalks, of the streets crowded with people milling about, of beautiful and colourful architecture, and of the aromas of Neapolitan cuisine. It takes a minute to get used to but once you do it’s easy to see the beauty of the city.
I didn’t get to see nearly as much of Naples as I would have liked because I visited areas around the city for three out of the four days I was there.
I did visit the National Archeological Museum which has some important historical objects, including the Farnese Bull which was found in the mid 16th century at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. The Alexander Mosaic can also be found here. In 1831, during the excavations at Pompeii it was found in the House of Fawn decorated as a floor mosaic. Today its copy can still be viewed in Pompeii.
There are stairs that lead up to the museum, but there is a road that leads up there on the corner of the block. I had to drive slowly up because it is extremely bumpy due to all the uneven cobblestones.
Admission to the museum is free for visitors with a physical impairment and for one friend or family member. The museum has a large accessible bathroom, with lots of rolling space.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants surrounding the museum that will keep you busy.
Tip: It can sometimes be hard to find an accessible bathroom when wandering around the city, but because admission is free for wheelchair users, there is always the option of popping into the museum, having a look around and using the bathroom while you’re there.
After my morning excursions, I would spend a few hours with my friend just wandering the streets and admiring the city’s beautiful architecture.
Sidewalks and curbs
Cobblestone sidewalks dominate most areas of Naples. In some areas they are even more bumpy than the cobblestones in Rome. It can be tiresome to keep bouncing over them for hours on end, but I found that when I tilted my wheelchair backwards, it put less strain on my back. I was relieved whenever we came across paved sidewalks.
From the small section of the city I saw, most sidewalks had sloped curbs. Some of the curbs have a short incline, which makes them a bit steep. Sometimes, my friend had to give me a little push to make sure my chair wouldn’t start tipping back. In some areas the sloped curb is not always right on the corner where you would expect it to be. Sometimes it’s about five feet away on one side and then on the corner on the other side.
During the time I was there most restaurants closed after lunch around 2 or 3 pm and reopened for dinner around 7 pm. There are lots of outside dining options available with weather permitting. Some of the restaurants have one step to pass, but I found that the waiters were more than willing to give me a hand up.
There’s a vegan restaurant called Vitto Pitagorico on the corner across the street from the National Archeological Museum. I went there twice for some delicious vegan lunches. There is a single step to get in, but when I went around the corner to the side entrance and asked for help a small group of the staff assisted me up. I really wanted to try some new vegan food, otherwise I probably would have searched for the next restaurant that was accessible.
Accessible Transportation in Naples
I booked all my transportation through travel agency, Rome and Italy. It can get expensive, but I wasn’t sure how accessible public or private transportation was in Naples. The van that I ended up using had an electric lift and the rear, but no designated place for a wheelchair. It was just a small empty space where I had to park sideways instead of facing foreword. In addition to that, the van was not equipped with tie downs to keep my wheelchair securely strapped. The driver wrapped thin cable ropes around my chair and fastened them to the sides of the van, but my wheelchair still shook a lot, especially when we were driving over cobblestones. I was used to it by the third day, but if something were to happen I don’t think those flimsy ropes would have held up. Anyway, I managed, but it was not comfortable.
I saw that some of the city buses were wheelchair accessible, but I didn’t end up using them because I preferred to wander around aimlessly.
Accessible things to do around Naples
During my stay in Naples, I went to Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Baia.
Herculaneum and Pompeii are both accessible for wheelchair users. I’ve already written a detailed post about accessibility at both sites which you can read >here<.
Baia is a lesser known site, but I wanted to go there because I wrote my honors paper on Ancient Roman baths and during my research Baia kept popping up. In Ancient Roman times it was a spa for the elites. It’s super fascinating to a classics nerd like myself, but probably not to the general public.
I booked the Wheely Trekky through RomeandItaly because most of the site is inaccessible for wheelchair users. There are a lot of steps. It turned out that parts of the site were even inaccessible for the Wheely Trekky. I was unable to see the bathing areas of the complex, which was the whole point of going there. I was more than a little irked, since I was informed that I would need the Trekky to visit the site with no mention that the baths were inaccessible to the Wheely Trekky. To be fair, Baia was not listed on RomeandItaly’s website, so they probably had never tested it out there before. In the future, I will do extensive research to find out if places I wish to visit are accessible using alternative wheelchair methods, like the Wheely Trekky because this was not the last time during my trip that the Wheely Trekky could not access certain sites I had booked it for.
The ancient city of Baia has since become sunk under water, but statues and all sorts of other treasures are still preserved underwater. I had hoped to get myself on one of the glass bottomed boats, but unfortunately they are not wheelchair accessible as of yet. Hopefully this will change in the future because it sounds like it would be an amazing experience!
Have you been to Naples before? What was your favourite thing about it?