How to Get Around Rome as a Wheelchair User

Despite Rome being an ancient city, it is far more wheelchair accessible than most people might think. It has all the accessible modes of transportation that one could find in any modern city. Sure, sometimes they might be makeshift accommodations, but the basics are there and from my experience, people are usually willing to lend a hand with getting in and out of vehicles if needed.

I’ve been to Rome twice now and so have had the opportunity to try more than a few public and private accessible transportation options. Here they are:

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Hotel Quirinale: A Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Review

I spent the last leg of my Italian trip in Rome, my favourite city. For the other cities I visited I had a tour agency make hotel reservations for me, but since I sort of knew the lay of the land from my last trip to Rome I decided to make the reservation myself for six nights.

Unless you are fluent in Italian, my experience has been that hotels there prefer prospective clients to send them an e-mail including the dates you plan on staying and what kind of room you require.

I picked this hotel because of its great location. It’s on Via Nazionale and is in rolling/walking distance of the Baths of Diocletian, Trajan’s Market, the train station, Termini, and the subway station, Metro. Still within walking/rolling distance, but a longer of walk is the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Roman Forum. It’s at least a 25-35 minute roll to those attractions. Continue reading

Wheelchair Accessibility in Rome

Whether or not you go on a guided tour, there is so much to do, see, and eat in Rome. If you use a wheelchair, like myself, then getting around Rome can present some challenges. In this post, I will discuss some obstacles you might meet throughout the city, different transportation methods, accessibility throughout the places I visited, and things I learned along the way. If you’d like to read about some of the accessible tours I went on in Italy, check out Part One here. Continue reading

Visiting the Baths of Caracalla, Villa of the Quintilii & Villa Adriana as a Wheelchair User

This post is all about my tours with Rome and Italy at the Baths of Caracalla, the Villa of the Quintilii, and Villa Adriana aka Hadrian’s Villa. If you haven’t already, be sure to read about accessibility at places such as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum >>here<<

Tour #3: The Baths of Caracalla, Rome

Background: Emperor Septimius Severus first commissioned the baths in AD 206 and after his death, Caracalla, his son, completed the baths in AD 216. The composition of the baths was typical of any Roman bath, including the frigidarium (cold water), the tepidarium (tepid water), and the caldarium (hot water), but on a much grander scale. The natatio (swimming pool) was next to the frigidarium and was open to the sky. In its day, the baths would have been decorated with marble, paintings, sculptures, and floor mosaics. On each side of the baths was the palaestra (gymnasium) where people could exercise. Libraries and gardens were also a part of the Baths of Caracalla. Continue reading

How To Get Around Ancient Roman Archeological Sites as a Wheelchair User: The Roman Forum, Colosseum and Ancient Ostia

I knew that since I’ve been studying Ancient Rome for the last three years at university that I wanted to pack in as much as I could during my eighteen days in Italy, because it will probably be a while before I visit there again.

The majority of my stay was spent in Rome with day trips to Ancient Ostia, Tivoli, Pompeii and Florence. There is so much to do and see there that the eighteen days flew by much faster than I wanted. I booked nine tours with the company Rome and Italy, and even though I was exhausted from the heat and sometimes got a bit cranky, I loved every single one of them. Here’s a list of the tours I went on:

  • Roman Forum and Colosseum
  • Ancient Ostia
  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Villa of the Quintilii
  • Villa Adriana (in Tivoli, close to Rome)
  • Pompeii
  • Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
  • Appian Way (opted out of a tour guide for this one), and
  • Castel Sant’Angelo

This post will focus on how I got around these ancient sites and on my first two tours of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum and of Ancient Ostia.

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Hotel Artemide – A Wheelchair Accessible Hotel in Rome

Let me start by saying this hotel is just fantastic. I was a little worried at first that I might encounter some physical barriers when I reached the hotel, but that wasn’t the case at all; everything was nearly perfect. I stayed at Hotel Artemide for seventeen nights; a long stay, but well worth it. The hotel is in a great location on Via Nazionale and is in within walking/rolling distance of a lot of big attractions. Nearby is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the Baths of Diocletian, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the National Roman Museum (Museo Nazionale Romano – Palazzo Massimo alle Terme), the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, and lots of shops and restaurants.

I’ll begin by describing the wheelchair accessible facilities of this hotel; starting with the entrance, the elevators, the rooftop restaurant: Ambrosia, the room itself, and the welcoming staff. There is a spa in the hotel, but because I didn’t use it I am not sure if it is accessible.

The Entrance

When I was searching for pictures of the front entrance of the hotel it looked as if the street and entrance blended into each other seamlessly; however, when I reached the hotel I noticed that there was a small lip, maybe about an inch or so high.

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My wheelchair managed to climb it easily enough, once I had the front wheels on, I just slightly reversed and accelerated a little and I was in business.

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Elevators

Many elevators that I encountered in Italy are on the smaller side compared to Canada; and that also is true for this hotel. However, my chair did fit in both of their elevators. They have a third elevator, but that one is probably an original from the time when the hotel was built in the late 19th century. It is still in good working order, and is pretty neat, but is far too narrow for the width of my chair.

First, so you can determine if your wheelchair will fit, I’ll give you the measurements of my wheelchair. The width from the back wheels is 25.5 inches. My tray and driving stick protrude out a bit farther than the wheels, increasing the width to 29.5 inches. The length, including the foot rests is 43 inches.

My wheelchair did fit in the door of the main elevator, but with little room to spare.

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The inside of the elevator is slightly larger and once I was in two of my friends could squeeze in, but it was close quarters.

The other elevator leads up to their rooftop restaurant, Ambrosia. That elevator is the same in width, but a bit shorter in length. I had about 1 inch to spare. If your wheelchair is longer and you really want to go check out Ambrosia you could always, if possible, take off your foot plates and that will give you an extra couple inches. It is really nice up there.

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And so is the view.

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There is a large step to gain access to the rooftop patio of Ambrosia, but when we asked if they had a ramp of some sort, they were quick to find it and lay it out for me. It remained there for the duration of my stay, which was nice.

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The Wheelchair Accessible Room

When I made the booking I requested a room with a roll-in shower and Hotel Artemide delivered. I also made some unusual requests of them. One was that if I could bring in a rented hospital bed (from www.specialneedsitalia.com) because I was worried that the legs of the lift that I also rented (from www.romeanditaly.com) would not pass through under the bed. Lots of hotel beds have a solid base which makes this impossible, unless they can rig the bed up on some strong support blocks made of wood or something, but that almost seems more complicated. The lift came with a sling, but I brought my own and used it in the room and used theirs for the tours.

Once we arrived at the hotel after the delay at the airport (Wheelchair Accessibility at Fiumicino Airport in Rome) we had to wait a short while for the room to finish being set up, but as soon as it was, everything was perfectly arranged. The hospital bed was there, fitted with the hotels bedding, the lift was parked by the bed, and the shower chair was ready to go in the bathroom. In order to get the bed to fit, the staff removed one of their beds and replaced it with the rented one.

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The sink was plenty high enough for me to drive under.

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The room has a second bathroom featuring a bathtub, which is good for the person that you’ll be sharing your room with.

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The room was large enough for me to move around comfortably without worrying about bumping into furniture. I had no trouble passing through the door of the room because it is a couple inches wider than that of the elevator.

The Hotel Staff

All of the staff at this hotel are excellent and they will do their best to make your stay perfect. On your behalf they can book tours, arrange transportation, and probably more if you ask.

Breakfast is complimentary and they have a large selection of yummy food to choose from. They even gave me a delicious fruit cake on my birthday.

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I really loved staying here, especially after a hot day of touring around. It was nice to come back and relax for a little while and then go exploring again.

Stick around for my next post about all the tours I went on with the company Rome and Italy.