Italy is a beautiful country to explore at any time of year. The food is second to none and the culture is laidback and relaxing. This country has something to offer for locals, expats, and holidaymakers alike. From the unrivaled coastline of Amalfi, to the unique wonders of the Venice lagoon, Italy is bound to offer adventures you’ve always dreamed of. For older residents and explorers, the Italian pace of life is perfect. No need to rush around — just sit back with a limoncello or an Aperol spritz and watch the world go by. Although Italy is known for its winding medieval towns and cobbled streets, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your journeys around Italy are accessible and hassle free. Here’s our round up of the top Italian destinations for the older traveler, in collaboration with Compra Montascale, stairlift expert throughout Italy.
This UNESCO world heritage site is certainly not to be missed during your Italian adventure. Founded in the fifth century, this unique city is made up of over 118 small islands and is like nowhere else in the world! It is home to architectural wonders including the Bridge of Sighs, Saint Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge and the Doge’s Palace. If you are enthused by history or a big art lover, then you’re likely to fall in love with Venice and its surrounding islands.
As is expected with any world heritage site, Venice can get extremely busy with tourists over the summer months. The crowds, the bridges, and the labyrinthine streets can all be off-putting to older travelers or those concerned about accessibility. However, there are ways to see the wonders of Venice while avoiding the crowded calles.
Vaporettos and water taxis are readily available throughout the city and they are both great options for disabled visitors to see the sights of Venice. The vaporettos, Venice’s boat equivalent to a bus system, are designed to float at the exact same level as the floating docks, so there is a flat transfer from one to the other. Furthermore, there is always a vaporetto conductor onboard to offer a helping hand. The number one vaporetto route will take you right through the grand canal, so you will be able to see most of the famous Venetian sights on this journey. You can also take the vaporettos to the surrounding islands such as Murano (an island famous for its beautiful glass), Burano (an island full of brightly coloured houses) and Lido di Venezia (an island near the centre of Venice, home to the famous international film festival)
The Northern Lakes
Lake Garda and Lake Como are favourite destinations for older holidaymakers. They both offer a chance to get away from busy city crowds and enjoy a relaxing break with exceptional views. Both lakes have some first-class hotels and holiday rentals right on their shores, so you won’t have to travel far to take in the breathtaking landscape. Lake Garda can be accessed by car or train from the historic city of Verona and the journey should take less than an hour. If you opt for Lake Como instead, it is only a short train ride away from the metropolitan city of Milan and very easy to reach.
When you reach either lake you will be greeted by hotels, spas, and exquisite dining options. The ferries on the lakes are also wheelchair accessible, so you can enjoy cruising around the water.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday and gorgeous views, the Amalfi coast is a great choice. Although the coastal towns of Positano and Amalfi might be difficult for any travelers with physical disabilities due to their steps and hills, there are plenty of other options.
The nearby island of Ischia offers spa breaks and a relaxed environment, plus there are many accessible hotels to choose from. For those who want to enjoy the sun and take it slow, this island will be one you’re desperate to return to. If history is more your scene, you could opt instead to visit the nearby archeological site of Pompeii. The ‘Pompeii for All’ project has recently introduced three kilometers of smooth and accessible routes through the ancient site, so that it can be easily accessed by all.
Rome is another ancient city that is a favourite throughout the older generations. Rich with culture, history, wine, and amazing food, Italy’s capital is not to be missed! Although the winding cobbled streets might seem off-putting at first, there are many ways to enjoy the wonders Rome has to offer, with accessibility in mind.
The colosseum, one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, is a must-see and, luckily, is wheelchair accessible. Constructed around 70 AD, this impressive structure can hold up to 50,000 people and was the original arena of the Roman gladiators. Today, it is a wonderful place to learn all about ancient Roman history, and with a wheelchair ramp at the main entrance, it is easy for anyone to enjoy.
The Vatican City is another great location to visit when in Rome. As the headquarters of the Catholic church, the Vatican if full to the brim with historical insight, incredible artworks and religious relics. The Sistine Chapel, the official residence of the pope, is a particularly famous feature. It boasts the world-famous Michelangelo fresco, which many travel from far and wide to witness firsthand.
Although many entrances within the Vatican aren’t wheelchair accessible, they all feature side entrances that wheelchair users can enter by. Even if it is a bit of hassle to locate all the alternative entrances, the Vatican City is truly a sight to behold and it is definitely worth your while.
So, whether it is history you’re after, or a sunny beach holiday, Italy has something to suit all. The Italian infrastructure is also starting to adapt to the needs of disabled travelers more than it has in the past, so now is the perfect time to go and sample the Italian culture.