For this second blogpost in our new accessible getaways abroad series, we’re visiting one of the most famous cities in Europe: the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome.
With its ancient ruins, street cafes and fantastic food, Rome is wonderful city to spend time in. While there are few issues for disabled visitors here and there (not least, cobblestones and those famous seven hills), don’t let that put you off. Most of the city’s most famous sites are accessible to visitors with various mobility requirements. So, with that in mind, here is Quingo Scooters’ guide to the very finest experiences that the Italian capital has to offer.
Relive the savage spectacle of the Colosseum
In a way it is incredible that the Colosseum is such a popular visitor attraction: it is after all the spot where many thousands of people (and animals) died horribly gruesome deaths. But then again that might be exactly why it still remains such a draw today. It is, of course, one of the most famous buildings in the world (Rome has more than its fair share of those) and you get a real sense of just how awe-inspiring a place it must have been in its heyday. Accessibility is generally good, although you won’t be able to take a wheelchair or mobility scooter into the cramped lower levels. There is ramped access to the ground level and a lift to the second floor.
Gaze in awe at the Pantheon
Apparently even Michelangelo himself was blown away by the beautiful Pantheon (and he must have been used to seeing some pretty remarkable buildings). The Pantheon is a truly breathtaking building: around 2,000 years old, it was first dedicated to Romulus, one of the founders of Rome. It has been added to and changed over the intervening years, but it is still the best preserved piece of ancient Roman architecture on the planet. The great news is that it is also very easily accessible for those of us using mobility scooters and wheelchairs, with a flat surface and a level entrance from the neighbouring piazza.
Did you know?
Many people think that concrete is a relatively modern invention, but in fact it has a much longer history. Both the Colosseum and the Pantheon make use of this versatile material, and the mix used by the Romans is actually stronger than many modern concretes. Incredibly, the Pantheon is also still the world’s largest free standing concrete dome: testament to the Romans’ remarkable understanding of this revolutionary building material.
Fall in love with the Galleria Borghese
Even in a city stuffed with treasures, Galleria Borghese is exceptional. This beautiful building was once the Villa Borghese Pinciana, home of the influential Borghese family for centuries. This is a remarkable art collection, and include priceless works by Titian, Raphael and Rubens. The accessible entrance is in Piazzale Scipione Borghese, and there is a lift to the upper floors. The team at Galleria Borghese recommend that you give them a call on 0039 068413979 to talk through any specific access needs you have. Entrance is free for wheelchair users and for one person who accompanies you.
The former gardens of the villa are also well worth a visit: they’re not far from the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo and were first created in the 1600s (although the public has only been able to enjoy them since the 1900s).
Explore the treasures of The Vatican
Bag two countries in one visit by popping over the border to the mini-state of Vatican City: the smallest in the world. The Vatican is, of course, a hugely popular attraction, not just among the world’s Catholics but also those who want to explore its artistic and architectural treasures. It is also a remarkably accessible place to visit for those of us who use mobility scooters and wheelchairs. Like many of Rome’s most famous attractions, it is completely free for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, but you will need to present your Blue Badge as proof of any disability in order to take advantage of this. There is a great visual guide to accessing the Vatican Museums here.
Have a coffee in a street cafe
When in Rome…. If all those crowds and the sightseeing gets a bit much, then do what the Romans do and take a regular coffee break. There are countless bars and cafes in Rome to choose from, many of them with seats on the street so you can sip your drink and watch the world go by.
A quick tip on coffee drinking in Rome though: keep it simple. Don’t bother asking for a fancy venti frappuccino or a grande skinny latte, as the Romans tend to drink simply ‘caffe’: a single shot of espresso. If you want to make it last a bit longer, then top it up with hot water (an americano) or have a macchiato if you like a bit of milk. Our recommendation is the Caffe Trombetta just off Piazza Del Popolo. It is on the edge of one of the larger more accessible piazzas and is a lovely place to rest and refuel for a while.
Getting to Rome
While it might not be quite true that all roads lead to Rome, if you are heading there from the UK it couldn’t be easier. Of course, carriers change their routes from time to time, but you can currently fly to Rome from Heathrow, Gatwick, Dublin, Leeds Bradford and Manchester. There are two Roman airports, the main one at Fiumicino (also known as Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci) and Ciampino. There are also regular accessible shuttle trains (the ‘Leonardo Express’) from Fiumicino into Rome’s central Termini station which takes around half an hour. A taxi will cost around €50.
General accessibility advice
Thanks to those cobbles and the hills, getting around Rome can be a challenge, and the public transport can also be tricky to get on and off. There are a few other options however: you could take an accessible tour around the city, which either use accessible buses or even golf carts to get you to the best sights in town! The Rome City Council are also taking measures to improve accessibility around the city: find out more here.
Share your accessible getaways abroad with us
Do you have any accessible getaways abroad recommendations? In Europe or perhaps further afield? If you do, we’d love to hear from you, so drop us a line and we’ll feature them.
About Quingo Scooters
The Quingo Scooter range features six models to suit your needs and budget. New models are now available from just £22/week on our new contract hire scheme which includes all servicing and maintenance, Insurance, Roadside Recovery, Call Outs and Consumables including Batteries and Tyres. For more information on this or the latest Quingo Scooter range, please visit our website. Alternatively, if you have any Service questions you can always contact us or call customer services on 01582 430 900.
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All Quingo Personal Mobility Vehicles are provided by Forever Active, the UK’s exclusive distributor. Forever Active is a trading name of Advantage Marketing Corporation Limited (AMC). AMC Limited is an appointed representative of First Senior Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. First Senior Insurance Services FSA Register number is 30847