Dear Editor,

I have a client with a wheelchair and walker with very little mobility that plans to travel to Italy with his mobile wife. She will be doing the pushing so cobblestones are a problem. He does not require roll-showers, etc. but hotels with lifts or ground floor rooms are a must–ie. no stairs.

In Rome and Florence I can easily find hotel descriptions with handicap rooms but traveling through Tuscany on the way to Venice with pension-type accommodations are more difficult.

This is probably the last trip they will take with a small amount of spontaneity and semi-independence. So I am looking for help in the small towns between Tuscany and Venice itself. Also, can the train handle a wheelchair from Venice to Milan?

Thank you, Patricia Snyder

Cobblestones are definitely going to be a problem! I know of three different, completely able-bodies visitors to Italy who broke or twisted ankles simply walking across cobbled plazas. Unfortunately, Italy is not the easiest place for a wheelchair user to get around. Still, it is not impossible.

There are several hotels in Tuscany I can suggest that do have wheelchair access. This does not mean grab bars in bathrooms or lowered switches, but simply access to rooms without encountering stairs. In Siena, try the Jolly ExcelsiorHotel (05-77-288-448). In Florence, the Holiday Inn (39-55-6571), Excelsior (39-055-264-201), and Sofitel (39-055-238-1571) shoud all meet your requirements as well.

As for Venice, only 4 bridges are wheelchair accessible (via lifts) and boats (most public “vaporetto” boats have chair access) are a must to get from place to place. The only hotel I know of that will be suitable is the Minotel Diana (39-41-520-6911).

The train station in Venice is accessible, as is the train to Milan.