My last post on accessible Venice tours in a wheelchair attracted some interest! So here are some other insights. I hope it will help enjoy our city!
Use boats in Venice when you visit in a wheelchair
The public transportation boats, called “motoscafo” or “vaporetto” are wheelchair-friendly. They dock at platforms that adjust to the tide. They are connected to the embankments via metal ramps. Sometimes it happens the boat does not perfectly align to the floating platform. No worry! The boat weight varies according to how many passengers it is carrying at the moment. In this case, the sailor will help you get on and off the boat.
The cost of public transportation is quite low. You need to buy the tickets ahead of time, as not all boat stations are provided with a booth to sell the tickets. Consider your escort will ride for free. Each ticket is valid for 90 minutes once you punch it.
There are also private water taxis that are designed to carry people on a wheelchair. They have a platform that goes up and down. These boats allow you to have a personalised service, tailored to your needs and wishes. The cost is higher than that of public boats, but the boat can dock at private piers and often is the only way to avoid bridges and reach some attractions in town.
Finally, you can refer to the Sanitrans transportation. They can guarantee transfers and also real tours. You need to book in advance and availability depends on the time of the year and your needs. Costs are slightly lower than a private water taxi.
What more tours can you do after the ones I proposed in my first post?
Day 3: The Grand Canal, the Rialto area and its markets
In the morning, when the rush hour is in the opposite direction, get on a vaporetto by St Mark’s square and start a cruise along the Grand Canal, the most beautiful street in Venice.
If sitting on the left hand side of the boat, you can admire the Church of Salute, Palazzo Dario, the Guggenheim collection, Ca’ Rezzonico, palazzo Pisani Moretta, Ca’ Corner della Regina and the Fontego dei Turchi, among several others.
If sitting on the right, you will enjoy Palazzo Grassi, the Palazzos of the Mocenigo, the huge Ca’ Grimani and the astonishing Ca’ d’oro and many more…
I suggest a stop at the Rialto markets on a regular weekday (avoid Sundays and Mondays). You can explore (and no steps in between) the food markets. Enjoy the seafood, get some fresh fruit and move to the ancient “bazaar”. Why not stopping at some of the artists’ showrooms in the area? You can see glass jewels, goldware, watercolours and more! While everyone has heard of the Rialto bridge, not many remember that Rialto was once the name of the whole city. It would be later shifting to address the trading and financial centre of Venice. An amazing place indeed: here everything could be found, even if nothing was from here. I love stopping at the traditional bacaros, too: enjoying a glass of good wine while tasting the cicchetti, delicious appetizers based on seafood, salami, cheese or veggies.
Day 4: The Frari church, Santa Maria Gloriosa and the Scuola of San Rocco
If you get off at the water bus stop San Tomà, then you can reach these true art jewels with no steps or bridges. A couple of steps at the entrance: ask for help inside the church to get beyond these two steps and you can easily visit the main Franciscan church in Venice. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary reaching her glory in Heaven, the church features important devotional works by Bartolomeo Vivarini, Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Donatello among the others.
Bring a binocular to help you enjoy the details. Ramps inside help you reach the altar and admire the wonders of inlaid wood decorating the choir stalls.
The side chapel of the Pesaro family is also possible to visit if again you ask for help, otherwise there are two steps to climb and go down.
As for the Scuola Grande San Rocco…
The Scuola Grande San Rocco managed to preserve the incredible painting and sculpture treasure even after Napoleon Bonaparte decided to close down all brotherhoods in 1807. The powerful and wealthy fraternity invested its energy, time and money to decorate the inside with art works, often neglected by most of the visitors in Venice. Jacopo Tintoretto’s paintings of the Old and New Testaments as well as the wooden sculptures by Francesco Pianta are visible to guests in a wheelchair. You will need to use the transportation provided by the museum that will climb the main staircase. You will then visit the hall of the Albergo and the main room upstairs easily.
Please follow me to my next post, for more tours in Venice in a wheelchair!
by Luisella Romeo
registered tourist guide in Venice, Italy