Navigating Naples

Wheelchair Accessible Travel in Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Pompeii 2006

Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha

© Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha 2006
 

I.  INTRODUCTION

This article is the fruit of our September 2006 trip to Naples.  It’s intended as an introduction, a starting point for your research and a way to convey realistic expectations.  We hope it will help you plan an access strategy based on your interests, budget and mobility capabilities and limitations. 

 

We also include information about the Amalfi coast and Capri, where we took day trips, and Pompeii.  For more information about wheelchair accessible travel in Italy in general, see Rolling in Rome, based on our 2003 trip, and Vicenza Voyage and Florence and Rome Update, based on our 2005 trip.  They are on the websites where this article is published.

 

In planning our trip we used the Internet and other information sources but not a travel agent.   We traveled on our own, not with a tour group. 

 

We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible, but of course accuracy is not guaranteed.  You should confirm all information, especially access details, directly with hotels, museums, transportation providers and other facilities.  As in all research, primary sources are much better than secondary ones.  We encountered gaps, errors and inconsistencies in access information, especially regarding transportation.  Quite often the facts on the ground are better than the information about them.  Also, things change.  It is essential to re-confirm information shortly before acting on it. 

 

Not all phone numbers in Italy have the same number of digits, making it especially important to double check phone numbers.  The country code for international calls to Italy is +39 and the area code for Naples is 081.

 

Because a person’s physical capabilities, limitations and equipment affect the access achievable and his point of reference colors his perception of access, we’ll tell you about ourselves.  We are fortunate to live in San Francisco, where wheelchair access is generally excellent.  Howard has muscular dystrophy and uses an electric wheelchair.  Michele is able-bodied.  On this trip Howard used a Quickie P110 folding electric wheelchair that is 25 inches  (63.5 cm) wide, weighs approximately 100 pounds (including the batteries, which are removable) and has gel cell batteries.  The footrests are elevating and removable; the wheelchair is 48 inches (122 cm) long with the footrests in the shortest position (including Howard’s toes protruding past the footrests by two inches).  Howard is six feet (1.83 meters) tall and, when seated, 57 inches (1.45 meters) high.  He cannot walk and can transfer to an inaccessible car only with great difficulty.  All other dimensions in this article are approximate; we did not have a tape measure.

 

A hotel access questionnaire is Appendix A.  You are welcome to adapt it for your own use.  A metric conversion guide is Appendix B.  A dictionary of key access terms in Italian and a pronunciation guide, both by Cornelia Danielson of Barrier Free Travel, are Appendix C (They are in standard Italian, not Neapolitan vernacular.)  This article and the appendices may not be reproduced or used for profit without our written permission, but readers are welcome to reproduce or use them for any other purpose.
 

A Call for Advocacy.  Researching your trip, the trip itself and the time after your return are great opportunities to educate and advocate for access.  If we learn in our research that a hotel, transportation provider or museum isn’t accessible and providing access appears feasible, or that something is accessible but could be improved, Howard often sends an immediate email with detailed recommendations.  On our trip we provide feedback in real time.  After we return we write detailed letters advocating better access, including appeals to government officials. We aren’t only critical - we try to acknowledge and appreciate good access, and we also recognize the logistical and architectural difficulties and limitations in making old buildings and ancient sites accessible.  Our communications have usually been well received and our efforts have helped spur access improvements.

                                 

            Howard has written letters to the mayors of Rome and Paris about access issues, including the need for more curb ramps, and to the Rome and Paris airports.  When writing to government officials, we send copies to local disability organizations if appropriate.  We’ve sometimes found that a request or recommendation from us, as foreign tourists, can lend additional credibility to similar advocacy by local individuals and disability organizations.  Sometimes our efforts add to the cumulative weight of those made by locals.  Ironically, it may be easier for officials to ignore or delay action on a complaint by a local than one by a foreigner.

 

We urge you to use your trip as an opportunity to help move the ball forward on wheelchair access - you will already have the information and the impressions will be fresh in your mind, so writing an effective letter or email won’t take much extra time.

 

II.       NAPLES – BACKGROUND, TERRAIN AND GENERAL ACCESS

 

Naples is blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful bays and coastlines, rugged and gentle hills, gorgeous vistas, and a sunny, mild climate; and cursed with an active volcano, Vesuvius, at its doorstep.  Many of the Italian immigrants to America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came from Naples and throughout the Campania region, and much of what comes to mind when Americans think of Italian popular culture and cuisine originated or at least flourished there – serious and light opera, popular song, Sophia Loren, pizza, pasta and ice cream.  It’s ironic, therefore, that many American tourists either bypass Naples entirely or stop for only a short time enroute to the Amalfi coast, Capri and the antiquities sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  What a shame! 

 

            This was our first trip to Naples, and we admired and relished the sights, the people, the cuisine, the natural beauty and the tangible marks of history.  Founded by the Greeks over 2,500 years ago and ruled by Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Germans, Angevins, Spanish, Austrians and French before becoming an independent kingdom and then, in 1860, part of the unified Kingdom of Italy, Naples is a rich mosaic.  It has soul, character and romance.  Perhaps most memorable for us were the people – kind, charming, exuberant, intense, warm and energetic, with an infectious passion for life.  We understand very little Italian, yet these traits came through unmistakably even from Neapolitans who don’t speak English. 

 

Although of course there are still many wheelchair access barriers in Italy, on previous trips we’ve been heartened by the increasing awareness of access and the needs and rights of disabled people.   People sincerely want to help, and though they may not always know exactly how, they are eager to learn.  Good access planning is evident in new construction and major renovations.  Generally, however, access to buildings is better than to local transportation, which remains difficult. 

 

These observations are true of Naples, but Naples is more crowded and has a more difficult terrain and fewer financial resources available to eliminate barriers than the other major cities we’ve visited.  We saw fewer people in wheelchairs than in Rome and Florence.  But what Naples lacks in resources it makes up in attitude.

 

Navigating Naples in a wheelchair is difficult, even compared to Rome, which certainly is not easy.  We’ve tried to indicate in our previous articles whether it would be possible for a person in wheelchair to travel alone and, if so, how difficult.  Traveling solo seemed possible to us in most places.  But, realistically, even for a wheelchair user with a strong upper body, it doesn’t seem possible to travel to Naples without an able-bodied companion.  Moreover, because of its complexity, physical layout and human density, we don’t recommend Naples for your first trip to Italy whether you are able-bodied or use a wheelchair.  Naples is fascinating, rewarding and worthwhile, and if you’ve been to Italy before and are accustomed to Italian tempo, logistics, customs, hours of operation and the like, we enthusiastically recommend visiting Naples.

 

Naples is complex – it took us a few days to get acclimated.  Naples slopes uphill away from the sea, somewhat gradually at first but then more steeply.  Even many of the gradually sloped areas have some cross-angles.  There are also some steep, high freestanding hills.  The streets in the ancient Greco-Roman areas and other parts of the old city - where many of the museums, monuments, churches, piazzas and palazzos are located - are narrow and crowded.  Pedestrian density is extremely high.  Many sidewalks and streets are bumpy, even those outside the old city. 

 

Traffic is heavy. Drivers are aggressive in an impersonal way, but very skilled, alert and aware of pedestrians; they are not angry or deliberately inconsiderate.  They aren’t shy about using horns, typically to alert pedestrians and other drivers to “look out – I’m coming through.”  They can be quirky.  We fondly remember the kind driver who came to a screeching halt on a busy street just after Howard had crossed it, slowly rolled down her manually operated window and, unconcerned about the traffic piling up behind her, pointed out that he’d dropped the folded umbrella that had hung off the back of his wheelchair.  

 

Parking is tight and parked vehicles often block curb cuts.  Construction sites that block sidewalks don’t provide an alternate path of travel, as they are required to do in the U.S.  Even in streets with sidewalks, one must often roll in the street because of blocked curb cuts, blocked sidewalks and construction obstacles.  Even a power wheelchair user or a strong person in a manual wheelchair will require frequent assistance up or down curbs.  But don’t be discouraged.  People are very willing to help.

 

Many intersections in neighborhoods throughout Naples lack curb cuts or curb ramps, and many of those that do exist are steeper than in the U.S.  When we say that a place is accessible by a ramp or a sloped street, we mean it is physically accessible.  That does not necessarily mean it is accessible independently or would qualify as accessible under U.S. law. 

 

            Some words about crime and grime may be helpful at this point.  Naples has long had a reputation for crime, well deserved by most accounts.  (Generally, these have been crimes against property or targeted violence against enemies, not random violence.)   The situation is considered to have improved significantly in the past decade or so.  We didn’t know what to expect.  We were glad to see what appears to be a serious, concerted effort to prevent crime.  Police and soldiers were visible throughout the city.  People strolled everywhere.  We experienced no crime or attempts, and felt safe everywhere; however, we avoided the area near the central train station at night and wouldn’t have felt comfortable there at that time.  (See “Pompeii and Herculaneum,” below.)

 

There were refreshing sea breezes during our visit, the air was clear, and the city didn’t feel polluted.  Naples has a large number of historic castles, palazzos, churches, museums and ordinary buildings; many have not been restored or recently cleaned.  Some have been and a great deal of work is underway on others, but the job is vast and resources are limited. 

 

If you want a spotlessly clean, perfectly orderly place with the soul of a shopping mall, Naples isn’t for you.  But if you have a strong sense of history, enjoy discovering unexpected gems, can appreciate a beautiful façade underneath a bit of dust, and admire a people who are outgoing, warm and exuberant, and a culture that celebrates life, food and music, visit Naples!  A person’s reaction to New Orleans (pre-Katrina) may be a good litmus test: if you consider New Orleans too grimy, chaotic, and disorderly, you are unlikely to appreciate Naples.  But if you are charmed, intrigued and energized by New Orleans, chances are you’ll feel the same about Naples.  

 

            Bathrooms

 

As we’ve noticed elsewhere in Italy, bathrooms in Naples typically are large, clean and have high quality plumbing, often including handheld hoses in addition to the regular sink and faucet.  It is not always easy to find an accessible bathroom, but when you do, it is likely to be well designed and spacious. 

 

Most wheelchair accessible bathrooms have large toilets that are higher than the typical accessible high toilet in the U.S.  They typically have flip-up grab bars mounted on one side on the wall behind the toilet, and also an emergency alarm with a pull cord within easy reach.  The sinks are large, with plenty of space to roll under them, and with long-handled faucets. 

 

We generally didn’t seek accessible bathrooms in restaurants or churches.  Most museums that are accessible have an accessible bathroom.  Because museums are generally free for disabled people, if you need to use the bathroom and are near a museum, you can do so even if you don’t want to tour the museum at the time.  Proprietors, guards, government workers and salespeople are generally quite willing to let a person in a wheelchair use bathrooms in their establishment even if he isn’t a customer. 

 

            Stair Lifts

 

The stair lifts at many museums, monuments, palazzos and churches in Italy (even lifts that appear fairly new) are typically narrower, shorter and have a lower weight capacity than in the U.S., often 330 pounds (150 kilograms).  (The typical capacity in the U.S. for lifts in public accommodations is 750 pounds or, less commonly, 500.)  Howard’s wheelchair barely fit many of them - perhaps by two inches in width.  Howard’s Quickie power wheelchair is standard size; people with wider chairs would have difficulty fitting on some of the stair lifts.  Our strong impression is that in planning for wheelchair access, the norm, the default is a manual wheelchair, and a power wheelchair is still considered atypical. 

 

Generally, and unlike the typical lift in the U.S., many Italian lifts are able to operate with the moveable safety edges at the front and back in the lowered, open position (approximately parallel to the main platform and the floor), as distinguished from the raised position (at perhaps a 45 degree angle to the main platform and the floor).  Howard’s wheelchair footrests sometimes protruded past the front edge and the rear tires often rested on the lowered rear edge.  This is less safe because raised edges help prevent the wheelchair from moving forward or backward, so it is critical to have one’s brakes on.  But it mitigates somewhat the small platform size.

 

Museums, Monuments, Churches, Antiquities

 

We urge you to try to tour all major museums, monuments, palazzos, churches, parks and antiquities sites that interest you - they are likely to be at least partially accessible and you will probably see something interesting and beautiful on the way. 

 

Restaurants and Stores

 

Many restaurants and stores have a threshold step of anywhere from two to eight inches.  The proprietors are very willing to lift your wheelchair, although they often require instructions on how to do it.    

III.  GOOD NEWS ABOUT SMOKING 

In 2005 a national law became effective in Italy that bans smoking inside restaurants, bars and cafes, except in specially ventilated smoking rooms.  The penalties for patrons are strict, and those for proprietors even stricter.  In our experience the law is taken quite seriously.  We saw no restaurants or cafes with smoking rooms.  Smoking is permitted at outdoor tables, but this was rarely a problem: it seems that smokers have become more considerate even when smoking outdoors.  Also, if you eat outside in a crowded, bustling city such as Naples, vehicle exhaust is unavoidable, so you can’t expect perfectly clear air anyway.  A collateral benefit of the smoking ban we noticed is that fewer people use cell phones in restaurants – many go outside to have a cigarette and use their cell phones.   

IV.  NAPLES – HOTELS 

A Note About Terminology

 

            In Italy and some other European countries, the word “accessible” in describing a hotel room means merely that there are no barriers such as stairs and there is sufficient doorway width for a wheelchair to travel to and enter the room - that there is what Americans refer to as an “accessible path of travel” to the hotel room.  Hence, an “accessible” room may have a bathroom that is completely unusable by most wheelchair users, other inaccessible elements, and may even be too small to maneuver a wheelchair effectively.  What would be considered a fully “accessible” room in the U.S. is called an “adapted” room in Italy and other European countries.  In this article we use “accessible” with its American meaning, but we strongly recommend that you ask for an “adapted” room when inquiring about hotels. 

 

            A Word About Hotel Location

 

            For hotels, as for real estate in general, the three most important factors are location, location and location (assuming good wheelchair access).  Strolling through a vibrant, beautiful, interesting neighborhood is one of the most enjoyable things about traveling.  It’s exciting to stay in the heart of the centro storico (historic city center), where one can roll by the same building or piazza ten times and discover something new and fascinating each time.  Strolling at night is romantic and exhilarating; staying at a central location makes it easier to remain out late.  A central location is also more conducive to an afternoon nap because it’s easy to go out again afterwards.

 

            Staying in a central location also is critical because accessible public transportation is sometimes scarce, unreliable, difficult to find, and subject to change.  Being within rolling distance of museums, antiquities, monuments, churches, restaurants and shopping saves time, energy, uncertainty, frustration and expense.  Up to a point, we would forego a large room, stylish atmosphere and contemporary amenities for a great location.

 

            Each location in Naples has strong pros and cons.  Initially we had hoped to stay in the heart of the old city, but not having been to Naples before, we were unsure of the terrain in the old city.  Also, it was difficult to find a well-rated hotel there with good wheelchair access.  We stayed in Chiaia (see below) and liked the location very much.  However, we do not recommend staying further than Chiaia.  Staying in the outskirts of a city defeats the purpose of traveling there.

 

Hotels – Where We Stayed

 

Hotel Majestic.  Four star.  Largo Vasto a Chiaia, 68.  Phone +39-081-416-500. Fax +39-081-410-155. www.majestic.it.   info@majestic.it

 

            The Majestic is in a modernized, immaculately maintained building with warm wood tones and gorgeous marble slabs in greens, grays and beiges.  It’s in Chiaia, an elegant, upscale residential area developed in the late 19th century.  The rate was reasonable for a hotel of this quality and location.  The neighborhood is flat by Naples standards.  The streets and sidewalks in the area are bumpy, with uneven stones and few curb ramps, but welcome to Naples!  The neighborhood is lively but, while noisy compared to many cities, is quieter and less densely peopled than older areas of Naples such as Spaccanapoli and the other ancient Greco-Roman areas.  Though it faced the street, our room was very quiet with the window closed. 

 

            We found several terrific neighborhood restaurants nearby that aren’t mentioned in the tourist guidebooks, and there are plenty of boutiques and movie theaters.  There are few other hotels in the neighborhood.  We saw few other tourists, and most of them were Italian.  It was a 10-minute stroll to the seafront near the Riviera di Chiaia, and around 20 minutes to Piazza Plebiscito.  However, the older parts of the city, where most of the museums, churches and palazzos are located, are further – not necessarily far as the crow flies, but an ambitious though certainly do-able stroll considering the hills, uneven street terrain and human density of the older areas.  So the Majestic’s location was both an advantage and a disadvantage; on balance, we liked it very much.  The hotel was a relaxing oasis to return to at the end of the day.  

 

            The service was among the best, if not the best, of any hotel we’ve ever stayed in.  The staff has a kindness, hospitality, enthusiasm and warmth that we have learned are part of the Neapolitan character.

 

            Every staff member – front desk staff, breakfast waiters, bellmen and cleaning ladies - was extremely welcoming, gracious, helpful and attentive to detail.  Each person tried to make our stay memorable.  Though the staff was helpful and solicitous to all guests, it seemed that the hotel had not had many guests in wheelchairs and the staff was especially interested in making sure there were no barriers, the access elements were good and we were comfortable.   

 

            The main entrance has electric sliding doors and is up a two-inch threshold; the threshold was easy in Howard’s electric wheelchair but many manual wheelchair users would need assistance.  There is a door without any threshold a few feet away, however, and the bellman always was eager to open it for us.  There is a medium size accessible bathroom near the lobby, with a large, high toilet; side transfer space, grab bars, a large sink and an emergency alarm cord. 

 

            The doors of the two regular elevators are too narrow for a wheelchair, so guests in wheelchairs will need to use the service elevator.  Howard’s wheelchair was able to fit into the doorway of the service elevator with around two inches to spare on each side, and the elevator is easily wide enough for one able-bodied person to be in it along with the person in a wheelchair.  However, Howard’s wheelchair just barely fit lengthwise with the elevating footrests in their shortened position.  The footrests can be removed in order to shorten the wheelchair; this was not necessary, but it almost was.  We didn’t measure the elevator size.  (Howard’s wheelchair is 25 inches (63.5 cm) wide and 48 inches (122 cm) long with the footrests in the shortest position, including Howard’s toes protruding past the footrests by two inches.)  When inquiring about reservations, be sure to ask for precise measurements.  Using the service elevator wasn’t a hassle, as it might seem, because the cleaning ladies made sure to keep it clean and to keep the nearby corridor free of obstacles.

 

            The inviting breakfast room is up two stairs but is easily accessed via a ramped walkway near the kitchen.  The waiters at breakfast were always attentive, anticipating our arrival by setting a comfortable table for us. 

 

            We stayed in Room 101.  The bedroom is medium size, but so well designed, cheerful and well lit that it seems larger.  We were told the room is 215 square feet (20 square meters) excluding the bathroom; this seems accurate.  There is comfortable king size bed, not two single beds pushed together as is often the case in Italy.  The air conditioning and air circulation were excellent, not dry or stuffy.  The ceiling is high and there is a large window with bright sunlight and a view of the school across the street.  Some rooms on higher floors have sea views and are priced accordingly, but none are accessible.  (We’ve noticed that accessible hotel rooms in Italy tend to be on the lower floors, probably to make evacuation easier in an emergency.)  There is abundant detailing in warm, elegant wood.  The switch for the electric window shade, most light switches and most electric outlets (there are many) are accessible, and all the lights can be turned off by an accessible single switch at either side of the bed.  There is a built-in closet with accessible drawers but inaccessible hangers.   The guest room doorway is approximately 36 inches wide and has a magnet to hold it open, a thoughtful feature we’ve never seen anywhere else.  The door doesn’t have a lever handle; there is a push button at the top, so it doesn’t require twisting.

 

            The bathroom is luxurious, spacious, well lit and has terrific amenities.  Slabs of creamy white carrera marble with silver veins line the walls, accented by edge details of gorgeous orange marble, also used for the floor tiles.  The bathroom doorway is at least 32 inches wide.  There is a large, high toilet with plenty of adjacent transfer space.  There is a bidet (handy for doing laundry); a large, well-designed sink; a huge, accessible mirror; a heated towel rack and a fan.  The tap water was clear, sweet and delicious.  The towel racks, light switches and hair dryer are accessible.  There is plenty of accessible shelf space to put toiletries.  A phone is next to the toilet, and emergency alarm cords are next to the toilet and in the shower.  There is a large roll-in shower with a handheld shower nozzle and plenty of water pressure.  The shower floor has anti-skid strips and is gently sloped so the water drains well. 

 

However, there is no built-in shower bench, nor any grab bars near the toilet or in the shower.   Howard has written to the hotel asking them to install grab bars.  This bathroom is the most spacious, well designed, comfortable and - except for these obstacles, which we certainly aren’t minimizing, would be the most accessible - hotel bathroom we’ve seen.

 

            All in all, we were thrilled with the Majestic.

 

Hotels – Other Possibilities

 

We haven’t visited any of these hotels; all information was provided by them in response to our inquiries.  Because location is so critical, we list them by location.

 

            Along the Waterfront

 

            The luxury hotels are clustered on via Partenope, along the magnificent waterfront.  The area is great for strolling day and night, and is flat.  This location isn’t central, but neither is it too far from the old city.  We would definitely consider staying there on a return trip if we could get a good rate.

 

Hotel Royal Continental.  Four star.  Via Partenope, 38 and 44.  Phone +39-081-76-44-614.  Fax +39-081-76-45-707.  www.royalcontinental.it prenotazioni@royalcontinental.it.

 

There are some stairs at the main entrance.   There is a side entrance without stairs, but one must ask the front desk staff to open it.  The elevator doorway is 31 inches (79 cm) wide; the elevator is 41.7 inches (106 cm) wide and 54.3 inches (138 cm) deep.  There are several accessible rooms, all of which are interior rooms without sea views.  The room size is 198 square feet (18.4 square meters).  The guest room doorway is 35 inches (90 cm) wide and the bathroom door is 32.2 inches (82 cm) wide.  There is a roll-in shower.  There are grab bars near the toilet and in the shower.  This hotel is the combination of two formerly separate hotels, the Royal and the Continental; the accessible rooms are in the 1955 Royal building, the older of the two.  The hotel was recently renovated.

 

Grand Hotel Santa Lucia.  Five star.  Via Partenope, 46.  Phone +39-081-76-40-666.  Fax +39-081-76-48-580.  www.santalucia.thi.it reception-santalucia@thi.it

 

The hotel entrance has a ramp 47 inches (120 cm) wide. There are no stairs to get to the elevator.  The elevator doorway is 34.5 inches (88 cm) wide; the elevator interior is 59 inches (150 cm) by 49.25 inches (125 cm).  There is a ramp to the restaurant, where breakfast is served.  The accessible room has a “nice partial view over the castle [Castel dell’ Ovo - the Egg Castle] and the sea.”  The guest room doorway is 30.2 inches (77 cm) wide.  In the room there are two bathrooms, one accessible and one regular. The bathroom doorway is 29.5 inches (75 cm) wide.  The toilet is 19.7 inches (50 cm) high.  There is a roll-in shower with grab bars, and there are grab bars near the toilet.  The room is 269 square feet (25 square meters), not including the bathrooms or interior hallway.  The hotel was renovated not longer than six years ago.

 

On the Hills

 

These hotels are located in Vomero, an elegant hilltop neighborhood.  Some of the streets have stairs.  Rolling to and from these hotels in a wheelchair from the lower neighborhoods in the old city and from the waterfront would be extremely difficult.  At the time of writing, there are no accessible taxis in Naples.  The hilltops are served by funiculars.  It is imperative to check whether the nearby funicular lines are accessible before booking at these hotels.

 

Grand Hotel Parkers Five star.  Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 135.  Phone +39-081-76-12-474.  Fax +39-081-66-35-27.  www.grandhotelparkers.com info@grandhotelparkers.it

 

There is a “little” step at the main entrance.  The view restaurant is accessible by elevator but the roof terrace is not.  The accessible guest room has no sea view (disappointing in a hotel renowned for its glorious panoramic views) but is huge at 645 square feet (60 square meters).  The elevator doorway is 31.5 inches (80 cm) wide.  All guest room and bathroom doorways are at least 31.5 inches (80 cm) wide.  There is a roll-in shower with grab bars.  There are grab bars near the toilet.

 

Hotel San Francesco al MonteCorso Vittorio Emanuele, 328.  Phone +39-081-42-39-412 or +39- 081-42-39-111.  Fax +39-081-25-12-485.  www.hotelsanfrancesco.it. info@hotelsanfrancesco.it

 

            This hotel, opened in 1999, is in a 16th century former convent with panoramic views and magnificent art.  The accessible room has a sea view.  The roof terrace, breakfast room and restaurant might not be accessible; the information we received was unclear.  There are no stairs from the hotel entrance to the elevator.  The elevator doorway is 31.5 inches (80 cm) wide.  The guest room is 215 square feet (20 square meters), including the bathroom.  The guest room doorway is 35 inches (90 cm) wide.  The bathroom doorway is 31.5 inches (80 cm) wide.  There is 35.2 inches (90 cm) of transfer space at one side of the toilet.  The toilet is 17.7 inches (45 cm) high.  There is a roll-in shower with grab bars.  There are grab bars near the toilet.     

 

            Elsewhere

 

Best Western Hotel Plaza Napoli Three star.  Piazza Principe Umberto I, 23.

Phone +39-081-56-36-168.  Fax+39-081-56-36-177. www.hotelplazanapoli.it.

 

            This hotel is located near the main train station and Piazza Garibaldi.  Although it has the advantage of being close to the old city, we wouldn’t be comfortable walking around here at night.  Each floor has an accessible room, at least some of which have roll-in showers.

 

Mercure Napoli Garibaldi.  Two star.  Via G. Ricciardi 33.  Prenotazioni3.MercureNapoliAngioino@accor-hotels.it.

 

Built in 2002, this Accor hotel is located near the main train station and Piazza Garibaldi.  Although it has the advantage of being close to the old city, we wouldn’t be comfortable walking around here at night.  The elevator doorway is 29.5 inches (75 cm) wide; the elevator dimensions are 47.2 inches (120 cm) by 30.3 inches (77 cm).  The accessible room is 177 square feet (16.5 square meters), including the bathroom.  The guest room doorway is 29.5 inches (75 cm) wide.  The bathroom doorway is 31.5 inches (80 cm) wide.  The toilet is 20.4 inches (52 cm) high and has 31.5 inches (80 cm) of adjacent transfer space.  There is no roll-in shower.

 

Hotel del Real Orto Botanico.  Via Foria, 192.  Phone +39-081-44-21-528.  Fax +39-081-44-21-346.   www.hotelrealortobotanico.it hoteldelreal@hotmail.com

 

            This is an inexpensive hotel uphill near the Royal Botanic Garden.  The elevator doorway is 33.4 inches (85 cm) wide.  We were told there is an accessible guest room, but the only specifics we were given are that the guest room and bathroom doorways are 35.4 inches (90 cm) wide.

 

            Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo.  Via Nuova Ponte di Tappia, 25.  Phone +39-081-79-70-001.  Fax +39-081-55-25-868.  http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/NAPBR.

 

            This new Marriott hotel, very well located near Piazza Plebescito and via Toledo, is reputed to have superb views and accessible guest rooms.  We have no further information because the hotel didn’t answer any of our inquiries.   

            V.  TRANSPORTATION 

Taxis

 

Many sources told us there are no accessible taxis in Naples, and we saw none.

 

Private Transportation Companies

 

After extensive research, we found a company that provides accessible transportation.  Aloschi Bros. provides ground transportation, cruises on the Bay of Naples and other travel services in Naples and Rome.  They have at least two accessible vans in Naples.  We hired them for a ride from the Naples airport to our hotel and a day trip to the Amalfi coast.  The drivers were on time and courteous.  The driver for the Amalfi coast was very skilled on the difficult terrain, driving slowly on the twists and turns to make sure the ride was as smooth as possible.  The vans were clean and large, with heavy-duty lifts.  Howard was able to see well out the large windows.  The service was expensive, in part because, as with many accessible transportation services we’ve found in Italy, the vehicles are large enough to transport more than one person in a wheelchair and several able-bodied passengers, so in effect you are paying for unused capacity.  Unfortunately one sits much higher than in the lowered floor accessible minivan common in the U.S., so the ride isn’t as smooth no matter how skilled the driver.

 

Aloschi Bros.  Phone +39-081-764-82-40.  Fax +39-081-764-88-16.  www.aloschibros.com info@aloschibros.com  Our contact was Antonella Aloschi. antonella@aloschibros.com.

 

Another possibility is CTP (Compagnia Trasporti Pubblici Napoli), one of the public transportation agencies for the Naples area.  We were told it operates a paratransit type service.  Phone +39-06-22-70-81-30 or, from Italy, 800-482-644.  www.ctpn.it info@cotp.it.

 

            Finally, it may be productive to contact the Italian disability organization that supports whichever disability you have.  Many of these organizations provide patient services such as transportation in addition to advocacy and medical research.  A list of organizations is found at Information,” below.

 

            Public Buses

 

            We found a long list of accessible public bus lines, but the only buses we tried, line R2, which we took from Piazza Trieste e Trento (across the street from the entrance to Teatro San Carlo opera house) to the central train station and back, have no ramp or lift despite displaying the blue wheelchair logo.  In both directions, Michele, the bus driver and fellow passengers lifted Howard in his wheelchair on and off the bus through the rear door.  The buses had a lowered floor, with a rear entrance wide enough for a wheelchair (i.e. they don’t have a pole in the middle of the rear entrance, unlike the oldest buses) and a space for a wheelchair opposite the rear entrance, but no lockdowns.  The R2’s were old buses designed without ramps or lifts; this was not merely a case of a broken ramp.

 

            It was a Sunday, the buses weren’t crowded, and the bus driver kept opening the doors as he approached each stop, while the bus was still moving!

 

We saw, but didn’t try, some newer buses on other routes that appeared to have retractable under-floor ramps, and several new-looking streetcars with ramps or lifts.

 

The official Naples tourism website has a section in English on disability access, including information about transportation.  http://www.turismoaccessibile.it/trasporti_en.htm

 

Azienda Napoletana Mobilita (ANM) is the main public transportation agency within the city of Naples.   www.anm.it.  Phone +39-081-76-32-177 or, from Italy only, 800-63-95-25.

 

            Airport Bus

 

            We were informed that there is an accessible bus - Alibus - from the airport to the central train station and the port.  Passengers needing accessible transportation must reserve by calling +39-081-76-31-111 or, from Italy only, 800-63-95-25.

 

            Airport Information

 

            The website of the Naples airport is www.gesac.it.  It has an English section.  Email customer_service@gesac.it.  Phone +39-081-78-96-259.

 

            Sightseeing Bus

 

            The double-decker, open top “hop-on, hop-off” sightseeing buses are accessible.  (The bottom deck, not the upper one.)  We didn’t take a sightseeing bus but saw one and it had a ramp.  A ticket allows you to get on and off at various locations at your own pace within a specified time period.

 

            City Sightseeing Napoli Phone +39-081-55-17-279.
 
http://www.napoli.city-sightseeing.it/eng/index.htm infonapoli@city-sightseeing.it    

 

            Funicular

 

            Naples has four funicular lines with varying degrees of access.  We didn’t try them.  Access improvements are ongoing.  For information, go to http://www.turismoaccessibile.it/trasporti_en.htm.

 

            Subway (Metro)

 

            Naples has a new subway line, Line 1, designed to be accessible, and an old line with limited accessibility.  We didn’t try them.  For information, go to http://www.turismoaccessibile.it/trasporti_en.htm.

           

            Train to Pompeii and Herculaneum

 

See “Pompeii and Herculaneum,” below.

 

            Intercity Trains in Italy

 

For information about accessibility of intercity trains in Italy, see the section “Train Travel in Italy” in our article Vicenza Voyage; and Florence and Rome Update on the websites where this article is published.

 

Ferries to Capri, Ischia and Procida

See Capri,” below. 

Other Ships

 Metro del Mare operates commuter ships among Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi, Salerno and other coastal towns in Campania.  We don’t know the access situation.  Its website has an English section.  www.metrodelmare.com.

 

Miscellaneous

 

UnicoCampania is a consortium of public transportation companies in Campania.  Its website has an English section.  www.UnicoCampania.it.       info@UnicaCampania.it.  Phone +39-081-55-13-109 or +39-081-42-01-285.  Fax +39-081-55-14-414.          

VI.  NAPLES – MUSEUMS, CHURCHES, PALACES AND OTHER SIGHTS 

It took a while to rest from the flight, there were several rainy days in Naples and we interspersed Naples sightseeing with day trips to Capri and the Amalfi coast, so we saw fewer sights in Naples than we’d planned.  There’s a lot more to see. 

 

Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale)

 

If you can visit only one museum in Naples, this is it.  Extraordinary artifacts from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other antiquities sites – mosaics, frescoes, sculptures (including the Farnese collection of ancient Roman marble statues), glass and coins - are on display.  Access is excellent.  There are no stairs at the main entrance.  The building is on a hill, but the site is flat.  There is a long cobblestone path to get to the main entrance; it’s flat but the ride is bumpy.  A huge elevator serves all floors.  There are no changes in level among the galleries on each floor.  There is a large accessible bathroom on the ground floor, with a large, high toilet; plenty of side transfer space, a large sink and an emergency alarm cord.  A key is required.  The bathroom door is a heavy sliding door, so some wheelchair users will require assistance.

 

Cappella Sansevero

 

The Veiled Christ - Giuseppe Sanmartino’s masterpiece of white marble - and other brilliant sculptures are displayed on the ground floor.  There is one high stair at the entrance; it was not difficult for Michele and one other person to lift Howard inside.  The skeletons are downstairs but may be seen well from the ground floor.

 

Duomo

 

The entrance is on a fairly steep hill.  There is good access to the main entrance via a series of semi-permanent metal ramps with railings.

 

Galleria Umberto I

 

There are no stairs at the entrance on via Toledo.

 

Mergellina

 

We enjoyed a romantic stroll along the lively waterfront from Chiaia to Mergellina.  The scenic waterfront here has cafes and restaurants that attract far more Neapolitans than tourists, and is bustling with fisherman and their boats.  The sidewalk is mostly flat, smooth and continuous, without major access barriers.

 

Palazzo Reale

 

There are no stairs at the entrance, but the surfaces in the nearby street, in Piazza Plebiscito and in the palace’s ground floor courtyard are paved in cobblestones and the ride was bumpy.  All the public rooms are on the first floor, which is accessed by a very small elevator.  Howard fit only by removing his wheelchair footrests and backing into the elevator; there was no space to spare.  The bathroom is not accessible.

 

Pio Monte della Misericordia (Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of Mercy)

 

Caravaggio’s magnificent naturalistic masterpiece the Seven Acts of Mercy is displayed in this charitable religious institution, along with other paintings.  The Seven Acts of Mercy is displayed in an open loggia, which is up two very high stairs.  The stairway is narrow and it would have been difficult to lift Howard up it.  Howard was able to get a fairly good view of the Seven Acts of Mercy from outside.  The other paintings can’t be seen from outside. 

 

San Carlos Opera House (Teatro San Carlo)

 

Opera, ballet and other concerts are still performed at this, Italy’s oldest opera house and the great rival to Milan’s La Scala.  There were no concerts during our trip.  Guided tours around 20 minutes long are given.  There are at least five stairs at the main entrance. There is an accessible entrance, but wheelchair users wanting to take a tour must provide a few days advance notice.  We didn’t reserve in advance, so weren’t able to take the tour.  Accessible concert seating is available, although perhaps not at the last minute.

 

There is an extensive website in English where you can order concert tickets and learn the illustrious history of Teatro San Carlo.

 

www.teatrosancarlo.it teatrosancarlo@itineranapoli.com.  Phone +39-081-66-45-45.  Fax +39-081-19-57-62-46.  The contact for accessible tours is Mrs. Francesca Del Vecchio.  

 

Santa Chiara

 

The church is up one small stair and one high stair; it was not difficult for Michele and one other person to lift Howard inside.  There are no stairs at the entrance to the cloister of softly-colored majolica tiles, but the cloister entrance is along a fairly steep cobblestone path.  The path wasn’t difficult in Howard’s electric wheelchair; many manual wheelchair users would need assistance. 

 

San Domenico Maggiore

 

The church entrance is up one high stair; it was not difficult for Michele and one other person to lift Howard inside.    

            VII.  NAPLES - WALKING TOURS

            Context Naples.  A knowledgeable guide can enrich and enliven travel anywhere, but this is especially true of Naples because of its complexity, physical and historical layers, vast temporal scale, extraordinary richness and almost overwhelming density.  The tour we took with Context Naples was among the highlights of our trip.  Context operates in-depth walking tours (Context prefers the term “itineraries”) of three to four hours led by English-speaking docents who live in Naples and typically have advanced degrees in art, architecture, history or urban planning.  The docents are specialists sharing their expertise and passion for their subjects, not conventional tour guides.  Context also operates in Rome, Florence and Paris.  Context is dedicated to mitigating the corrosive effects of mass tourism on cities and on the tourists who visit them.  In Naples all the tours are private; elsewhere they are limited to six people.

 

We took a four hour Arte Napoletana walk with docent Maria Laura Chiacchio.  The route was hilly but she mitigated the obstacles as much as possible.  A multi-lingual Neapolitan native with a Ph.D. in art history, Maria Laura combined the pride, lore and familiarity of a native with the knowledge of an expert academic.  Her knowledge and insights were deep and broad, her enthusiasm for Naples energizing and the pacing perfect.  She was historically imaginative in evoking the past.  She welcomed questions.  The art and architecture of Naples were not nearly as familiar to us as those of other Italian cities, so we really appreciated having such a terrific guide to introduce us to them. 

 

Context views wheelchair access as a challenge and a learning opportunity, not a burden.  Context offers a large variety of itineraries with varying degrees of wheelchair access.  When signing up, provide as much information as possible about your mobility limitations and capabilities.  Context has a fascinating website, and the customer praise on it is entirely justified.

 

Context Naples Phone +39-06-482-0911.  Phone in the U.S. 888-467-1986.  Fax +39-06-4543-9055.  www.ContextNaples.com www.ContextRome.com info@ContextNaples.com

VIII.  NAPLES – RESTAURANTS

The culinary highlight of Naples for us was the incredibly fresh, moist and flavorful fish and seafood.  We feasted on marinated anchovies (alici), baked seafood linguini (linguini alla cartoccio), linguine with clams (linguini alla vongole) or with tomatoes, clams and mussels (linguini alla scoglio), swordfish (pesce spada), Mediterranean sea bass (spigola) (much closer to striped bass than to Chilean sea bass), gilthead bream (orata) (which may or may not be the same as tilapia/St. Peter’s fish), and giant calamari.  The fish is prepared simply, either grilled, or baked in acqua pazza, a simple fish stock with garlic and parsley, and often served with fresh bright fire-engine-red cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor.  Gnocchi Sorrento (gnocchi in a tomato sauce with a bit of delicious buffalo mozzarella folded in) and ravioli Caprese (ravioli filled with ricotta and buffalo mozzarella in a light tomato sauce) also were scrumptious.  Steaks were tender and favorful.  The coffee was superb.  Our favorite regional wine was Aglianico – deep, dark red, full bodied, with a nice balance between fruit and earth.  Service was casual, relaxed and knowledgeable, and on our return visits to a restaurant waiters welcomed us like old friends.

 

La Barrique.  This warm, cozy and elegant restaurant and enoteca (wine bar) in Chiaia a few blocks from our hotel was an exception to the theme of simple seafood.  We enjoyed steak (both a traditional filet and thinly sliced strips with porcini mushrooms (tagliati de manzo)), rolled eggplant stuffed with tomatoes and mozzarella (involtini di melanzane), and more innovative dishes such as soup of white beans and porcini, large macaroni with a delicate lamb sauce, and unusual desserts with complex, subtle flavors and not too sweet.  With a huge, reasonably priced wine list emphasizing a wide variety of southern Italian wines, including many choices by the glass, La Barrique is a great place to learn about the often-underrated regional wines.  After several delicious red wines from Campania, we enjoyed a flight of delicate, fragrant Sicilian white dessert wines.  Service was gracious and friendly.  There is a 2-inch threshold at the entrance. 

 

La Barrique.  Piazzetta Ascensione, 9.  Phone +39-081-66-27-21.

 

Donna Margherita.  Located in Chiaia, this large, traditional pizzeria and trattoria caters to families and is always bustling and boisterous, with children running around, old friends catching up and everyone having a good time.  The energetic, experienced waiters keep smiling through it all.  There is a cheerful covered garden.  The food was fresh, tasty, satisfying and moderately priced, though not extraordinary.  There is an 8-inch stair at the entrance; the waiters were eager to lift Howard’s chair and find us a comfortable spot. 

 

Donna Margherita.  Viccolo Alabardieri, 4.  Phone +39-081-40-01-29. 

 

Taverna del Cerriglio.  This typical, informal Neapolitan osteria specializes in seafood and, like many restaurants in Naples, also serves a lot of pizza.  The friendly, opinionated waiter was always on the mark in his recommendations.  We enjoyed fresh, perfectly cooked calamari, sea bass, steak, gnocchi Sorrento and linguini alla cartoccio.  Located in Chiaia not far from our hotel, this place has a loyal local clientele.  There is a 6-inch stair at the entrance.

 

Taverna del Cerriglio.  Via Vetriera, 13 and 14.  Phone +39-081-25-25-040.

 

Scaturchio.  This famous pastry shop in the old city, renowned for its sfogliatelle, is a must for locals and travelers alike.  Don’t miss the terrific espresso and also the rhum babas.  There is a 2-inch threshold at the entrance.

 

Scaturchio.  Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 19.  Phone +39-081-551-70-31.  www.scaturchio.it       

 

One place to avoid – Antica Pizzeria Brandi.  This pizzeria off via Chiaia not far from Piazza Plebiscito claims to have invented pizza Margherita (pizza topped with tomato, garlic and basil) over a century ago and is in all the tourist guidebooks.  The food isn’t bad, but there are many places with far better food, and this was the only restaurant we ate in where the waiters were jaded, borderline rude and treated the tourists differently from the locals.  

IX.  AMALFI COAST 

We spent an exhilarating day on the Amalfi coast enjoying the unforgettable vistas, rocky cliffs, bright blue water and clear, sunny sky.  There are important cultural and historical sites in the area, but we came mainly for the scenery, which is every bit as beautiful as its reputation.  It was a visual feast.  The area is famous for its lemons – try a tart, refreshing lemon granita (shaved ice) or limoncello (liqueur).

 

The drive from Naples to Ravello took a bit less than two hours; the time can vary depending on traffic and time of day.  The twists and turns were part of the fun, as a glorious new panorama opened up with each turn.  The road is winding but less steep than many parts of the California coast. (We hired an accessible van with a driver; we strongly discourage driving yourself even if it were possible to rent an accessible van without a driver.  See “Transportation – Private Transportation Companies,” above.) 

 

Ravello is perched high on a cliff but the streets around the town center are fairly flat.  Most of the gardens of Villa Cimbrone (www.villacimbrone.it) are up a flight of stairs and inaccessible, but the area near the entrance is accessible and has good views.  The Duomo is up many stairs and isn’t wheelchair accessible.  We found a good restaurant in the town center with an accessible view terrace.  The fabulous views were well worth the trip.

 

Amalfi has a long, wheelchair accessible pier jutting far into the sea, with stunning views in all directions.  Strolling on it and resting in the sun gave us a relaxed feeling of being connected to the sea.  The parking area near the highway and the sea is flat; it leads to a main street that remains flat for quite a while and then slopes upwards.  The Duomo is up many stairs and is not wheelchair accessible from the piazza below; we aren’t certain but it may be possible to access the Duomo by proceeding along the main street as it winds its way up.  

X.  CAPRI 

Intimate size; clear blue sky and shimmering blue water wherever you turn; fragrant flowers, plants, and trees; fresh air; craggy hills studded with bright white stucco buildings – it’s easy to see why so many people over so many centuries have fallen in love with Capri. We spent a serene, delightful afternoon there.  Though it certainly wasn’t empty, there were fewer tourists than we’d expected, and many of them were Neapolitans there for the day.  Everyone was in a good mood.

 

Transportation to Capri

 

We took the ferry from Molo Beverello (Beverello Pier), the main ferry pier in Naples, located downhill from the Palazzo Reale.  The ride took around an hour.  There is a moderately steep ramp to board the ferry; it was not difficult in Howard’s electric wheelchair but many manual wheelchair users would need assistance.  There is a designated accessible bathroom on board, which Howard didn’t use or examine.  The ferry’s lower deck carries cars and trucks.  A stair lift brings wheelchair passengers up the long flight of stairs to the passenger deck.  The lift was short - Howard’s footrests protruded over the front edge – and narrow, with only an inch to spare on either side.  It was old, creaky and slow.  But it worked. 

 

Because the stair lift is slow and vehicle exhaust rises into the stairwell, Howard inhaled a lot of exhaust.  Also, the windows on the passenger deck don’t open and there is no open deck, so the passenger deck smells of exhaust.  A few days later we strolled to Mergellina in Naples and noticed that the Mergellina dock appeared accessible.  We’d heard there is a hydrofoil to Capri from Mergellina and also from Molo Beverello; presumably, the hydrofoil doesn’t carry cars or trucks.  We don’t know whether the hydrofoil is accessible.  If it is, it may be a more comfortable option than the regular ferry.

 

These ferry companies operate frequent trips from Naples to Capri:

SNAV.  Phone +39-081-42-85-555.

Caremar.  Phone+39-081-55-13-882.

 

Also, Metro del Mare operates commuter ships among Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi, Salerno and other coastal towns in Campania.  We don’t know the access situation.  Its website has an English section.  www.metrodelmare.com.

 

Getting Around Capri

 

The ferry landed at Marina Grande, the island’s main port.  From there we took the funicular up to the town of Capri.  The employees at the bottom and top stations were skilled and enthusiastic; our experience was very positive.  There is a gently sloped ramp with a railing leading to the boarding platform.  There is a three-inch change in level to enter and exit the car, so employee assistance is required.  The ride was great fun as the panoramas opened up before us.  At the top, in Capri, a large, brand new elevator of glass and steel brings you up to a landing, and from there a new stair lift brings you up to the Piazzetta, the bustling, charming piazza.  The stair lift is somewhat small but larger than the one on the ferry.

 

The Piazzetta and the areas with restaurants, stores, hotels and gardens are very accessible.  Some streets are flat and others slope, most moderately and a few more steeply.  Even the steepest were not difficult in Howard’s electric wheelchair; people in manual wheelchairs would need assistance.  There are few streets with stairs – not because of a conscious effort to provide wheelchair access, but because it’s easy for hotels, stores and restaurants to move people and supplies in motorized carts on sloped streets.  Many of the streets are pedestrian only.  Beautiful vistas are everywhere you turn, and we felt serene, relaxed, happy and content despite the commercialism of the area.  Many hotels have lush gardens and terrace bars with views.  One way to see great views is to enter hotels and look at their common areas and guest rooms or have a drink at their terrace bars. 

 

The Gardens of Augustus are up stairs and, hence, inaccessible.  Howard was able to go down the adjacent street all the way to the topmost part of via Krupp, the winding street leading down to the sea.  The remainder of via Krupp was closed for repairs, so we don’t know whether there are stairs or very steep areas as via Krupp approaches the sea.

 

We had only an afternoon, so we didn’t try to go to Villa Jovis (Tiberius’s villa), which is at the other end of the island, or to the town of Anacapri, which is higher up; we can’t report on access conditions there.  We saw several small public buses in Capri, none of which was accessible.  Large open-top taxis are available for scenic rides.  The passenger doors are large, so some people who use wheelchairs may be able to transfer into the taxis.

 

There is a large accessible public bathroom adjacent to a parking lot near the main bus stand in town, not far from the Piazzetta.  It’s down a steep driveway from the main street.

 

Capri – Restaurant

 

We splurged on a delicious lunch at La Capannina, not far from the Piazzetta.  We enjoyed lightly sautéed fresh porcini mushrooms, ravioli caprese, baked swordfish with tomatoes and olives, and prawns with pureed chickpeas.  The unusual dessert pastry involved fresh local mozzarella, with a perfect smooth texture and subtle flavors.  Everything was delectable.  We drank excellent regional wines, including dessert wines.  Service was attentive, gracious and proud.  We came in an off-hour without a reservation; reservations are essential for dinner and prime lunchtime.  La Capannina may be hyped but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It wasn’t inexpensive but it was a fair value for the quality, service and location.

 

We sat in the lovely garden terrace (sunny but without a view), which is entered through a narrow side street.  The waiters lifted Howard’s wheelchair up the high stair.  There is another room, entered via the main street, not as charming but without stairs and therefore easier to access.  

 

Ristorante La Capannina.  Via Le Botteghe, 12 bis and 14.  Phone +39-081-83-70-732.  Fax +39-081-83-76-990.   www.capannina-capri.com

 

Capri – Hotel

 

Hotel Luna.  Four star.  Viale G. Matteotti, 3.  Phone +39-081-83-70-433.  Fax +39-081-83-77-459.  www.lunahotel.com

 

Hotel Luna is located just below the Gardens of Augustus.  The views from the common areas and from the room we were shown are indescribably magnificent.  One feels suspended - weightlessly but securely - between clear blue water and clear blue sky.  The hotel has a beautiful, secluded private garden.  A moderately sloped pathway leads from the street to the entrance lobby, and another to the garden.  All the grounds are lushly landscaped and immaculately maintained. 

 

We asked to see a guest room.  There are no rooms with a fully accessible bathroom, but there is more than one room either at the same level as the lobby or accessed by a medium size elevator in which Howard fit easily.  The bathrooms are large enough to be made accessible, and Howard intends to write to the hotel asking them to do so. 

XI.  POMPEII, HERCULANEUM AND PAESTUM 

The ride from Naples to Pompeii takes around half an hour on the Circumvesuviana, a privately owned train line whose main station is near Piazza Nolana, a few blocks from the Naples central train station.  The Circumvesuviana also goes to Herculaneum, which takes around 20 minutes.  At the Circumvesuviana station there is a large, modern elevator down to the platform level; the elevator is through a locked gate, so you must ask an employee to open the gate.  The trains are level with the platform, but there appeared to be a horizontal gap of perhaps three inches. 

 

The central train station and the main Circumvesuviana station are in a very seedy neighborhood.  We ended up not going to Pompeii:  it had rained most of the day, by the time we got to the Circumvesuviana station it was late afternoon, we realized that if we went to Pompeii we’d be returning at night, and we didn’t feel comfortable at the Circumvesuviana station in Naples at night.  Seeing Pompeii is another good reason for us to return to Naples.

 

To get to the excavations in Pompeii, take the Circumvesuviana toward Poggiomarino and get off in Pompei.

 

The Circumvesuviana website is in Italian only.  www.circumvesuviana.it.  Phone +39-081-77-22-222 or +39-081-77-22-221 or +39-081-77-22-212.  For information in English, go to http://www.turismoaccessibile.it/trasporti_en.htm.

 

We didn’t get to Pompeii so the following information is from the Archaeological Superintendent of Pompeii.  The excavations have three entrances; the entrance at Piazza Anfiteatro is the most wheelchair accessible.  In a wheelchair it is possible to see the amphitheater, parts of Villa dei Misteri and the surrounding area.  The entrance at Piazza Anfiteatro is a few minutes walking distance from the center of the new city of Pompei and from the Circumvesuviana train station.  A long-term project to improve access at the excavations has recently begun.

 

The website of the Archaeological Superintendent of Pompeii has information in English about the access project:

 

http://www2.pompeiisites.org/database/pompei/pompei2.nsf/pagine/D0535AC5C327C172C12570A800554953?OpenDocument

 

The main website is www.pompeiisites.org; it also has information about the excavations at Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabia. 

 

Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei; Via Villa dei Misteri, 2; 80045, Pompei.  Phone +39-081-85-75-341.  Fax +39-081-85-75-354.  ufficiostampa@archeologicapompei.it.

 

Although access is not easy at Pompeii, several sources told us that Pompeii is more accessible than Herculaneum.  Magnificent artifacts from both sites – mosaics, frescoes, sculptures, glass and coins - are on display at the Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) in Naples.

 

Paestum, site of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples in Italy outside of Sicily, is further from Naples than are Pompeii and Herculaneum.  It would be a long day trip with a vehicle and driver.  We didn’t research accessibility of public transportation.  Our hunch is that access on trains and buses would be difficult.  There may be a ferry from Naples.  We were informed that the museum at Paestum is accessible and some of the temple sites are partially accessible.  Contact Mr. Avagliano at +39-0828-81-10-23.  

XII.  ELECTRICITY; WHEELCHAIR REPAIR; MEDICAL NEEDS

Electricity and Charging your Wheelchair

 

Italy uses 220-volt AC power.  The standard plug has three prongs in a straight line (one is the ground) and is different from the plug used in most other European countries.  Plug adapters are available at any good travel store in the U.S.; we recommend buying several before your trip.

 

If you use an electric wheelchair, we recommend obtaining a wheelchair battery charger with settings for 110 and 220 volts.  It eliminates the need for a separate converter.  A surprisingly small, lightweight and inexpensive charger with dual settings is available from MK Battery.   www.MKBattery.com. Also try Lester Electrical.  www.LesterElectrical.com

 

We highly recommend gel cell batteries, which are non-spillable, safer and more acceptable to airlines than wet batteries.

 

We experienced no problems charging Howard’s wheelchair on this trip.  (See Rolling in Rome for a description of some problems we had in 2003.)

 

Wheelchair Repair

 

Fortunately, Howard didn’t need wheelchair repair on this trip.  The information below is based on previous trips to Italy.  

 

Sunrise Medical – Italy.  Main phone +39-052-357-3111.  Fax +39-052-357-0060.  Address:  via Riva, 20, Montale, Piacenza.  Jonathan Pezzali, the manager, is very helpful and speaks English well; his direct phone is +39-0523-573-146.  Jonathan.Pezzali@SunriseMedical.it.  Roberto Mandelli, technician; direct phone +39-0523-573-130.  Open Monday to Friday 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM.

 

Medical equipment dealer in Rome.  Ortopedia Mancini Phone +39-06-321-3148.  Fax +39-06-321-3208.  Address:  via Tacito, 94 (in Prati neighborhood).  Open Monday to Friday 8:00 AM - noon and 2:30 PM - 6:30 PM.  They don’t speak English.

 

Medical Needs

 

            The United States Embassy in Rome provides referrals to English speaking doctors and dentists.  www.USEmbassy.it.  Phone +39-06-467-41.  Fax +39-06-488-2672.  

XIII.  INFORMATION

Naples – General Information

 

Tourist Information Call Center of Campania Region.  Phone +39-06-39-96-78-51.  From Italy only, 800-22-33-66.    

 

www.ContextNaples.com has useful and fascinating insights about urban trends and issues in Naples; cultural, archaeological and historical information; lesser-known places of interest; events and restaurant recommendations. 

 

            Bay of Naples & Southern Italy (Cadogan Guide.)  In planning our trip, we used this well-researched, insightful and thorough travel guide to Naples, Campania and the rest of the southern Italian mainland.  By Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls. 2005. Published by Cadogan Guides. www.CadoganGuides.com.  ISBN 1-86011-184-X.

 

Time Out – Naples, Capri, Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast.   This guide is being revised and updated by Katie Parla, an extraordinarily knowledgeable and insightful ContextRome docent.  The 2007 edition will be available soon.  It’s likely to be superb.   www.TimeOut.com www.KatieParla.com.    

 

In the Shadow of Vesuvius - A Cultural History of Naples.  By Jordan Lancaster.  2005.  ISBN 1-85043-764-5.  A useful introduction to the complex 2,500-plus year history of Naples.   

 

            Naples – Access Information

 

            www.TurismoAccessibile.it is part of the official tourism website of the city and province of Naples.  It has an English section including information about transportation, hotels, museums, etc.  

 

            Italian Disability Organizations

 

            Many Italian disability organizations provide patient services such as transportation in addition to advocacy and medical research.  Many of these organizations have semi-autonomous local branches, some of which maintain their own websites.  The local branches are more likely to provide assistance to disabled travelers than the parent organizations.  To find the websites of local branches not listed below, go to the parent organization website or search the Internet using “Napoli” and the name of the parent organization.

 

AISM (Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla).  Piazza Giovine Italia, 7.

00194 Rome.  www.aism.it sociale@aism.it or aism@aism.it

 

AISM – National Section.  Assistente Sociale Valeria Berio.  Sede Nazionale AISM – onlus.  Via Operai, 40. 16149 Genoa.  Phone +39-010-27-13-205 or +39-010-27-131.  From Italy only, 800-80-30-28.
 

ANIEP (Associazione Nazionale per la Promozione e la Difesa dei Diritti Civili e Sociali degli Handicappati).  www.aniep.it aniep@libero.it.   a.alviti@aniep.it.

 

ANMIC (Associazione Nazionale Mutilati ed Invalidi Civili).  ANMIC Naples.

Ptta Duca Abruzzi, 96.  80142 Naples.  Phone +39-081-55-37-073. www.anmic.it.       anmicnapoli@libero.it info@anmic.it.   

 

DPI Italia (Disabled Persons International Italia).  Via A. Reillo, 5.  88046 Lamezia Terme (CZ).  www.dpitalia.org.      dpitalia@dpitalia.org

 

FAIP (Federazione Associazione Italiane Paraplegici).  Via Cerbara, 20.  00147 Rome.   info@faip-onlus.it.

 

UILDM (Unione Italiana Lotta alla Distrofia Muscolare)– Naples .  www.uildm-napoli.org uildm.napoli@libero.it  Phone and fax +39-081-87-95-457 or +39-081-57-32-200 or +39-081-87-95-457.  National organization www.uildm.org  

 

            General Information About Accessible Travel

 

Access-Able Travel Source has an excellent database of articles and links about accessible travel to a variety of destinations.  www.Access-Able.com

 

Global Access News - Disabled Travel Network has terrific general information about traveling in a wheelchair, and articles and links about travel to a variety of destinations.  It also publishes a superb monthly e-zine with informative and interesting tidbits and links about accessible hotels, apartments, transportation and museums.  To sign up, go to the website or send an email to clearpath@cox.net. (Note the new website address.)  www.GlobalAccessNews.com

 

Emerging Horizons has links to several sources of access information about various cities.  Emerging Horizons publishes a print magazine with articles about accessible travel to a variety of destinations, some of which are also on the website, and also provides practical advice about accessible travel in general. www.EmergingHorizons.com

APPENDIX A

Hotel Wheelchair Access Questionnaire  

Dear Sir/Madam:

 

I am sorry this letter is not in Italian, but I don’t understand Italian.  My wife and I will arrive in [         ] on [            ] and depart on [           ]. We will stay for [       ] nights.

 

I use an electric wheelchair that is [[  ] centimeters ([  ] inches)] wide.  I am unable to walk at all.   My wife is not disabled.  We would like a non-smoking room with one large bed.  We have the following questions about your hotel:

 

1.      Do you have any specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms?  If not, please disregard the other questions.  Thank you and we would appreciate a recommendation of hotel in the area that does have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms.

 

If you do have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms, we have the following questions.  Please answer even if you are fully booked for the requested time, because we are interested in your hotel for the future.

 

1.      Is it necessary to go up or down any stairs in order to get from the street entrance to the guest room?  Does the building have an elevator?  If so, how wide is the elevator door and what are the interior dimensions of the elevator? 

2.      In the bathroom, is there space for a [   ] cm wide wheelchair on one side of the toilet? What is the width of the doorway into the bathroom?  What is the height of the toilet?  What is the size of the shower?  Can a wheelchair roll into the shower?  Are there grab bars near the toilet and shower?

3.      Are all the doorways in the room at least 75 cm wide?

4.      What is the size of the room?  Does this include the bathroom?

5.      Was the building renovated recently? 

 

            If you do have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms, is the room available on the nights mentioned above?  If yes, please quote a price. 

 

Thank you very much.  We can be reached at [                    ].   We really appreciate any help you can provide.

 

Very Truly Yours
 


Click to view

 

Appendix B: Metric Conversion Guide

 

Appendix C: English-To-Italian Dictionary Of Disability Access Words And Phrases
 

Editor's note: Don't miss the following access reports by Howard & Michele Chabner. Just click on the title.

 

Paris 2003-2007 and Burgundy, Perigord (Dordogne) 2007

Paris Passerelles - Wheelchair Accessible Travel In Paris 2003

Paris Appendices: Hotel Wheelchair Access Questionnaire, Metric Conversion & Hotel Wheelchair Access Survey Results) 

 

Paris Passerelles Supplement 2005

Burgundy, Perigord (Dordogne) and Paris 2007

 

Rome,  Florence, Vicenza &  Naples, Italy 2003-2006

 

Rolling in Rome 2003

Vicenza, Florence & Rome 2005

 

2006 Navigating Naples 2006

 

Spain 2004

Barcelona

 

Granada

Cordoba & Seville

Toledo, Madrid, Segovia

Additional Information & Appendices A, B & C

 

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