Wheelchair Accessible Venice Carnival
by Fiammetta Draghetti © 2002
 

 

Fiammetta Draghetti and her boyfriend, Marco, of Rome, Italy, visited Venice, Italy during its famous Carnival season (February 8-11, 2002) and returned with many insights regarding this city of canals and how to cope with them in a wheelchair.





 

This is a story of a journey to a place that offers little access to handicapped people. But you will still appreciate the beauty of this town at the price of the many architectural features that deny accessibility. You simply have to resign yourself and accept it if you use a wheelchair…but we found that there was more than one solution:

1. At the local tourist office (APT - Azienda Promozione Turistica di Venezia), there are many city maps showing special routes for disabled people in Venice, and there is also a key to use on the chair lifts installed on the bridges along the paths. (The people at the tourist office are honest and warn you that sometimes these chair lifts don't work!).

2. A personal assistant can help you if the chair lift doesn't work, and, I suggest, that an assistant could help you discover other marvelous places of this enchanting town where you will scarcely believe your eyes.

The hotel where we slept is "Hotel Il Violino D'Oro"  ***, which is really close to St. Marco Square, (Tel 0039 041 2770841, Fax 0039 041 2771001).

Warning: There is a bridge without a chair lift from the hotel to St. Marco Square.

Hotel Il Violino D'Oro

Toilet

Shower

In this hotel there is a really nice disabled room with a well-adapted bathroom for disabled people and a view of a canal.

In the double room, there is 1 meter free space around the bed and a television. There are no steps either inside the room or in the common areas of the hotel. A wheelchair 60*90 can go into the hotel lift.

The hotel’s main entrance has steps, but the secondary has a ramp and only one step in the end. The hotel staff is ready to help you.

Giovanni. assists Marco across Il ponte dell albergo.

When we travel, we usually prefer to have only one dedicated personal assistant, and in Venice we found a wonderful personal assistant (really friendly and pleasant) named Giovanni. Without him, our holiday would have been completely different! We are convinced that in a peculiar town like Venice the presence of a personal assistant is essential in order to enjoy a  wonderful holiday without any problem. If you call Mr Frank Bastianello at 0039 041 782760 - Mobile 0039 3281561023, he can help you to find a local personal assistant, like Giovanni.

Warning: Venezia is a very expensive place! For a simple salad and a piece of bread in a bar in front of the Rialto Bridge, you can pay 25€ or 30€ each.

A good thing to know is that between the bridges there are no architectural features that deny access to handicapped people, and there are also two "vaporetto" (=water bus) lines adapted for disabled people: N°1 and 82.

Wandering around in Venice, we could appreciate the beauty of the town, without any architectural problems. Moreover, when we found some hard bridges to cross over, and we had doubts whether to go or not, Giovanni didn't give us time to think: he simply lifted the wheelchair and soon after we were on the other side of the bridge. If there were a sport called: "take the disabled and go", Giovanni would be the champion!

A Note on the Rialto Bridge, an Austrian man wanted to help us, and so I can affirm that on this special bridge we really made a record…I could see the shops and the Rialto jewelers…but it took us no more than 10 minutes to cross the Bridge!

Spermatozoons in 
St. Marco Square

Old Woman dressed up 
as a '600 Lady

Costumed Revelers at the carnival.

It was Carnival in Venice, and you could see every kind of  "maschere" in the town! Germans dressed up as shepherds, and, in the night, spermatozoons in St. Marco Square!

Everywhere music captures you! From the "Gondole", in the square, at the street corners …Vivaldi, Bach walk with you.

Also in a wheelchair, you can go on a Gondola without any problem. A Gondola tour in the "canali" costs about 80/100 € and lasts 45/50 minutes. Before starting the tour, you have to negotiate the cost, and I suggest that the best moment to do that is in the evening, at sunset, when there are not many motorboats in the "canali," and the water reflects the evening's lights. The gondoliers are usually young, and they can help you to put your wheelchair on the gondola.

A curious spectacle is when the gondolas cross a "canale". The gondoliers tell each other their love ability towards their respective wives or daughters! We assisted at one or two of these "exchanges"…

In Venice there are more than 400 bridges, and now we can affirm that we know a lot about them...step by step!

I have some restaurant information in the section titled "references" in this article, but here I would like to say that if you have a special occasion to celebrate, there is no better place than "The Terrasse" at the Hotel Danieli! They stop the revolving door for wheelchair users, and the central shutters are opened. Then you enter the sumptuous reality of the hotel hall, (at Carnival time it is full of mascheras and decorations). An elevator takes you up to the highest floor, where the Danieli Restaurant offers a unique and spectacular view of  the Laguna and St. Giorgio Island.

I have no words to explain the food you can eat in this very glamorous setting, where an important note is the courtesy and the affability of the customer service. After dinner you will pay everything…but to spend an evening like this is a unique experience. The best way to conclude your holiday!

References

There is a special Venice Card that covers the price of the battello and of public toilettes. There is also a type of Venice Card that covers also the price of museums. All info is on the web site: http://www.venicecard.it

To obtain a city map showing the special routes for disabled people, you can call APT (Azienda Promozione Turistica di Venezia) +39 041 5415887. At both the train station and the airport, you can get the city map and a key for the chair lifts along the town paths (if they work… Good luck).

The map also shows the locations of accessible toilettes for disabled people.

Warning: if you are on a battello in the evening and fog is coming in, it may happen that the battello stops working!

Restaurant suggestions:

Hostaria ai Coristi, Tel 0039 041 5226677, near "Teatro La Fenice.

Da Raffaele, Tel 0039 041 5232317, near the Hotel "Violino

For additional access information on Venice, visit these website:

Check of Fiammetta Dragheti's other travel articles on the following destinations:

Sardinia Mauritius
Maldives Prague

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