Despite being the smallest city state in the world, Vatican City, situated in Italy’s capital of Rome, is one of the most-visited destinations on the planet, attracting millions of curious tourists every year. While many visitors hope to catch a glimpse of the Pope, who presides over this 44-hectare city state, just as many come to see the basilica, square and chapel, which are filled to the brim with stunning art and architecture.
At Can Be Done, we always recommend that our clients pay a visit to Vatican City – not only because it’s awe-inspiring, but also because it leads the way when it comes to disabled access. Holidays in and around Rome simply aren’t complete without seeing St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the on-site museums!
Getting to the Vatican
While my team and I have extensive experience in creating bespoke itineraries, I’m also personally familiar with the Vatican, which I’ve visited with a disabled traveller. In both my and my clients’ experience, the site is easily reachable and accessible throughout. If you’re coming from Rome, I suggest taking a taxi for maximum comfort and convenience. Vehicles are allowed to drive you through the gates of the city and take you right into the centre via a tunnel. While a regular taxi will generally not be able to make this trip, my team and I are happy to organise this hassle-free ride for you.
Find Your Way Around
The main attractions, which include St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the museums and the Raphael Rooms, are accessible for the most part, but are sometimes connected via steps. While it’s easy to get from the museums to the chapel and the Raphael Rooms, it’s best to take an external, wheelchair-friendly sidewalk to guarantee a seamless passage from these sights to St. Peter’s Basilica. The route is about 1km long and slopes downhill, making for a relatively straightforward trip from one breathtaking attraction to the next. If you’d like to soak up the sights in relative peace and quiet, it’s best to go in the afternoons, which are usually less crowded than the mornings.
Start with the Museums
When it comes to disabled access, holidays spent exploring Vatican City and Rome make for a stress-free and highly enjoyable experience. I recommend beginning with the Vatican Museums, whose entrance is equipped with a ramp and whose elevators enable you to explore each floor with ease. There’s also a step-free tour route, which you’ll be allowed to use if you ask.
If visiting the Sistine Chapel is on your bucket list (which it absolutely should be), it’s worth mentioning this to the staff when you ask about the above tour route. When you’ve finished making your way through the museums, someone can accompany you there via a level pathway. You’ll also find elevators in this area, which will whisk you away to the famous frescoes in the Raphael Rooms.
The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica
To get into the chapel, ask a staff member to activate the wheelchair lift for you, which will take you down a small staircase. The rest of the chapel is entirely accessible via ramps, and its level floors are well-equipped for handicapped travellers. What’s more, your visit will be entirely free if you remember to bring your disability documentation (although it’s usually not inspected). It’s also possible to take part in a guided tour for handicapped travellers, which my team and I frequently book for our clients.
Last, but certainly not least, head from the chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica, which – as mentioned above – is reachable via an external sidewalk. It’s easiest to retrace your steps and access this route from the main entrance of the museums. While this may sound somewhat laborious, the journey is shorter than it may seem – and is the only minor inconvenience you’ll face. The interior of the basilica is easily navigable for wheelchair users.
The Vatican City may preserve much of its old-world charm, but it’s incredibly progressive when it comes to disabled access. Holidays that my clients have taken in and around Rome have always featured a trip to the above highlights, and have received nothing but positive feedback. To find out more, please get in touch with us regarding our bespoke itineraries and our insider knowledge in matters of disabled access. Holidays are easy and enjoyable with Can Be Done!