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Visiting Milan and Venice while disabled

Visiting Milan and Venice while disabled

Old Jun 22, 18, 7:07 pm
  #1  
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Visiting Milan and Venice while disabled

Background: Friend, our two partners, and I are cruising from Venice late November. I use a 150kg power wheelchair and am comfortable with moderate bumpiness, steep slopes, and relatively narrow paths. My friend uses a walker and has Coeliac's Disease. Our partners are both able-bodied, and we've all done a fair bit of international travel. Also, I've read a number of threads here and on TripAdvisor and have looked extensively through the relevant pages on www.sagetraveling.com/ and https://europeforvisitors.com/.

Our current plan is to arrive in Milan Tuesday, visit one site in Milan on Wednesday (probably Duomo cathedral because some sites say Il Cenacolo is accessible while others say there's a 12cm step, and I can't find any detailed accessibility info about the ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa), catch a train to Venice on Thursday, visit Murano and Burano Friday, have nothing specific to do on Saturday but get to the ship, and then see stuff around St. Mark's after the cruise returns the following Saturday. Partner and I fly out of VCE noon-ish the next day; friends leave by train later.

My questions:

I know we aren't spending enough time in Venice, but is the above plan a reasonable one for a late-November visit? Should we do St. Mark's on the Friday before the cruise and Murano/Burano the Saturday after? Should we be doing other things entirely?

Are crowds in late November smaller enough that we should consider a hotel near St. Mark's? Hilton Molino Stucky looks very interesting, but various comments on FT and from family of other couple suggest it's likely to be too cold/windy and too far from Venice proper. We're looking at the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant'Elena if we can't snag an affordable and accessible Marriott/Starwood. Should we opt for something more central than the BW?

I read on the New Venice Vaporetto Rules thread about why wheelchair users get a discount. Does anyone here have a sense of how likely it is my friend could also get the discount, as she would find it difficult and exhausting to use bridges with stairs? If I buy extra discounted tickets and she sits on her walker (it's designed for it) on the boat, would we probably be okay? Also, are the special rules/waiting areas still in place? (Were they ever?)

Are the "temporary" ramps for the 2018 Venice Marathon likely to be in place when we're there? I've read they can be there Oct-May, but some people don't mention them at all.

Finally, does anyone know of particularly wonderful gluten-free-friendly and accessible cafes/restaurants/grocers in Milan or Venice? My friend has access to online communities that will have GF recommendations, but I figure this is a good group to ask too (I've already directed friend to the Dining in Venice and Help with Venice restaurants please! threads)

Thanks for any guidance you can provide. We'll try hard not to be obnoxious tourists, and we'll be sure to have coins and small bills for use at shops and restaurants!

Last edited by FlyingPenguin; Jun 22, 18 at 7:15 pm Reason: left a word out
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Old Jun 24, 18, 12:59 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by FlyingPenguin View Post
Background: Friend, our two partners, and I are cruising from Venice late November. I use a 150kg power wheelchair and am comfortable with moderate bumpiness, steep slopes, and relatively narrow paths. My friend uses a walker and has Coeliac's Disease. Our partners are both able-bodied, and we've all done a fair bit of international travel. Also, I've read a number of threads here and on TripAdvisor and have looked extensively through the relevant pages on www.sagetraveling.com/ and https://europeforvisitors.com/.

Our current plan is to arrive in Milan Tuesday, visit one site in Milan on Wednesday (probably Duomo cathedral because some sites say Il Cenacolo is accessible while others say there's a 12cm step, and I can't find any detailed accessibility info about the ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa), catch a train to Venice on Thursday, visit Murano and Burano Friday, have nothing specific to do on Saturday but get to the ship, and then see stuff around St. Mark's after the cruise returns the following Saturday. Partner and I fly out of VCE noon-ish the next day; friends leave by train later.

My questions:

I know we aren't spending enough time in Venice, but is the above plan a reasonable one for a late-November visit? Should we do St. Mark's on the Friday before the cruise and Murano/Burano the Saturday after? Should we be doing other things entirely?

Are crowds in late November smaller enough that we should consider a hotel near St. Mark's? Hilton Molino Stucky looks very interesting, but various comments on FT and from family of other couple suggest it's likely to be too cold/windy and too far from Venice proper. We're looking at the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant'Elena if we can't snag an affordable and accessible Marriott/Starwood. Should we opt for something more central than the BW?

I read on the New Venice Vaporetto Rules thread about why wheelchair users get a discount. Does anyone here have a sense of how likely it is my friend could also get the discount, as she would find it difficult and exhausting to use bridges with stairs? If I buy extra discounted tickets and she sits on her walker (it's designed for it) on the boat, would we probably be okay? Also, are the special rules/waiting areas still in place? (Were they ever?)

Are the "temporary" ramps for the 2018 Venice Marathon likely to be in place when we're there? I've read they can be there Oct-May, but some people don't mention them at all.

Finally, does anyone know of particularly wonderful gluten-free-friendly and accessible cafes/restaurants/grocers in Milan or Venice? My friend has access to online communities that will have GF recommendations, but I figure this is a good group to ask too (I've already directed friend to the Dining in Venice and Help with Venice restaurants please! threads)

Thanks for any guidance you can provide. We'll try hard not to be obnoxious tourists, and we'll be sure to have coins and small bills for use at shops and restaurants!
The sage travel website appears to offer good information. My husband and I have traveled to Venice in November for the past 20 years. Great time to be in Venice. I recommend skipping Murano and Burano as your time in Venice is so limited. I agree that the Hilton is a poor choice for all of the reasons you mention. I suggest staying in the area of Santa Maria Formosa or Santa Marina (near each other in Castello area). It is a lovely, quiet area and off the beaten path yet not far from San Marco. Moreover, some of the hotels in that area have been nicely renovated and are accessible. My favorite hotel is Ai Cavallieri. I know that they have accessible rooms on the ground floor and the breakfast room on the first floor can be accessed via small elevator. I don't recall seeing Venice Marathon in late November.
Re: Gluten free options.. so much outstanding seafood and risotto in Venice that I believe that avoiding gluten should not be difficult. The restaurants in that area, I believe are accessible, particularly the newer ones, Osteria Santa Marina is one restaurant which immediately comes to mind.
Once you decide on a hotel, I recommend sending an email to the Concierge. They are generally very knowledgable and able to answer more specific questions.
All best wishes traveling to my favorite city in the world.

Last edited by obscure2k; Jun 24, 18 at 1:11 pm
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Old Jun 25, 18, 12:42 pm
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Found this thread today. Great resource

Gondola for People in Wheelchair
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Old Jun 25, 18, 6:10 pm
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Thanks, obscure2k!

Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
My favorite hotel is Ai Cavallieri. I know that they have accessible rooms on the ground floor and the breakfast room on the first floor can be accessed via small elevator.
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll email the hotel to ask about the size of the elevator, as small could be an issue.

Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
I don't recall seeing Venice Marathon in late November.
Ah, sorry. Wasn't clear: the marathon is in October, but some web pages say the "temporary" ramps installed on the route's bridges aren't taken down until May.

Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
Osteria Santa Marina is one restaurant which immediately comes to mind.
The photos of the food are gorgeous, and according to TripAdvisor, it has gluten-free options and is wheelchair accessible. It's going on the short list!
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Old Jun 25, 18, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingPenguin View Post
Thanks, obscure2k!



Thanks for the recommendation. I'll email the hotel to ask about the size of the elevator, as small could be an issue.



Ah, sorry. Wasn't clear: the marathon is in October, but some web pages say the "temporary" ramps installed on the route's bridges aren't taken down until May.



The photos of the food are gorgeous, and according to TripAdvisor, it has gluten-free options and is wheelchair accessible. It's going on the short list!
Ai Cavallieri does have an elevator from ground floor to first floor for breakfast. It is a small elevator but can accommodate 2 people and 1 large bag& bellman. Believe it would easily accommodate a wheelchair, without extra people in elevator. Room service is also available..
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Old Jun 27, 18, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by FlyingPenguin View Post
Background: Friend, our two partners, and I are cruising from Venice late November. I use a 150kg power wheelchair and am comfortable with moderate bumpiness, steep slopes, and relatively narrow paths. My friend uses a walker and has Coeliac's Disease. Our partners are both able-bodied, and we've all done a fair bit of international travel. Also, I've read a number of threads here and on TripAdvisor and have looked extensively through the relevant pages on www.sagetraveling.com/ and https://europeforvisitors.com/.

Our current plan is to arrive in Milan Tuesday, visit one site in Milan on Wednesday (probably Duomo cathedral because some sites say Il Cenacolo is accessible while others say there's a 12cm step, and I can't find any detailed accessibility info about the ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa), catch a train to Venice on Thursday, visit Murano and Burano Friday, have nothing specific to do on Saturday but get to the ship, and then see stuff around St. Mark's after the cruise returns the following Saturday. Partner and I fly out of VCE noon-ish the next day; friends leave by train later.

My questions:

I know we aren't spending enough time in Venice, but is the above plan a reasonable one for a late-November visit? Should we do St. Mark's on the Friday before the cruise and Murano/Burano the Saturday after? Should we be doing other things entirely?

Are crowds in late November smaller enough that we should consider a hotel near St. Mark's? Hilton Molino Stucky looks very interesting, but various comments on FT and from family of other couple suggest it's likely to be too cold/windy and too far from Venice proper. We're looking at the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant'Elena if we can't snag an affordable and accessible Marriott/Starwood. Should we opt for something more central than the BW?

I read on the New Venice Vaporetto Rules thread about why wheelchair users get a discount. Does anyone here have a sense of how likely it is my friend could also get the discount, as she would find it difficult and exhausting to use bridges with stairs? If I buy extra discounted tickets and she sits on her walker (it's designed for it) on the boat, would we probably be okay? Also, are the special rules/waiting areas still in place? (Were they ever?)

Are the "temporary" ramps for the 2018 Venice Marathon likely to be in place when we're there? I've read they can be there Oct-May, but some people don't mention them at all.

Finally, does anyone know of particularly wonderful gluten-free-friendly and accessible cafes/restaurants/grocers in Milan or Venice? My friend has access to online communities that will have GF recommendations, but I figure this is a good group to ask too (I've already directed friend to the Dining in Venice and Help with Venice restaurants please! threads)

City of Venice - Cittą per tutti - Accessible Venice - The Accessible Venice Map

Thanks for any guidance you can provide. We'll try hard not to be obnoxious tourists, and we'll be sure to have coins and small bills for use at shops and restaurants!
Venice has a motto, "A city open for everyone." They go out of their way to be accessible.

They have a website dedicated solely to inform people with limited mobility, including those who rely on wheelchairs, to get around. They even have a map that you can download that allows you to get from one side of the city, all the way to the other side in a wheelchair. It's called, "Accessible Venice." City of Venice - Cittą per tutti - Accessible Venice - The Accessible Venice Map

I don't think you have time to see Venice, Murano, Burano in 3 days. You will wind up not seeing anything. It's not how many places you "do," it's how many places you experience. You can't experience Venice in just 3 days.

They put up ramps for the marathon, which happens in October, not in November, and then they take them down. Around 2010 or 2011 they realized that there are some that they should just leave up all the time, in the most heavily trafficked parts of Venice, as in around San Marco. Those are always up now, and are part of the landscape, but most of the others are gone a few days after the race. The answer is that some are now up all year, meaning around San Marco, but most are not.

Crowds or no crowds, there is no reason ever, just never, never, to stay around San Marco. When it comes to San Marco, just say no. This applies to anytime of the year. It is like staying in a souvenir shop. Go and see it at night, after the cruise ships have left, or to go to the Museo Correr, or something like that, but staying in San Marco is a no, never, ever. Unless you are into touristy trinket shops, microwaved food designed for tourists, and people hassling you all the time to buy a souvenir. Go there early in the morning or in the evening, or late at night, but stay in the still real, authentic neighborhoods of Venice.

Molino Stucky should be out of the question. Whereas Venice is quite accessible, it is on a more distant island, Giudecca, and is not accessible at all. You will be trapped at the hotel unless you take a boat to Venice proper, and they only run so often. Don't believe the hotel about how often their private motorboat goes back and forth. It only picks up and drops you off at two places in Venice, and you will have a hard time getting to and from tne in Dorsoduro, and the other one is in San Marco, where you shouldn't be. And if you miss it, you'll be stuck for a few hours.

The vaporetti are completely accessible. They go out of their way to accommodate people in wheelchairs. Just one caveat. Even in November, around San Marco the vaporetti can be so full when it arrives that there is no space left for a wheelchair. A really skinny person can make their way on, but if there is no room, there is no room. There is a separate line for people in wheelchairs, and for locals, but these special lines only exist at a few locations, like around the train station, etc. Not at every single vaporetto stop. There is a discount for people in wheelchairs. You pay the same price as a local, which I think is 1.5 euros. Whether someone with a walker, not a wheelchair qualifies, is going to be at the discretion of the person who is on the vaporetto. There is a person who opens a gate who lets people in, and lets people out. It's up to them, and will vary from boat to boat.

There is no problem in Venice with people who have celiac disease, and cannot tolerate gluten. In northern Italy, rice is almost as popular as pasta, so there will be plenty of rissotto, once you get away from San Marco and the tourist areas. Also, Venice is the land of seafood. There is no place to graze a cow or raise chickens. In Venice, you live off of seafood.

I love Sant'Elena, and used to have an apartment there. It is in deep, deep Castello, and is real authentic Venice, unchanged for centuries. It has nothing in common with what most people experience in Venice, which is to hang around San Marco. I can't speak specifically to that hotel, but the neighborhood is fantastic, although I cannot recommend it to you without reservations. It is at the far, Far East end of Venice. You will have to take a vaporetto to go anywhere. I routinely walk from one end of Venice to the other, but out there in Sant'Elena, the average person is going to need to take a vaporetto, unless you are a very strong walker.

The vaporetti stop at docks that float, so no matter the tide, the dock is generally fine for just wheeling on or off. Motoscafi, or water taxis do not have that ability. If there is a high or low tide, there may be a high step to get off or on the boat. However, there are special water taxis that have a hydraulic lift for these purposes. You just have to request an accessible water taxi. One thing to ask, because I do not know for sure, is that I think the motoscafi only allow one wheelchair on them at a time, so two people in a wheelchair would probably need two boats.

Last edited by Perche; Jun 28, 18 at 12:39 am
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