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Forums » Italy & Malta » Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

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Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by ohno9999 »

Hello old travel buddies!  Have not been on the boards in quite a while but know this is where to come for good info on traveling Italy.

I have booked a transatlantic cruise from Rome to San Juan, PR (RCCI) Nov 5-17.  I am thinking of cancelling because my already mobility challenged body is worse.  Can still walk short distances but due to an injury and lack of movement my muscles are weak, probably not going to get a lot better by then, or ever.  I can probably do a short block before I need to sit for a few minutes, then good for another block for a few times.  So what I am looking for is information to help me decide if I should do the trip.  I am looking for suggestions of a small town that is pretty flat, no or few stairs that would still be interesting to hang out for a week or so.  I have seen plenty of museums and points of interest, and would enjoy them if they are easy on me, but am more interested in local charm, friendly people and good, but not terribly expensive, food.

It is likely I will fly into FCO (not booked so flexible) and will leave from Civitavecchia.  I want someplace where there is either direct train service or close to it so I do not have to deal with train changes with luggage, if at all possible.  I am an older solo female traveler and have been to Italy a few times, usually solo.  Mostly I have traveled in central and Northern Italy but long ago I was in Positano.

Any suggestions?  I wrote this out earlier then lost the entire post when someone came to my door.  I am not opposed to renting an apt, as I have several times in the past - maybe in the $700-800 a week range, but can be flexible.  I like not having to eat out all the time.

Thanks for any input!

 

 

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by mushroom »

Hi ohno!  Glad to see you still have an appetite for traveling but at the same time want to protect yourself!

 

The only Italian town i can think of that might tick all your boxes is Orbetello, which you can reach from Rome central and Civitavecchia without changing trains (in fact, you might even be able to get an affordable taxi transfer from the airport). It is flat, friendly, has delicious fresh food (particularly seafood), will have nearly zero tourists in November, and you might be able to plan a few excursions to nearby places that are not too taxing (like a ferry ride to an island, or a visit to the spa town of Saturnia etc). 

 

There is a language school in Orbetello whose website will give you a fairly clear idea of what the town has to offer.  It might even be that in November you could buy into some of the school's activities, even if you don't want a full (or any) language course.

 

https://www.orbitlingua.it

 

Here's another website that will show you more about Orbetello

 

https://wevillas.com/news/things-to-see-in-orbetello-nature-beaches-and-tradition

 

No-change train rides don't give you a lot of options if you also need flat walks and prefer smaller places. Salerno to the south is probably too busy for you (and might have too many stairs when it comes to sightseeing) and Bologna to the north is also a city, not a small town.  There are some Italo trains that I believe would take you directly to either Ferrara or Padova from Rome's Tiburtina station if you are willing to go that far north.  (I can't remember if you've been to Padova or not.).

 

There are some small cities that I quite like that can be reached from Rome without changing trains -- Bari, Livorno, Pisa -- but I tend to think you'd not really like spending a week in any of them.

 

Overall, Italy hasn't changed when it comes to being mobility-friendly.  It's not. And in smaller towns, public transportation is more limited, stores close many hours during the mid-day and elevators are harder to find.   You will want to factor that in.

 

 

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by Chuck Cleveland »

I was pleased the honorable Ms. Mushroom responded to your request. I hope the information provided will  give you an "oh, yes" moment, and the resultant trip will far exceed your exprctations. 

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by ohno9999 »

Thank you, Mushroom.  I checked the links you included and while I got a little info about the town on the language website, the other one helped round that out.  I know I had a lot of parameters and didn't think they would likely all be met.  Not sure if that town sounds interesting enough or not.

 

What I didn't mention in that post (there was much more detail in my original post that disappeared) is that I might also be able to fly into Bologna with my frequent flyer miles, just a little more complicated and more hours total for the flight.  I also tenatively have a hotel booked for 5 nights in Bologna.  It is Albergo delle Drapperie (I think my spelling is off, but don't want to risk loosing this post too, by going out to get correct spelling.).  My goal was to get as close to Piazza Maggiore, thinking that was where the fresh market was.  I am no longer sure if that is the market place but looking around on Google maps this morning, found it is very close to the Mercado di Mezzo, which looks like I could spend a week in itself.  I know Bologna is a major train hub.  I have to say, I still get intimidated with train travel and changes, so that is a positive for Bologna.  Do you think this is a good location in general, and near shopping other then food?  My thought is if I am centrally located I would not have to walk far for a variety of scenery and shopping since I have no must sees monument-wise.  Would enjoy them if convenient, but it won't ruin my trip if I don't get there.  I think I need to change my dates for this hotel but believe they still have availability.  If I did Bologna, I would still have about 8 days for somewhere else before embarking for the cruise.  Best I can find for "normal" weather is lows in the 40's, highs in low 60's for last 2 weeks in October.  Bonus:  truffle season, right?

 

What do you know about Arrezo generally?  I got to see a casual walking tour of shopping from Lisa Robertson, who used to be the most popular host on QVC.  She now has her own business selling via video chats and online, with a heavy emphasis on jewelry, specially good Italian jewely.  She goes to many of the major shows, including in Italy, and has great connections with the Italian jewelry people.  She took her "tribe" on a walking tour of shopping in Arrezo and I wanted to go ever since, but in reality, don't know if it is worthwhile for me.  I noticed it was on the train route leaving Bologna...thanks again!

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by mushroom »

 

Bologna is, of course, one thousand times more interesting than Orbetello, especially in autumn, and a better bet for rainy days than coastal towns, especially since so many of its streets are covered. Albergo delle Drapperie is right in the heart of the historic food markets and for every conceivable other kind of shopping too (although having visited the Mercato di Mezzo, I would give it low marks. It's a tourist-gentrification creation that seems kind of silly in the middle of the historic markets. It actually won't take you more than a few  minutes to walk though the Mercato di Mezzo unless it it packed with group tours).  But the high-end clothes and jewelry shops of via Farini are about a 5 minute walk from Albergo delle Drapperie, and the hotel is also about a 5 minute walk from the more unusual shops of the via Massimo d'Azeglio. And lots of quirky stuff in between.  When you are reading reviews for the hotel, see if people say anything about street noise at the crack of dawn (if noise bothers you), because that is when trucks come in to deliver food. But the overall location is great for you and there are many places in the market area where you can eat a small fresh cooked meal rather than a full restaurant meal if you decide to stay in a hotel rather than have a kitchen.

 

The best of white truffle season in Italy is late November into January, but since Piemonte holds its truffle fair in October, it has become more common to find them in October being served in restaurants and sold in shops.  Probably the surest bet for getting a truffle-focused dinner in Bologna is at Da Nello, which is (according to Google) 400 mt from Albergo delle Drapperie. 

 

I think there are a few trains that will get you from Bologna to Arezzo without changing trains in Florence.  I really enjoy Arezzo, but as cities go it is actually pretty small, and be aware that the best parts of it sit on a very noticeable slope, so some daily climbing is probably unavoidable. For an extended stay in Arezzo I would want my days there to include an antiques market weekend.  I can't remember if Arezzo holds that market once every month or twice every month. The town itself is filled with lovely antique shops which are open during the week, but the huge weekend antiques market, with many visiting vendors, is one of the most interesting of its kind in Italy. Food in Arezzo is nowhere near as interesting as food in Bologna, but the wine is much better. 

 

I was actually thinking of you today as I was walking around my part of Italy, trying to get a few things done, because -- due an extremely minor self-caused injury to my foot -- I found myself constantly reminded of how few places there are to simply sit down it Italy without buying something.  Benches are next-to-non-existent, and even department stores and other shops very rarely offer any seating to tired customers. Churches are not always open. Bus stops don't have benches. Italians frown on sitting on the edges of fountains or monuments, or steps of public buildings. And getting things done in Italy  often means standing for quite some time waiting for help or to pay for a purchase.  At one store I finally spotted a manager's desk with a chair nearer the back room and asked to sit in it ("Certo!"), and at the pharmacy, I simply plopped myself down at the blood pressure machine until it was my turn at the counter. There I bought some relief for my foot, which I took back to the stool and applied right in the store.  At the end of my errands I got into a taxi -- not cheap, but I didn't feel like waiting on a train station platform, where there are seldom enough or any places to sit. 

 

That's a really long way of saying that if you will want a way to sit down every few minutes when you go shopping or exploring, you might want to bring something light to carry or easy to roll that is also a seat so you are sure to have a seat whan you want one.

 

One more thought is that, with so many days before you need to show up for your cruise, have you thought of spending some of the days in one of the quieter and flatter small areas of Rome where you could enjoy an experience similar to what you are looking for in Bologna?  Not all of Rome is noisy and filled with mobs of tourists, and there many quiet streets within reach of a lot of variety in shopping, and it is not hard to find cheap but tasty eats in Rome.

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by mushroom »

 

 

streets of Rome

 

https://www.romeing.it/category/features/streets-of-rome/

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by ohno9999 »

Thank you so much Chuck.  Travel Saint Mushroom has come through for me (and so many others) once again.  I am about to read her latest reply and know I can always rely on her expertise and generosity to take the time to give thoughtful answers.  Their are a few factors for me to consider, mostly health related.  Believe me, just reading a list of destinations almost anywhere in the world gets me excited!  My spirit is willing but my body is unpredictable.  Luckily I have adjusted my expectations.  Just don't leave me home!

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by ohno9999 »

Mushroom, so much good info.  Remember 2 yrs ago I was going to go to Bologna for a week and ended taking your advice to go to Verona?  Verona is now one of my favorite cities and I was so glad I went there.  One lucky thing, for me, was an abundance of benches and other places to sit, but you can't always find one when you need it.  Sorry you hurt your foot and hope it is better soon.  It does really make you aware of the issues many have.  Usually I do find a church open and will sit for a short time and get to enjoy the beauty of it at the same time.

 

I went back and reread the reviews of Albergo delle Drapperi because I am sensitive to the noise (Florence was the worst; between fighting in the street and garbage pickup I was lucky if I got 2 hrs, between 3 and 5am to sleep.)  There was a couple of mentions of it, but also comment that rooms in the back, top were quiet.  I did request a quiet room but who knows if that will be honored.  At this stage location trumps sleep for this trip.  I would prefer an apt so I could spread out and make a few meals myself, but not sure I can stomach new searches.  I also checked out the website and menu for Da Nellos and think maybe I will just move in there!  Even though I wasn't sure what half the listings were, I knew enough to get a good idea of the dish.  I noticed a hotel near it, the Grand Hotel Majestic and looked on their website.  Quite nice but quite expensive for a week.  I think 3 nights cost as much as a week at my current reservation.

 

Strange enough, if I did go to Arrezo, the days work perfectly for me to hit the second day of that months' antiques market!  What were the odds?  By the way, it is held the last Sunday of the month and the Sat before.  I do think it might be frustrating to find something I really want but it doesn't fit in my luggage.  I could manage a 2 night stay then on to Rome. Not sure if it is worth it to pack up and stop there (getting oriented, travel etc.) for two nights.  I am open to a week or less in Rome but find it overwhelming to try to figure out where.  If I had an apartment I would need a grocery very close.  I remember 2 yrs ago you suggested Trastevere  (sp?  How do you pronounce that?).  Is there an area in there that you think would be good.  The neighborhood's in Rome was interesting, with a lot if diversity.  I love green spaces but they usually come with more walking and less close by services.  Love flowers too.

 

Here is your laugh for the day:  I love Andrea Bocelli and it would be unreal to catch him in concert in Italy, so I went on his website to see the Oct/Nov schedule.  He is in the US then!  And very steep ticket prices.  I do love music and would enjoy some in Italy.  Not into the very heavy or repetitive pieces.  I did attend a concert in a church when I was in Lucca and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by mushroom »

The Majestic is in a much noisier location than Albergo delle Drapperie, and da Nello is a short walk from via Drapperie, so no reason to switch. 

Many of the items sold at the Arezzo market are small items that are easy to transport.  Last time I was in Arezzo it was not during an antiques market weekend, but I spotted in a window two somewhat small wooden plaques that were formerly used by traveling marble salesman to show customers various types of marble, each piece of wood being inlaid with a dozen different colors and grains of stone, each less than 2 inches square.  The shop was closed with a note on the door "Be back soon", and after waiting 30 minutes, and needing to get to the train within the hour, my husband and I tried every way we could think of to find the owner, and some of neighborhing shop owners did too.  No luck, and we had to leave, and still wish I had gone back or called from where I live.  I still want them! -- although we actually never had any idea how much they cost, so we might have ended up without them once we heard the price.   

 

Anyway, despite not actually being to get my hands on them, I doubt they were heavy.  It was a thin piece of wood and thin slices of marble for each sample, just enough to show the grain.  After all, if you're a traveling marble salesperson, you learn to lighten your load. 

 

My foot is fine, thank you.  Next time I'm in Bologna I'll look around to see if they have benches, but it is worth every penny to spend long hours in the piazza Maggiore.  It is one of the great people watching spaces of Europe in my view.  I think it's possible most people who live in Bologna pass through the piazza at least once a day, and it is ringed with pleasant cafes with outdoor seating under portici.  

 

I'm losing track of how many days you will be in Italy.  If you decide to include Rome, every neighborhood has plenty of food shops right at hand.  But instead of Trastevere, which is village-y but isolated, one of the better places for you to stay might be in Prati, which has flat paved sidewalks, which are much easier for walking than Rome's antique cobblestones.  It has legendary food shops with prepared foods plus clothes and perfume shopping nearby. 

 

https://www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com/blog/where-to-shop-rome-prati/

 

 

 

 

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RE: Mobility Challenged Looking For Mobility Friendly Town

by mushroom »

 

also, here's a lot of pictures of the antiques market in Arezzo to show you that it is a real mix of large and small items, some of them tiny

 

http://girlinflorence.com/2016/02/18/antiques-and-piero-day-trip-to-arezzo/

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