Disabled Access Review of Bologna
By John Sage
Bologna is the lively, historical capital of the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy. This incredible city is an easy train ride from other major Italian cities such as Florence (35 minutes).
Bologna is famous for its sprawling Piazza Maggiore with arched colonnades, charming cafe and medieval and Renaissance structures including the City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune, the Basilica di San Petronio and the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda.
While Bologna is smaller and doesn’t have as many famous sights as other popular Italian cities, the flatness and ease of moving around here for wheelchair users, combined with few but definitely worthwhile sites to visit, makes this city a wonderful addition to your accessible Italian holiday.
Best Aspects of Bologna Disabled Access
Flat terrain – Bologna is located in the Emilia-Romana region of Italy which is the flattest area of Italy. This is great for mobility equipment users as it makes it much easier to navigate!
Covered sidewalks – Many sidewalks have porticos to protect from the sun and rain. In the summer, that can be a big help to keep your energy level high as you stroll around the city.
Mild cobblestones – While there are many areas of cobblestones and paving stones in Bologna city center, they are not very uneven and shouldn’t present a problem to most disabled visitors.
Excellent accessible city museum – The Story of Bologna city museum is both accessible and excellent. I wish more cities had small museums like this one to give you an overview of the city.
Step-free access into Basilica di San Petronio and other churches –In Bologna, you can enjoy step-free access into the glorious Basilica di San Petronio. Photos of the ramp leading into the Basilica and the Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita are shown below.
Most tourist attractions within walking/rolling distance of each other – Tourist attractions like the Piazza Maggiore, Basilica di San Petronio, the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Pietro, the Two Towers, the food market, and the Museum of the Story of Bologna are all within easy walking/rolling distance. You do not need accessible transportation to navigate between these sites.
Fewer tourists than Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan – If you love medieval palaces, Renaissance buildings, and Baroque churches, but you don’t want the throngs of tourists that comes with visiting the more popular cities, then Bologna is a wonderful place to spend a day or more.
Easy to reach from Florence by train – It only takes about 35 minutes by train to reach Bologna from Florence. That’s a perfect distance and town size for a day trip! Photos of the wheelchair lift to get on and off the train in Bologna are shown below.
Most Challenging Aspects of Bologna Disabled Access
Long walk/roll from train station to city center – Bologna is a medium-sized town and the walk/roll to the city center is 1.5 km (1 mile). That’s doable for mobility scooter users and some wheelchair users, but not everyone. Others will need to book accessible transportation to reach the city center.
Restricted driving in city center – Like many Italian cities, there are restrictions on driving in the city center. Without proper permission, you’ll get an expensive fine.
Busy train station – The Bologna train station handles a lot of connections so it involves longer walking/rolling distances inside the train station than you would expect for a city its size.
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