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Italy on crutches: Colosseum Underground? Duomo and Campanile? Alternative ways to sightsee?

I dislocated my kneecap over 3 weeks ago and thought I'd be walking by now, but I'm not. :( My physical therapist doesn't give me very good odds for getting off the crutches soon. We'll be leaving for Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal in just 2 weeks, so at this point I'm starting to wonder what I'll actually be able to accomplish.

  • Is there any chance I'll be able to manage the Colosseum underground tour? I can navigate stairs slowly as long as there's a railing, and I can put a little weight on my bad leg and walk/hobble if I need to. (We already pre-booked the tickets, so not much can be done there if I can't go.)

  • What about the Duomo and Campanile in Florence - are there elevators or accessible ways to get up to the top?

  • Does anyone have recommendations for alternative ways to see the Rome and Florence while on crutches? Any favorite tours or ways to get around and take it all in when walking isn't possible?

Sadly, there's really no way we can cancel this trip - we didn't buy trip insurance - so I'm just trying to make the most of it while also not killing myself crutching around everywhere. Recommendations would certainly be appreciated. Thanks. :)

Posted by
9389 posts

Good for you for having a positive attitude! Take your time, rest often, and don't get frustrated!

I think the Colosseum will be challenging but not impossible. There are some elevators. You might want to try a tour Walks of Italy or Three Millennia for some expert help. A sensitive guide who knows the venue well can really help you plan and execute a tour.

The Duomo proper (ground level) in Firenze is not a problem, but the Campanile is stairs only. The museums are pretty accessible though -- Accademia and Uffizi.

Rome has Hop On Hop Off tour buses galore. Try one of those for easy transport.

Posted by
11613 posts

Duomo and campanile in Florence will not work for you, but there is an elevator to the roof of Saint Peter's basilica in Rome. Also an elevator for the campanile in Venice. All major museums have elevators, at some you may have to request access from the staff. In Rome, take the #116 electric minibus around the historic center (validate your ticket on board), it will get you close to sights that bigger buses can't, and it's fun, and only holds a small number of passengers. This bus goes all the way to the main street of the Galleria Borghese.

You will see plenty of other people on crutches (cobblestone casualties).

Posted by
3696 posts

I traveled with a walking cast on my leg one trip and it was definitely different, but have to say I did not find too many problems. However, I set my sights a bit lower and knew that there were things I would decide not to do. But, what it did allow me to do was to sit a little more in cafes, soak in the ambience and really slow down. People were usually very kind, and I did get to board the plane first:) I was near the end of my recovery and Europe helped me heal... I was able to get rid of the cast before the end of the trip:) However, my leg did swell a lot on the way home on the be sure to drink lots of water, elevate your leg, and walk often during the flight. Have a great trip!

Posted by
4152 posts

i wouldn't sign up for any tours. You'll want to be able to go at your own pace and tours tend to keep to a schedule. If you need to stop for a while I'm not sure a tour could accommodate that.

You can ask at each location for the handicap routes. There is an elevator in the colosseum that you can use. You probably won't have any issues seeing the underground section but you won't want to even try to get to the third tier. Those sets are very narrow and high. I don't like going up them and coming down them always frightens me, and I have no mobility issues.

At the Vatican museums you can ask for the route that the people using wheelchairs use. It will take you to all the elevators and make the trip much easier. You can also borrow a wheel chair at the Vatican. They are on a first come, first served basis but that would mean you don't need to hobble around.


Posted by
146 posts

I saved this trip report about a golf-cart driving guide from TA because I wanted a solution if my own knees bit the dust. The writer was due for hip surgery and so not mobile. It might be awesome in Rome. Here I a bit from and the link to his Rome report on TA featuring the cart.
He said:
We spent the majority of the next two days with Paolo Apolloni of My Best Tour on his golf cart touring the city – this couldn't have been a better idea given my hip.....We toured central Rome all over the place – one of the most wonderful parts of touring Rome with Paolo is both his knowledge (he has been doing this for twenty five years) but also his ability to scoot around the awesome side streets of Rome and also arrive at the front door to major sites.

Posted by
23258 posts

Buses - the little electric 116 mentioned above is great - will be much easier than trying to use the Metro. Then can get you just about anywhere in Rome, and there are decent buses in Florence too, and several of the mini electric ones there too.

Posted by
55 posts

I will be in Rome end of May and lst week of June. Can I get more information on #116 electric bus: where to get the bus approximate frequency of buses. Also about Galleria Borghese: how to get ticket in advance. This is a casual visit for me. No ten churches in 2 hours! I am staying in hostel about 30 minutes from Rome and will take the local train back and forth to Rome. Thanks for any help.