Guest blogger: Me, My Brother & His Chair – Take on Rome

We’re lucky to have guest blogging brothers Thomas and Tyler regularly reporting back on their adventures in Europe. This week’s update (written by younger brother Thomas) includes some valuable tips for wheelchair travel to some of Rome’s key sights.

An exceptional update from our two inspirational jetsetting kids and their family is below:

IMG_6474Thomas and Tyler’s Favorite Adventures in Rome

1. The Colosseum.
This is the number one place Tyler and I wanted to see in Rome. The Cosseum is an ancient sports arena. We chose an audio headset tour to be guided through the Colosseum. Tyler and I loved the stories about the ancient gladiator games that happened there. Did you know they fought to the death?!

Wheelchair Accessibility. The Colosseum is completely wheelchair friendly. When you enter the Colosseum, skip the line and head straight to the ticket counter. People in wheelchairs and one other person assisting them pay no entrance fee. The elevator is located down the main corridor to the left of the ticket counter past where you purchase the audio headset. Which, by the way, is €5.50. We went to the Colosseum around 5:00pm. It was a perfect time to visit! The crowds were almost gone, the heat was subsiding and we were easily able to get up close and see each point the audio tour suggested. The cobblestone streets surrounding the Colosseum are a little bumpy, however, but we managed ok 🙂

2. The Roman Forum.
I loved being where ancient Romans used to walk. Julius Caesar ruled there and is even buried here. Even today they are excavating and finding new Roman buildings artifacts that have never been seen before. Also, your ticket into the Colosseum is your ticket into the Forum. Tip: You don’t have to pay twice.Wheelchair Accessibility. The large cobblestones getting up to the Forum are treacherous! The Forum has a wheelchair lift when you get inside; but the Forum, truly, is only 10% accessible. Tyler sat under a tree in the shade with grandpa and his iPod while we quickly explored.

3. Street performers and Souvenir Shopping.
I bought a sword in Rome and it was an exact replica of a real roman sword. The name of the shop I bought the sword from was called ARKEOS, it is very close to the Forum. It is on Via IV Novembre next to the sandwich shop Subway. ARKEOS also has Roman Jewelry and Roman armor. Tyler and I had a blast there! Also, it was so fun to watch the street artists create their paintings right there on the sidewalks of Rome. There were also performers that had live animals, like birds. Some of the birds sat on our shoulders. I’m glad we had time to stop and watch.

4. Gelato.
We had gelato every night that we were in Italy. I liked the Oreo flavor and Tyler’s favorite was Stracciatella or chocolate chip. We would eat our gelato and walk around the streets of Rome at night when it was cool. It’s the best time of the day!!!

5. Saint Peter’s Basilica.
This is a large Catholic Church. It actually is the biggest church I have ever seen. Big is an understatement it is gigantic and everyone should see it sometime in their life! Did I mention it was big! You have to be very quiet when you are inside. They also made us take off our hats. There are lots of pictures and statues of Jesus. We got to take an elevator to go to the rooftop. My grandma and grandpa stayed there with Tyler while my mom, dad and I walked over 300 steps. The steps actually started to curve because we were climbing the inside of the dome. The view from the top of the dome was AMAZING. I could see all of Rome!

Wheelchair Accessibility. On the right of St. Peter’s square is a line to get through security and into the Basilica. Skip the line and go strait to the wheelchair entrance. They will take you though security without waiting. From there, go all way down the corridor to the door on the far left. There is a ramp to get into the Basilica. Once inside it is completely accessible. If you are so inclined to go up to the top for a better view, do it!!! But, know that wheelchairs are only able to go to the roof, (free of charge) Stairs are the only access to get to the top of the dome. The roof of the Basilica has lots of shade, a nice breeze and large wheelchair accessibly bathrooms.

6. Eating REAL Italian food.
Almost every night I ordered margarita pizza and Tyler ordered the spaghetti carbonara. Nothing beats Italian food. It’s fun to sit in a sidewalk cafe and people watch as you enjoy your meal.

7. The Vatican and seeing the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican City is where the Pope lives and is the head of the Catholic Church. We took a guided tour. The tour guide taught us all about history and art. Michelangelo’s greatest work can be found inside the Sistine Chapel. Did you know that he did not lie on his back to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling? We saw a letter he wrote with a sketch of him standing up while painting the ceiling!

Wheelchair Accessibility. There is a wheelchair lane to get to the front of the line. People in wheelchairs and one other person assisting them pay no entrance fee. We booked a tour in advance which is a great way to see the Vatican Museum!! Once inside the lobby, there is an elevator to get to where you are going. There are also great wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Once on the tour there are elevators to get you where you need to go. There are a few rooms, however, you will miss them due to logistics. The tour ends in the Sistine Chapel. Our tour guide said that there are “a few” steps to get from the Chapel to the Basilica. NOT TRUE! It is nearly impossible to get from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica unless you have a really strong person to lift you down the 75+ steps.

8. Spanish Steps.
My mom, grandma and I climbed to the top of the Spanish Steps. The Spanish steps has over 200 steps from top to bottom. Even though Tyler was not able to climb the steps, it was still fun for him to be there and see this beautiful site. It was also fun to fill up our water bottles in fountain at the foot of the steps. Rome is very famous for its clean fountain water!

Wheelchair Accessibility. Obviously, because The Spanish Steps are steps they are not accessible. But the Piazza and Fountain at the foot of the steps are wonderful and a definite must see!

9. Pantheon.
The Pantheon is the oldest building in Rome. There is a hole in the very top of the building. My dad told me that the hole held all of the weight of the building and it could not fall down because of that hole. Because there was no modern equipment the workers added dirt around the outside of the Pantheon so that they could get the building materials up high as they built it. Every day the workers would scatter money in the dirt. When the pantheon was done being built, there was dirt surrounding every inch of it. So, the people of Rome were invited to come take the dirt and any money that they found inside the dirt, they could keep! Cool huh!!!

Wheelchair Accessibility. Other then a couple of steps to get into the building, The Pantheon is completely accessible to a wheelchair.

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