Pouilles handicap fauteuil roulant
Accessibility Italy

My wheelchair travel in Apulia, Italy: Terra di Bari and Itria Valley

on
4 January 2019

When Franck and I started to think about Apulia for our next travel, I looked for information about the accessibility for people with reduced mobility in this region. But I found almost nothing. So I was a bit nervous thinking I would struggle everyday because of stairs, cobblestones and other obstacles. Especially since we decided to visit many old towns. But we were too eager to discover the religious architecture of the region, the Italian food and the wonderful beaches of the Adriatic coast so we bought flight tickets! Well, that was a good call as we discovered that Apulia is more wheelchair friendly than we imagined. So let’s discover the Terra di Bari and Itria Valley’s cities and tourist sites!

Monopoli, Italie.

Visiting Bari in a wheelchair

Most of the tourists decide to skip Bari despite arriving through its airport. And yet, they should stay at least during half a day as it is a good city to step in the Italian Dolce Vita. Indeed by just strolling in the historical city centre “Bari Vecchia” you will be overwhelmed by the Italian way of life. In many streets you will discover curious grannies watching people from their windows after they finish to hang their clothes out. If you are lucky you will even see women making fresh Orecchiette, the typical Apulian pastas, right there in the streets.
Bari, Italie

Bari historical centre.

Accessibility in Bari:

  • Transports from the airport to Bari
Bari airport is fully wheelchair accessible and is equipped with adapted restrooms for people with reduced mobility. The assistance staff is really kind and can lead you to public transports or taxis if you would like to.
To go the Bari centre from the airport the most affordable solution is to take the train as it costs only 5 euros per person. To get into the train the station staff will assist you with a lift platform.
Important information: Only the “Bari Central” and the airport stations are wheelchair accessible. If you are a wheelchair user, you will not be able to get off the train at any other stations.
Train handicap pmr bari aeroport

The platform lift to embark the train travelling from the airport to Bari centre.

  • Rolling around Bari in a wheelchair

Rolling around Bari Vecchia, the historical centre, in a wheelchair is very easy as this area is car-free and there are no sidewalks. Plus, the ground surface is easy to roll on. Unfortunately, strolling outside the old town in a wheelchair is more difficult. Some sidewalks have curb cuts at one end but not on the other and there are many scooters and bikes blocking the way.

fauteuil roulant bari accessibilité

Wheelchair accessible zebra-crossing.

  • Where to eat in Bari?
      • El Focacciaro, Via Salvatore Cognetti, 43. If you need to choose one place to eat that’s here! The focaccia is so yummy! Despite being a very simple dish we found it really delicious. It was so yummy that we came back to eat another before going back to France. Indeed, we didn’t succeed to find such delightful focaccia during the rest of our travel in Apulia. El Focacciaro is not really a restaurant. It looks more like a bakery so you will not be able to sit at a table but if you go just a few metres away you will be able to indulge yourself while looking at the sea. El Focacciaro is wheelchair accessible. Counters are high but transparents so you will still be able to look at all the focaccias, breads and other luscious dish before choosing your meal.
    Focaccia. Focacciaro, Bari.

    The best focaccia ever!

    • La baresana, via roberto da bari, 6. A perfect place for the pizzas lovers! There is a sill of a few centimetres to enter the pizzeria. Toilets are wide enough to enter in with a wheelchair and transfer from side to side to the toilet. But there is no grab bar and the corridor is quite narrow so some wheelchair will not fit in it. During the summer, all the tables are outside on the terrace which is wheelchair accessible.
    • Mastro ciccio, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 15. I was so frustrated to discover this restaurant just during our last day of vacation! The food there is yummy and you are overwhelmed by food options. Sandwich, puccia, arancini, pizza: I would have liked to taste everything! There are steps at the main entrance but there is another entrance on the side street which is without steps. The door is locked but if you knock (or ask help to someone) a waiter will come to open it. Just behind the door, the path is a bit steep so you might need some help.
restaurant Bari

So, are you more of an adventurer or rather classical ?

  • Where to sleep in Bari?
During our stay in Bari we rented a wheelchair accessible studio at the “Visa Residence”, Via Dante Alighieri, 461/a. Inside the studio it is easy to roll around in a wheelchair and the bathroom is fully adapted for wheelchairs users. The only obstacle is the 4 centimetres door sill at the building entrance. Once inside the building, you will access the studio by using a platform lift. Maximum weight is 150kg.
Other importants information about this accommodation:
– The doors width is between 80 and 85 centimetres.
– There is no car park for the “Visa residence” clients nor disabled car space in the street.
Studio accessible pmr bari adapté

Wheelchair accessible bathroom, Studio Visa Résidence.

Polignano a Mare

If you visit Polignano a Mare, you will surely notice “Cala Porto”, this tiny beautiful beach overlooked by the “Ponte Lama Monachile” viaduct. I still can’t decide what surprised me the most: the incredible number of people crowded on the sand or the intense and cristal clear turquoise colour of the sea! At the end of the beach, the old town built on the edge of the cliff, looks stately. While stepping into the narrow streets of this historical centre, the tourists bustle slowly fades away, allowing us to appreciate a stroll in those picturesque alleys.

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare.

  • Getting around Polignano a Mare in a wheelchair
    • The old town ground is covered with flat and big pavement so it is easy to roll there. In some places the ground is uneven but this is still manageable. The pedestrian street “Via Roma” which cross the old town is very easy to roll on with a wheelchair.
    • Most of the sidewalks have curb cuts at their ends but sometimes they might be obstructed by bikes, vespas, bins or other objects. So sometimes it is necessary to roll on the road but that is not really an issue because everybody is used to walk on the roads so the drivers are careful.
    • There is an accessible toilet behind the police office (you have to pay 0,50€) but they are not totally suitable for every wheelchair users as there is no grab bar and the seat is low.
Polignano a Mare accessibilité handicap

Polignano a Mare is quite easy to go around with a wheelchair.

  • Where to eat in Polignano a Mare?

At “il gabelliere” restaurant on the “Piazza F. Miani Perotti”. For 5 euros, I had a puccia and it was yummy and copious. The inside of the restaurant is not accessible but it is possible to eat at a table on the outside sitting area. Or make it a take away, and enjoy it while bathing in the sun on the square right next to the restaurant.

Cala Porto, Polignano a Mare

Cala Porto, Polignano a Mare

Monopoli

Monopoli is a perfect city to discover the sweet Dolce Vita way of life. Indeed in the alleys of Monopoli you will see clothes hanging at the windows or grannies reading, watching everybody and gossiping, standing by the doors of their houses. I really liked Monopoli. I found it more lively than Polignano a Mare. Oddly I found the architecture different, as if it was more recent, but it seems that the town is quite old considering the churches were built during the 12th century.
Monopoli

Monopoli

If you visit Monopoli don’t forget to go to the “Chiesa Santa Maria del suffragio“, the purgatory church. While getting closer, you will immediately be appealed by the lugubrious feeling of the place: on the front door, two skeletons welcome you into the church. Around this door you can also observe many skulls carved in the rock. Inside the church, you will discover other macabre oddities: centuries-old mummies dressed with ceremony clothes.
Unfortunately the church is not wheelchair accessible: there are four steps to enter in it. Also you will have to schedule carefully your visit because the church is only open during the Mass. The hours are displayed on the door.
Chiesa Santa maria del suffragio Monopoli

Chiesa Santa Maria del suffragio, Monopoli.

I also liked to take a stroll along the seafront after having a quick look at the castle. This walk is enjoyable and easy in a wheelchair. But if you have a limited time in Monopoli, I would advice you to go first to the charming fishing harbour which is really picturesque and filled with colourful boats.
Monopoli Italie

Le port de pêche de Monopoli.

  • Getting around Monopoli in a wheelchair
    • The shopping area is easy to roll around. Plus, there are many disabled car spaces. But be aware of the tricky sidewalks: too often they have curb cuts on one side but not on the opposite.
    • The old town ground is covered with flat and big pavements which are easy to roll on. Still be careful because of the tiny grout line: I stumbled over many times.
    • In the old town, there are two disabled car spaces in front of the tourist information site.
Monopoli wheelchair

Monopoli streets.

Alberobello

Alberobello is famous for its trulli, these houses with a conical roof, made of dry rocks often painted in white. These atypical constructions attract so many visitors every year that Alberobello must be the most visited tourist site in Apulia. So I was worried about being completely overwhelmed by the crowd. Plus, I thought I might have seen everything about trulli before visiting the town. So how is it? Well, indeed there are a lot of people and we had to make our way through Alberobello main streets but despite this I was pleasantly surprise. I had a good time visiting this place. It is bigger and more accessible than what I had in mind. I though that they were only a few trulli, all crunched in two or three streets, but that is not the case. Trulli are everywhere in the city and can be even seen scattered in the countryside.
At the top of one of the two hills, you can visit the basilica “S.S. Cosma E Damiano”which is wheelchair accessible via a ramp in the street “Via del Gesù”. On the opposite hill, you can also visit the church “chiesa di Sant’Antonio” : quite simple compared to most of the Italian churches but beautiful. It is wheelchair accessible.
trulli alberobello fauteuil roulant

The famous trulli of Alberobello.

  • Getting around Alberobello in a wheelchair
    • There are some disabled car spaces in the city.
    • It is possible to visit Alberobello without going through streets with stairs. Avoid the street ” Via Monte San Michele” and prefer to go through the “Via Monte S.Gabriele”.
    • Alberobello is built on two hills so the streets are very steep. Wheelchair users will need the help of a very healthy person to push and hold them.
    • The ground is covered with flat and wide tiles which are easy to roll on.
Alberobello

Between the trulli you can see the very steep streets of Alberobello.

  • Where to eat?
If you look for a cheap and good place to eat I would advice you to go to the caterer “Gusto Salumi & Formaggi”, 5 Largo Trevisani, to taste a homemade sandwich with fresh local food. For 4,50 euros, I eat a very yummy sandwich filled with dried tomatoes, coppa ham and burrata.
restaurant_alberobello

So yummy!

Ostuni

If you have only one place to visit in Ostuni it is the impressive cathedral which is wheelchair accessible since June 2018. This cathedral and its many chapels are very well decorated with huge painting on the walls and even on the ceiling.
Cathédrale Ostuni

Ostuni cathedral

Except from the cathedral, I didn’t really like Ostuni. I found that the city lost its identity due to too many tourist shops. Consequently even the historical centre seems to have lost its authenticity and charm, compared to the other cities we visited in Apulia. But surely my opinion was also influenced by the lack of accessibility of the town. Indeed I was able to roll around a few streets only. However Ostuni is really beautiful seen from the outside as the citadel overlooks the plains and vineyards around. As soon as we saw it we understood why it is called “the white city”.
Ostuni Italie

Ostuni, the white city

  • Accessibility in Ostuni 
    • The city has many very steep streets and stairs everywhere which makes it difficult to visit in a wheelchair. It is possible to stroll only in a few streets even with the help of another person.
    • After walking through the street “Via Francant Arc Zaccaria”, in which there are no steps, you can enjoy a very good view on the white citadel and start an easy stroll around it.
    • The museum, often mentioned in travel guides, is not wheelchair accessible.

If you would like to have more information to organise your travel in Apulia you can also read about the most beautiful and wheelchair friendly beaches and about our travel itinerary and budget in Apulia.

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