How to Travel in Italy with Disabilities or Food Allergies


Sometimes traveling overseas and diving head first into a foreign culture can be intimidating, even in the best of circumstances. Now imagine that you are planning a trip to Italy and you are allergic to wheat, or confined to a wheelchair. That’s a whole other level of intimidating. Fortunately, although food allergies and disabilities can make planning such a trip more challenging, they do not make the trip impossible.

One of the Italy blogs I read recently updated the lists of information and resources for people traveling in Italy with dietary restrictions and with disabilities, so I thought I would highlight them here.

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As someone who is lucky enough to not be limited on what I can eat (except for the fact that I still don’t like mushrooms), I might have passed these lists of resources for food allergy translations into Italian. But my in-laws are plagued with food allergies, from wheat to shellfish to milk, so when I saw this information I immediately thought of them. And, of course, they’re not alone. Food allergies are becoming more and more prevalent these days, and some of them are serious enough to require hospitalization. That is the last thing you want to deal with, especially on vacation. So, be sure to read up on these useful tidbits. The list on this page is about food allergies and dietary restrictions in general, and this one covers translation cards so you can learn to say “I’m allergic to peanuts” in whatever language you need. And this one is for my father-in-law – being gluten-free in Italy – certainly a challenge when you consider that every day at least one meal contains pasta throughout most of the country.

The next set of lists is for those who are handicapped or disabled in some way. Most of the time, I don’t consider the surface I’m walking on – unless I’m trying to negotiate a soft lawn in stilettos – but for people confined to wheelchairs, cobbled medieval Italian streets might scream “hassle,” not “charm.” And what about all those old churches and historic sights? Will they all have ramps, or will they just have stairs? While this list of information for handicapped and disabled travelers won’t necessarily answer every potential question, it is a great start. There are links for wheelchair accessible Rome, about whether you can use your disability parking card overseas, and a whole separate page with information about travel through Italy for people with not only ambulatory problems but also those who are sight or hearing impaired. Much of the latter has links only in Italian, but you might be able to run them through some online translators and get an idea of what to expect.

Certainly traveling to Italy with a disability or a food allergy will present issues that other people might never consider, and that does not mean that a trip to Italy is not do-able.

Photo by: Lawrence Chard