Getting around the city of Florence with a physical disability can be a challenge. Consider that the city streets and all of the buildings in the historical center are hundreds of years old if not older and it is only just recently that both public and private buildings, as well as churches, have started to implement the necessary adaptations to allow anyone with a physical disability to enter them without too many problems. Unfortunately there are still many places with steps to get onto buildings and sidewalks.
Most museums in Florence are accessible. They are equipped with elevators, stair lifts and ramps to access rooms. All state museums, as well as the Uffizi Gallery and the Academy Gallery, offer free entrance to visitors that are disabled and an accompanying person but you need to show certification of a disability. If you book museums ahead of time, you might want to indicate if you need assistance during your visit.
City museums and most major churches (where admission fee is requested) also offer free entrance to the disabled person plus one accompanying person. The Opera del Duomo Museum, Giotto's bell tower, the Baptistery and the San Marco Museum are NOT free. Entrance into the Cathedral is free for everyone (disabled or not).
Driving in Florence's ZTL
If you have a disability and arriving in Florence with your own car, you can actually enter the Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL) in the historical center with no limitations - and for free - BUT you need to notify the SAS office ahead of your arrival, or at maximum, within a day after your arrival. Some hotels will do this for you but ask your hotel ahead of time to ensure they will do it for you to avoid any unpleasant hassles and surprises at your arrival.
Pass to DRIVE into the ZTL restricted driving area
Ufficio Persone con Disabilità - Rilascio Contrassegni
Monday through Friday, 08.30-13.00/14.00-16.30
Tel. 055 40401 // 800 339891
Before you arrive, therefore, either call (toll-free number +39 800 339891 or 055 40401, multilingual operators, open Monday-Friday 8:30am-1pm/2pm-4:30pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your "permit" to enter the ZTL area. The info you need to provide is: name and surname, your vehicle license plate number, details of your disability certificate, city, status of the disabled person and the length of your stay. They will provide the information you need and answer any questions you might have about entering the ZTL.
Keep in mind that you can also use preferential lanes AS LONG as the disabled person is onboard the car, but both transit and parking in pedestrian areas are prohibited at all times, within the ZTL and outside the ZTL area.
Parking in Florence
You have two options for free parking, either on-street parking spaces or the car parking lots operated by Firenze Parcheggi. This is for both in the ZTL and outside the area.
1. ON STREET PARKING: These are marked in yellow lines and have signs that mark them for disabled. But if you find a registration # below the sign, it means that disabled parking space is actually reserved for a specific person - so don't park in those! If you don't find any specific spaces marked for disabled people, you can actually park in ANY white or blue lined marked spaces. You can park for FREE with no time limit but make sure your disabled parking placard is clearly visible on the front dashboard through the window. I suggest you also print this Italian translation of your placard and display it on your dashboard right next to your country's disabled parking placard: http://www.disabledmotorists.eu/download/parking_cards/notice_italy.pdf
2. The “FIRENZE PARCHEGGI” parking lots offer a certain number of parking spaces for disabled persons that are made available at no charge.
For Italian and foreign visitors who have a regular disability permit, the easiest solution is to take advantage of the disabled parking spaces found OUTSIDE the parking lots (the parking lots at Piazza Ghiberti, Parterre and Porta al Prato have them outside), being careful to display the permit through the windshield.
If you don't find space outside the lot, then you will need to park in the parking lot but read carefully the following so that you don't end up having to pay for it:
- to enter the internal areas of parking facilities, there are entry gates where you take a ticket, then the bar opens and you enter. DO NOT TAKE A TICKET!! Drive in to where the ticket would be handed out and press the SOS button on the entry gate post - again, WITHOUT withdrawing the ticket. Do NOT use any lane marked Telepass as they won't have the SOS button for you to use. An operator will reply around the clock (24/7) and at that time you can give your car's identification info (vehicle license number plate, city and country of issue, the number and validity dates of your own disability permit). The operator will issue a special ticket if there are available parking spaces for disabled persons. The ticket will be for FREE parking up to the maximum limit of 20 days. You will use this ticket as you exit, without paying anything for parking. MAKE NOTE that if they say there are no disabled parking spots left inside, you can use the car park only if you pay the normal fees.
Again, if you, as a visitor with a disability, withdraw a normal ticket at the gate or enter through the Telepass lane without first communicating your car data, you will be obligated to pay the normal parking fees and cannot request a refund afterward for the parking. For a complete listing of the Firenze Parcheggi parking lots, check our Parking in Florence page.
If you want to park within the ZTL area, most parking garages are private and do charge disabled visitors their normal fees.
If you would like to move around by bus, most ATAF buses ride pretty low to permit getting on and off without too much difficulty. Most buses are also equipped with a special deck for loading wheelchairs and dedicated space on board to park them. The entrance to get on board in this case is the central door but you need to request assistance from the driver as he needs to lower the deck to get on.
The taxi company So.co.ta. has 4 vans to be used specifically to transport anyone with a disability on a wheelchair. You can call for one (or reserve one for later in the day or another day) at the following number: 055-410133 between 8am-1pm and 2-5pm Monday through Friday. The vans have a platform for any type of wheelchairs. Rates are the same as for all other routes on a taxi. You can read more about using taxis in Florence here.
If you need to rent a wheelchair to aid you while visiting the city, the tourist point in Piazza della Stazione (located on Piazza della Stazione 4) offers 2 wheelchairs for free use. You can request it directly at the infopoint, by phone by calling +39 055 212245 or by email at email@example.com. A deposit of € 150 will be requested (either cash or credit card), which will be returned once the wheelchair is returned. They can be rented for 2-3 days max.
The Arciconfraternita of Misericordia, right in Piazza del Duomo, also offers this free service. It is best to call ahead to make your request at +39 055 417761. You can also go to the Fratellanza Militare Sede Sud, located near the Pitti Palace. Rentals are free according to availability and the phone number is (+39) 055-26021.
Otherwise, for a more ample selection and for electric scooters/wheelchairs, you need to consider renting directly from some shops. Here are a few to look into and contact for rental rates. Some will deliver at your hotel so that you can find it upon arrival. I've listed email addresses and websites so you can see what they offer (even if the info is all in Italian.
Via Pisana 37
Via Scipione Ammirato 39/R
Officina Ortopedica Renato Rombi
Via Girolamo Frcastore 33/35/37
Many restaurants and bars are accessible for the disabled but if you're set on dining at a particular restaurant, search for them online and contact them to double check, book and make any arrangements needed.
Itineraries in City Center
Florence's City Council has drawn up a number of suggested tourist itineraries in the historic city center which includes specific information with regards to accessibility for anyone with a physical disability. Visit the council's site at www.comune.fi.it/viverefirenze/itinerari.html for more information. The site is, unfortunately, only in Italian. If you're interested in these itineraries, let us know as we could translate some of the material and post on this section if there is a request for them!