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Traveling Italian Style: A Day Trip Through the Amalfi Coast








If you’re following me on Instagram/Snapchat/Instagram’s-new-Snapchat-knock-off, then you already know that last week I flew to Barcelona and met up with my mom to embark on a 8-day Mediterranean cruise with Carnival.

My mom really enjoys cruises. I will be honest, I don’t love them, but she is handicapped and cruises are a great way for her to travel. This, however, was her first cruise (and trip in general) outside the US and Caribbean. We were a little disappointed to discover that very few of the ship’s excursions (we were on the Carnival Vista) were handicap accessible. When I inquired with the excursions representative on board, he blamed it on Italy/Europe. He said many of the excursions were impossible because of the difficult terrain, lack of handicap accommodations, and modes of transportation.

While I am well aware that the age and historical architecture of places like Italy make installing handicap ramps and elevators difficult, I know first hand that Italians in particular will move heaven and earth to help children, the elderly, and the disabled/handicapped whenever they can. Thus, I was unwilling to take no for an answer. I really wanted my mom to see the incredible Amalfi Coast, and I knew just who to call!

I met my friend Cassandra through mutual friends in Florence. Like me, she splits her time between Italy and the states. Unlike me, however, she has parlayed her love and experiences in Italy into an amazing travel company that specializes in unique local experiences and custom travel planning -- Travel Italian Style. When I told her my dilemma, she immediately started thinking of ways my mom could see and experience this special part of Italy.

Within the span of a couple days she had used her local contacts to arrange a private driver, Vincenzo, who picked us up directly from the port in Naples (she even ensured we had a van that could fit my mom’s wheelchair, which Vincenzo lovingly hoisted it in and out of the van all day). She created a custom itinerary specifically geared towards places that I could either push my mom around in or that Vincenzo could directly drop us off at. It ended up being the perfect day for anyone, handicapped or not.


Cassandra suggested we start our day and spend most of the morning in Ravello, since it had a relatively flat pedestrian center we could access and explore. She also suggested visiting the Villa Rufolo. The drive from Naples to Ravello took about an hour. We arrived and Vincenzo dropped us off in the center of town. We took photos (btw my mom is great at taking blog photos), explored the main square, church, and Villa Rufolo together before I left my mom sipping a cappuccino while I hiked up to the Villa Cimbrone and the incredible Terrace of Infinity.

Once we finished exploring Ravello, we headed down to Atrani, which was another wonderful suggestion from Cassandra. Atrani isn’t one of the more famous towns of the Amalfi Coast, in fact I had never been. But it definitely should be on more people’s radars! Just look at those adorable umbrellas and that stunning beach vista. Not only is Atrani adorable, the center of town was accessible by car. Vincenzo was able to drop us off in the main square and could walk over to a delicious seaside restaurant for lunch (also recommended by Cassandra).

Following lunch, Cassandra suggested a couple of hotels we could to stop at for some amazing views of the coast and the town of Amalfi. I thought this was a great solution for my mom. If we could not access or explore all of the towns with a wheelchair, my mom could at least see many of them from above.

Our final stop of the day was my personal favorite, Positano. I knew I wanted to take my mom to Le Sirenuse for drinks on the terrace. Despite being a very posh 5-star hotel, Le Sirenuse is always incredibly warm and welcoming. At one point my mom had three men falling all over themselves to help her down two steps! Vincenzo offered to drive my mom further down into town, but by this point she was pretty spent. After a full day of sightseeing, we hopped back in the van with Vincenzo and he took us back to the port. My mom proclaimed that it was one of the best days of her life!

I have to say that when it comes to helping the handicapped/disabled, the Italians have really impressed me. Between the Amafli Coast and Rome, my mom was treated like a queen. Everyone went out of his or her way to help her. Not only was everyone overly helpful, the men (no shocker there) showered my mom with attention. I cannot count the number of hugs and kisses she received. She pretty much thinks this in normal in Italy and wants to move ASAP. If you or a loved one are handicapped, don’t let the cobblestone streets, stairs, and old buildings of Italy deter you from visiting. I am not saying it is easy, but you will have plenty of support and help along the way from the Italians.

I also cannot thank Cassandra enough for planning such an incredible day for my mom. If you ever have any questions about traveling to Italy, need advice on planning, or want her to create an itinerary that will help you experience Italy like a local, don’t hesitate to contact her. She also offers spectacular women-only trips to the Amalfi Coast and Puglia (I think I will do the Puglia trip next summer!).


Do you dream of visiting the Amalfi Coast?

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Ashley B
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12 comments:

  1. I'm blown away at how little tourism boards, agents, adventure/excursion planners actually plan around for the handicapped but I totally agree with you that an overwhelming majority will 'move heaven and earth' to help those in need. My mother is also handicapped and I spent hours upon hours researching the best possibilities for her to experience parts of Italy to accomodate her handicap as well and she was very pleased. I'm also glad your mother enjoyed her customized Italian adventure. This was such a nice read this morning in my feed.
    I look Forward to reading more!

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    1. Lucy, I was in a serious accident and am currently handicapped. I am considering travel in Italy in a month or two. Would you mind sharing what you discovered in your research regarding experiencing Italy with a handicap? Where did your mother go and what activities was she able to do? Thank you! ~ Christi

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  2. The Puglia region is the only part of Italy I've been too - we loved it! We stayed in Bari and ventured out to other areas as day trips when my husband had a conference, and we fell in love! The fresh seafood was incredible, learning how to make burrata, tasting different olive oils and local wines, not to mention the local style of cooking was truly a wonderful experience! Definitely go next summer if you can!

    I'm so glad your mother was able to have such a wonderful day - it must have felt so freeing to be able to experience that hospitality and kindness you encountered that day! With how much lovely attention she got, I don't blame her for wanting to move there!

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  3. I'm glad your mom was able to enjoy Italy, looks like a beautiful trip! I also found Italians to be extremely warm and kind, a bit different from the people in Spain, where I lived!

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  4. These pictures are so breathtaking! I'm so thrilled for you that you and your mother got to enjoy this together! And how amazing that everyone was so loving and willing to help her out <3 <3

    -Clarissa @ The View From Here

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  5. I am going to be teaching abroad in Spain come this October. I was wondering which countries you recommend I visit and when the best time would be to go to those places.

    Thanks, and I absolutely love reading your blog posts and the pictures are amazing!!!

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    1. Hi Innesa,
      How exciting! From Spain you can easily visit France (esp Paris), Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, and Morocco (one of my all-time favs). You will be shocked at how close everything is and how cheap you can fly from country to country. Your biggest expense will be hotels, I highly recommend booking.com. England is great towards the holidays as is Germany. Italy is great year-round, but I am biased ;)

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  6. This seems like a dream day in a dream location! I can imagine Italy is very daunting for people with a handicap but it seems you coped very well. Happy you're mom enjoyed it that much!

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  7. I glad to know that your mom has enjoyed the trip in Italy. This's post is very unique and differ from other for this reason I like it so much) Once I've broken my leg in my trip in Italy I needed to change my way of travelling from bus/train or smth like this to car, especially rental car,(thankfully https://rental24h.com/italy is so good and operative) consequently our travelling continued and all were happy and enjoyed our trip)

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  8. Thank you for writing about your mom's experience as a handicapped traveler. Could you recommend other places in Europe that your mom has traveled in her wheelchair? Or that you are aware to be more accessible? I was in an accident in Germany (hit by a car while in a crosswalk) and am now confined to a wheelchair for at least a few months. But, I am living in Europe for only a short time and do not have time to wait to travel until I am walking again. Any recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! ~ Christi

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christi, I am so sorry to hear about your accident, but I admire your spirit not to let it keep you from traveling! If you want to see Italy, stick to major cities and avoid hill towns and remote areas. You will have no problem on the high speed trains and you can request handicap accessible taxis. You will encounter a lot of frustrations in Italy, things are just so old and hard to make handicap accessible. That said, however, what the Italians lack in accommodations they make up for in helpfulness. They will do what ever they can to help you. I think Rome and Florence are your best bet. You can definitely do the Vatican and I know the Colosseum has a handicap elevator. Churches are also not a problem as they typically host a higher number of handicapped and elderly individuals. Outside of Italy I would think (based on observation, I have not been anywhere else in Europe with my mom) that England and France would be your best bet. I hope this helps!

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    2. Also Christi, you might want to contact Cassandra at Travel Italian Style. She can definitely help you plan for handicap travel in Italy.

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