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Accessible Rome - To Market, To Market

Mary Murphy-Hanson

Accessible Rome: Getting around Rome in a wheelchair, for the disabled traveler. Read Wheelchair Travel for some basic information.

Rome is defined by her open air markets. The Porta Portese market on Sundays, the daily Campo dei Fiori market, the market in Trastevere, and the large enclosed market at Piazza Vittorio. All the markets in Rome are accessible to the wheelchair traveler.

Campo dei Fiori

The Campo dei Fiori market is the most touristy of the markets with a number of vendors selling typical tourist stuff, but there are lots of other vendors selling produce and household wares. It is south of Piazza Navona, in the historic center, and is the most accessible in terms of distance for the wheelchair traveler.

Mary at the Campo dei Fiori

Mary at the Campo dei Fiori

Trastevere Market

Across the river by Santa Maria in Trastavere is the Trastevere market. This is a traditional market with an emphasis on what is available on the local farms or brought in from the ocean fresh-caught. Trastevere is best accessed by tram. Get the tram at the Largo Argentina that is heading into Trastevere and get off at the second stop after the river. There are accessible ramps from the tram at both ends of the trip.

I was introduced to a fifth generation Trasteverean named Elena who offered to take me through the Trastavere market. One of her good friends is Maria, the daughter of a stall owner at the Trastevere market. This is a multigenerational business with grandparents farming, parents harvesting and taking the produce to market and the kids selling in the market. It is also a dying occupation. Like Americans, Italians are resorting more and more to fast food and take out. In Italy there is a saying "the ground is low" meaning stoop labor is brutally hard. With decreasing income and rising labor costs the feeling is that within 10 years the markets will be tourist attractions only.

Mary in the Trastevere Market with Elena and Maria (blue knit cap)

Mary in the Trastevere Market with Elena and Maria (blue knit cap)

Piazza Vittorio Market

The largest daily market in Rome is the Piazza Vittorio market. Move it to the mercati trajani, dress the vendors in tunics, change the date to 100 AD and this is an ancient market. Spices, meat, fish, vegetables from around the world. The din and smells can be overpowering. I found cilantro and chili peppers for Mexican food, rice noodles and Soya for oriental food. Rome was the original melting pot and the tradition continues today. The area around the Piazza Vittorio houses a number of Asian immigrants. The signs on the store windows are calligraphy, the restaurants are oriental. Romans deny they have a "Chinatown" but having been to San Francisco I'd be hard pressed to determine the differences.

Resources

Slow Travel Photos - Accessible Rome: Photo essay to go with these pages.


Mary Hanson is a wheelchair traveler with four months experience navigating Rome in a wheelchair. When she isn't visiting her heart in Rome, she resides in Phoenix with her husband Tom and her mutt Beau-dog.

© Mary Murphy-Hanson, 2005

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