One of the world’s most beautiful cities is about to become more accessible
Venice is ramping up plans to make the famed Italian city more accessible.
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The beautiful city, full of canals and speckled with more than 400 bridges that require climbing steps, hasn’t historically been particularly friendly for those who have mobility issues that require wheelchairs, walkers or crutches. But that could all change in the near future.
Venice officials have recently pledged to engineer ramps that will connect some of Venice’s buzziest sites, branching off from Piazza San Marco (also known as St. Mark’s Square). It’s a $1.6 million undertaking, but once finished it’ll be the first time in the 1,200 years since Venice’s founding that the city will be wheelchair accessible.
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The first stage of the project will see five bridges equipped with ramps that are designed to be non-slippery and silent, starting with the Ponte de la Croze, near Piazzale Roma, a square at the entrance of the city. That ramp will connect with other bridges that already have ramps, snaking through the vibrant Santa Croce and San Polo areas to the vaporetto (water bus) stop outside the San Polo church. Taking the vaporetto across the Grand Canal to San Samuele, the route picks up and links the Santo Stefano and Sant’Angelo squares before ending at the Venice opera house (Teatro La Fenice).
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Other than the main St. Mark’s path, two other bridges will see the addition of a ramp: one from the Campo della Misericordia square to nightlife district Fondamenta della Misericordia and another on Giudecca island, a popular residential area.
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Part of the reason it took so long for the city to make accessible updates is that there are rigid rules surrounding changes that may affect Venice’s cultural heritage. Other options for wheelchair users have included the vaporetto, which is accessible but only runs select routes and is often crowded, and nonelectric wheelchair-accessible gondola company Gondolas4All, currently in hibernation due to lack of funding.
The plan, according to reporting from CNN, is to have the ramps operational within the next few months.
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