A sheer desire to explore and to enjoy what is beautiful in life, to visit new places and to get to know new cultures is something that moves us all. That's why architectural barriers, physical and cultural, which often represent an insurmountable obstacle for disabled travellers should not exist. I have recently been to Torino, in the north west Italy, and I pleasantly discovered that it is a city that has chosen to dismantle many of those insurmountable barriers; thus becoming one of Italy's favourite destination of tourism for the disabled.
Turin has often been overlooked in favour of more popular destinations like Rome, Venice and Florence; but in reality, the city that hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic Games has lots to offer, especially to disabled tourists. In fact, the tourism body of Torino and Province has been busy for several years making this city a top location for people with disabilities. This does not solely mean creating exclusive itineraries, but actually preferential lanes.
For example, the website turismotorino.org has created a section solely dedicated to list accessible restaurants and café, that offer accessible facilities for visually impaired, blind or for anyone with limited mobility. At the bottom of the page you'll be able to find a window with the type of Accessibility you need:
The website also offers plenty of information regarding audio guides, video guides in International sign language, tactile maps and digital content for accessible services on the territory; unfortunately I noted that some of these information are not available in English, which is a shame.
Since Accessible tourism is what drives us at Seable, I decided to share with you a brief list of the accessible sightseeing locations I personally visited in Turin:
The Museo delle Antichità Egizie is the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture. Many international scholars, since the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs Jean-François Champollion, who came to Turin in 1824, spend much time pouring over the collections. It was Champollion who famously wrote, "The road to Memphis and Thebes passes through Turin".
The collections that make up today's Museum were enlarged by the excavations conducted in Egypt by the Museum's archaeological mission between 1900 and 1935 (a period when finds were divided between the excavators and Egypt).
The museum is accessible to wheelchair users and disabled can visit it for free.
MOLE ANTONELLIANA and the NATIONAL CINEMA MUSEUM
The Mole Antonelliana, the architectural symbol of Torino, was originally meant to be a synagogue but the Municipality of Torino bought it in 1878, while it was still under construction, with the intent of turning it into a monument to national unity. Construction was completed in 1889, and at the time of its completion, at 167.5 meters in height, it was the tallest masonry building in all of Europe. In 1961, on the occasion of the celebrations honoring the 100th anniversary of the Unity of Italy, a panoramic lift was installed. The lift was renovated in 1999 and now takes visitors up to the "small temple" and the extraordinary 360° view from its balcony over the city and the amphitheatre of the Alps. The ride in the transparent crystal cabin lasts 59 seconds as it ascends through the centre of the cupola. There are no intermediate floors between the lift's departure point at the 10 meter level and its arrival point, 85 meters higher up. The building now houses the National Museum of Cinema and it's fully accessible.
The exhibit area located on the Museum's entrance level offers an unusual and stimulating museum experience and is also accessible to sight-impaired or blind visitors. A tactile path gives visually-impaired visitors autonomous access into the Mole Antonelliana and to the exhibit area. A panel outside the Museum's entrance features a relief map and writing in Braille indicating the various services located on the Welcome Level.
There is also an exhibit area with the tactile path is dedicated to the history of the Mole Antonelliana; it is located in an alcove along the building's perimeter. Posters on the walls feature several of the building's friezes; in the centre, a wooden model of a cross section of the Mole Antonelliana (in scale 1:100), a full-size plaster cast of a head of the Gorgon Medusa and panels with visual-tactile drawings of the various construction phases of the building encourage tactile exploration.
Visitors can thus familiarize themselves with various types of materials and architectonic and decorative details of the Mole Antonelliana as they rediscover sensorial capabilities that aren't normally used to their full potential.
TURIN CATHEDRAL AND THE SHROUD
Turin Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and it's mostly known for being the current resting place of the Shroud of Turin (a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man, is believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth). The church is accessible to wheelchair users, but this entrance is situated on the right side of the church. You will have to ring the bell and you'll get access to a small lift that will give access to the church.
CAFFE AL BICERIN
This historic coffeehouse is a gem that have been serving an hot drink made with coffee (secret recipe) in Turin's piazza della Consolata since 1763, the interior hasn't much since it's last renovation in the arly 19th century. The drink is delicious and the coffeehouse is small but fully accessible.
Although I visited many places in Italy, it was my first time in Turin. As Italians we often think of it as an industrial city and the home of car manufacture FIAT. Instead I found a vibrant city full of hidden gems, great squares, markets, museums and delicious food; and of course, a place that had been prepared and adjusted to welcome disabled tourists. At only 1 hour and 45 minutes flight distance from London, Turin is a place that deserves a visit, and I am sure you'll have a great time.