General Advice

Gondolas4all: wheelchair-accessible gondola rides

ABOVE: This video from Gondolas4all shows how the service works. (If you'd like to donate to the nonprofit project, click the "Donate Today!" ad in the video.)

Venice is a more accessible city than you might guess, despite its more than 400 footbridges--nearly all with steps. If you plan your sightseeing carefully, you can explore much of the city center by wheelchair over level pavement, using the public vaporetti (water buses) to get from one accessible area to the next. (We cover the basics in our "Accessible Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com.)

Still, until recently, you were out of luck if you wanted to enjoy one classic Venice sightseeing experience in a wheelchair: taking a gondola ride. Gondolas4all, a project that launched in spring of 2016, has rendered that limitation obsolete with a wheelchair-friendly pier and gondola next to the Piazzale Roma on the edge of Venice's historic center.

The Gondolas4all pier has a mechanical lift that picks up your wheelchair, slides it horizontally over the gondola, and lowers the wheelchair into the boat. And that's it: Once the wheelchair is in the boat, you and your companions enjoy a standard gondola ride.

For more about Gondolas4all, including a booking form, visit:

www.gondolas4all.com

To see a first-person account of a gondola ride in an electric wheelchair with Gondolas4all with a video), go to:

Martyn Sibley: Gondolas4All in Venice


Where to find Gondolas4all:

The Gondolas4all pier is on the Fondamenta Cossetti, just south of the wheelchair-accessible Hotel Santa Chiara on the Rio Novo next to the Piazzale Roma.

Use the Google Map below to find it, and be sure to book your ride ahead of time. (Gondolas4All is in the rectangular notch on the left side of the canal below the words "Rio Novo." If you zoom in, you'll see "Gondolas4all" on the Google Maps 3D view.)


Five hotels near Venice's Piazzale Roma

These 5 hotels are just a short walk from Venice's airport buses, land taxis, and People Mover (which serves the Tronchetto parking garage and the Marittima cruise terminals).


 

The Piazzale Roma is a transportation hub on the edge of Venice's historic center. It's the last place that you can reach by land taxi, airport bus, car, or bicycle before you enter the citywide pedestrian zone.

In our Venice Hotel Guide at Venice for Visitors, we have articles about hotels that are convenient to airport transportation, the railroad station, the cruise terminals, and other locations (including hotels within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the Piazzale Roma).

In this post, we'll focus on just five hotels that are either directly on the Piazzale Roma or a couple of minutes away with only one small bridge to cross.


Directly on the Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Santa Chiara, Venice

Hotel Santa Chiara ****

The Santa Chiara is at the northwest corner of the Piazzale Roma, next to the Ponte della Costituzione or Calatrava Bridge that crosses the Grand Canal to the Venezia Santa Lucia railroad station.

The hotel has 40 rooms--some in the original historic palazzo, some in a fancy new wing, and a few in an annex (the Residenza Parisi). Wi-Fi is free, and parking is available nearby for a fee. For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Santa Chiara pages at Booking.com.

Ca' Doge, Venice

Ca' Doge

The Ca' Doge is a small inn that faces the People Mover station, where automated trams provide frequent, inexpensive service to the Tronchetto parking island and the cruise terminals at Marittima.

In addition to its six rooms, Ca' Doge has a private parking lot on the premises, which makes it unique in central Venice.

The inn's location isn't lovely, but it's perfectly safe, and it's convenient if you're arriving or departing with heavy or bulky luggage.

For more information, click the link above or see the Ca' Doge pages at Booking.com.


One small bridge away from Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia ****

The Papadopoli (named after a noble Venetian family of the 1700s) is part of the McGallery Collection of boutique hotels operated by Sofitel, an upscale French hotel group.

The hotel has 97 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar with a private library. It's only two minutes or so from the Piazzale Roma over a low stone bridge that's easy to cross with luggage.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Papadopoli Venezia pages at Booking.com.

Hotel Arlecchino, Venice

Hotel Arlecchino *

The three-star "Hotel Harlequin" is extremely easy to reach from the Piazzale Roma. You just walk through the trees at the edge of the square to a canal, turn right, cross a small bridge, and there you are.

The Arlecchino has 24 rooms, and we suggest spending a little more for a room with a canal view.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Arlecchino pages at Booking.com.

 Best Western Hotel Olimpia, Venice

Hotel Olimpia ***

The Best Western Hotel Olimpia is a sister property of the Hotel Arlecchino. It's just to the right of the latter as you cross the footbridge from the Piazzale Roma.

The hotel has 35 rooms and suites, a private garden, and a bar.

For more information, click the link above or see the Hotel Olimpia pages at Booking.com.


Santa Chiara Hotel: Perfect for cruisers and luggage luggers

Santa Chiara Hotel, Venice

ABOVE: The Santa Chiara Hotel is next to the Grand Canal and the Piazzale Roma, making it easy to reach from airport buses, taxis, parking, and cruise ships.



V
enice's Santa Chiara Hotel has long been popular with cruise passengers and visitors with heavy luggage, for a simple reason:

It's located along the edge of the Piazzale Roma, just a short walk from airport buses, land taxis, and the People Mover elevated tram to the Tronchetto parking garage and the Marittima cruise terminals.

From the Santa Chiara Hotel, it's easy to reach Venice's historic center on foot:

  • You can cross the Calatrava Bridge (railing in the foreground of the photo above) and continue past the railroad station toward the Piazza San Marco. Or...

  • You can cross a smaller stone bridge behind the hotel to reach Venice's main sights by a less crowded (and, to us, more interesting) route.

In the past, the 500-year-old palazzo-style hotel suffered from a major shortcoming: It was small, so getting a room could be extremely difficult at busy times of the year. Now, with the opening of a modern (and fully-accessible) addition with superior guest rooms and conveniences, the Santa Chiara can accommodate more guests than before.

Still, we recommend booking early to be sure of getting a room at the Santa Chiara Hotel or its annex, the Residenza Parisi. You can always cancel your reservation if you change your mind.

Tip: Our hotel partner, Booking.com, offers guaranteed lowest available rates with free cancellation in most cases. To check rooms and rates, see:

Santa Chiara Hotel and Residenza Parisi

We also suggest viewing this page at our travel-planning site, Venice for Visitors:

Walking Directions to the Santa Chiara Hotel

Finally, here's a nighttime photo of the hotel and the Calatrava Bridge:

Ponte di Calatrava and Hotel Santa Chiara