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Getting around Milan with a wheelchair is reasonably easy and certainly nowhere near as challenging as Venice. Milan does offer some challenges: the pavements can be uneven, quite a lot of the streets – and seemingly many of the side streets where the pavements are too narrow for a chair and the street is used as a short cut - are paved with uneven slabs with big gaps between them. Street curbs can be as high as nine inches and the tram lines are difficult and painful to get across. On the plus side, traffic does stop at crossings for a wheelchair, there are extensive pedestrian areas and people are very helpful and only too willing to lend a hand or advice.
Another tip: Apart from the Last Supper, it isn’t necessary to book in advance for any of the main sights. The crowds go for the Duomo and that’s about it.
A good place to start is the website http://www.milanopertutti.it. The site provides details of access to nearly every sight in the city. Some of the details aren’t too easy to follow, but it gives the reader a good overview of easy access locations.
Here are some details regarding wheelchair access when visiting Milan's most interesting attractions:
Duomo: There is a ramped section to the main entrance in the west end of the building and the whole of the ground floor is accessible. Two flights of stairs lead down to the crypt, which may be difficult to maneuver. The Duomo does get very crowded and it’s quite dark – so you have to take care negotiating your way around groups who are hanging on their guide’s every word.
Access to the roof: there is a lift that is accessed externally on the SE corner of the Duomo. Seven steps lead up to the lift and the security guards will allow visitors to leave their wheelchairs at that point. The roof is only partially accessible – the route runs through buttresses which narrow the path considerably and about half way along the northern side of the building is where the steps start – very awkward and quite difficult to manage. There is another lift at the NE corner of the Duomo but it has the tendency of attracting longer queues..
Pinacoteca Brera: Very accessible and as a leading international gallery extremely high on the list of things to see. The wheel chair access is at Via Fiori Oscuri 2: continue up via Brera from the Scala end, past the main entrance into the gallery and turn right into Via Fiori Oscuri. Enter by the first archway on the right hand side (it’s some way down the street) and turn right to the security desk. The lift is next door to the desk. Take care when disembarking on the first floor – the door outside the lift opens into the often busy shop. Access is completely on the flat for the whole of the gallery except for two small areas close to the exit where there is one step up. The disabled WC is off Room VIII and scored highly for access and cleanliness. Also, there are free lockers with the keys available at the ticket desk.
Botanic Garden: This opens from 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Friday. A highly attractive area to the rear of the Pinoteca and accessed from Via Fiori Oscuri 4 – the next archway along from the above. Passing through the arch, bear left and follow down the pebbly driveway (a little rough but nothing serious) to the bottom. The Garden is fully accessible, shady and worth a look for a peaceful sit down.
Villa Reale: A wonderful piece of architecture, but some of the contents may not be quite to everyone’s taste. Coming into the courtyard from via Palestro, access is to the left under the building where there is a stair lift to the ground floor – staff will come out and operate it for visitors. Disabled toilets are just inside the foyer to the left right after the stairlift. Access to the first floor is via a lift at the further end of the building. However, the highlight of the building are the gardens at the rear, accessed along a driveway to the left of the main building. Pleasant grassed areas, trees, ruins and a lake with ducks and terrapins. Just the place for a picnic on a hot day.
Palazzo Clerici: This is a curiosity at Via Clerici 5, which is now the home of the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale. One of the glories of the building is the gallery that has a magnificent ceiling by Tiepolo, one of the greatest masterpieces in European Rococo. Tiepolo’s depiction of the continents, rivers and passage of the sun is staggering and well worth the effort. Access must be arranged in advance (send an email to email@example.com). Once you arrive, report to the security office on the left inside the main archway.
Castello Sforzesco: The castello has two big courtyards. Visitors enter from the city side. The access into the antiquities section is on the right hand side of the entrance into the second courtyard, involving a couple of steps down. The gallery is mainly on the flat. The shop is fully accessible and don’t forget to put a contribution into the collection box for the Castello’s cats – they are pleasant and contented looking animals though not apparently overworked.
Museo Diocesano: Well worth a visit and probably one of the most under visited museums in the city. The ramped access is to a service gate on the right of the main entrance; the latter has steps serving it. Either use the call button by the service entrance or get your companion to go into the reception area and come round to collect you. Access inside the building is very good with a lift system and there are copious disabled WCs, also a small cafe.
San Maurizio Church(on Corso Magenta): Well worth a visit for the frescoes. There are seven external steps from the street and the effort pays dividends particularly if you can manage the additional three steps and pass through to the choir (located to the left and the rear of the building). The charming fresco of Noah’s ark at the back of the choir and on the left is worth the visit alone.
Il Cenacolo (Last Supper): Book this sight as far in advance as possible. There is one low step into the foyer but after that, it’s all accessible. There are WCs next to the shop at the back of the building.
Sant’Eustorgio: This is a brilliant collection of frescoes and a positive treasure house of early renaissance art. Access is via a very steep ramp in the left hand side of the front of the building overlooking piazza Sant’Eustorgio. Once inside it is all flat and an excellent experience.
Public transportation and wheelchairs:
The yellow underground line (one of the lines most frequently used by visitors, as it connects the Duomo with the central train station) is fully accessible (elevators are available at all stops); the underground rail link (AKA 'passante ferroviario', shown in blue on public transport maps) is also accessible; the other underground lines (red and green) are NOT wheelchair accessible though.
More modern trams (the green ones) are accessible and have a reserved space for wheelchairs (or prams) in the middle section; also most buses have the same facility.
All taxis will gladly accommodate a wheelchair, but it is advised to mention it if you call ahead to reserve a cab.