from The Daily Mail…..
Venice’s gondolas finally become accessible to wheelchair users with lift that can lower them into the boats
Published: 13:23 EST, 11 March 2016 | Updated: 06:42 EST, 14 March 2016
With its many arched bridges, Venice cannot claim to be among the world’s most wheelchair-friendly cities.
But a pair of gondoliers is challenging that image.
A new private-public project, dubbed Gondolas4All, on Friday unveiled the first access point for wheelchair users to board one of Venice’s storied black-lacquered gondolas.
A man sitting on a wheelchair is boarded on a gondola in Venice on March 11 as part of Gondolas4All’s initiative to provide wheelchair access for guests on the canals
Gondolier Alessandro Dalla Pieta said that over 20 years he had seen ‘people in wheelchairs dozens of times looking at us as if we were the last Coca Cola in the desert. It tugged at my heart.’
The service, from car-accessible Piazzale Roma, will begin in about six weeks.
Gondolas4All has created a special jetty, that uses an automatic wheelchair lift.
It has been designed so wheelchair users will be transported onto the gondola in a controlled way.
Over the next few weeks gondoliers will be trained in operating the lift so that wheelchair users can access the canals
Visitors can book a ride at the usual tariffs, set by the city, on the website.
Users are able to have flexibility over their journey, choosing their desired path of interest.
The wheelchair access service, from Piazzale Roma, will begin in about six weeks after gondoliers are trained in using the lift