Wheelchair Worries - Vasame Part III

I would like to make this blog a useful resource for travelling to Sorrento if you're in a wheelchair. You'll see from my diary that I did it completely the wrong way. I was lazy. I didn't research Sorrento at all. I just assumed wheelchair accessibility would be as important as it is in the majority of English establishments.

If you can learn from my mistakes and have an enjoyable holiday in Sorrento because of my advice then my mis-adventures were worth it.

I only came across one restaurant in my five days in Sorrento that ticked every accessibility box. Apart from the toilet not having a seat, but that is the case for 80% of Italy. Even if a fully accessible toilet with grab rails for you to hold onto is useless to you without a toilet you can sit on, then Vasame isn't for you.

Vasame is on the outskirts of town. We happened to notice a sign on the corner of the street the restaurant was on. It was quite a large sign and it was pointing down the street. Cafes and shops shaded by a portico were on the left hand side of a road that looped back on itself and came back in the same direction about a hundred feet away. More shops/cafes were shaded by another portico, again on the left side of the road. We walked under the shaded roof on a smooth marble like walkway and after a very short walk, we were outside Vasame. We weren't that far from our accommodation, but ol' Tommy here needed a tinkle. As I hadn't much luck finding a disabled toilet in Sorrento so far, I said to Dad "it would be great if it had a disabled loo". I said it more as rhetorical comment, never thinking for a moment this was anything but a reconnaissance mission for dinner later.

The manager said Vesame had a disabled toilet and the cynic in me thought "yea, of course you have." Earlier that day we had been to a restaurant to book a table for that evening that had said it was disabled friendly on their website. We parked outside and Dad went in to make the booking. There was nobody at reception but saw there were stairs up to the restaurant... in this accessible restaurant... Maybe there was a lift or another way upto the restaurant, we'd never know though as there was nobody in the restaurant either.

This was only my second day in Sorrento but I was already learning that disabled access had a completely different meaning here.

The whole of the front of Vasame slides open to either side so their was acres of room to move the wheelchair through. The floor was smooth from the outside walkway into the restaurant, there wasn't even a noticeable join in the floor where the glass front opened and closed.

There is a clear run through the restaurant with tables to the left and right of a walkway.

I ate at a restaurant called Da Gigino where the tables and chairs were packed so tightly, there was just enough room for a person to walk through. I had to interrupt people's meals so they would move so I could get through. We couldn't get the chair all the way through the restaurant so I had to walk the last few metres with the help of my brother to keep me upright.

Nine times out of ten a restaurant will have a disabled toilet but it will be behind a door that opens outwards, so I have to ask somebody if they can take me to the toilet. This is something that I still hate having to ask, I miss the days of going out for a drink and just going to the loo on my

own without having to ask somebody. It would be great if places had a sliding door... Like this place! There's not another door separating the toilet area from the restaurant area either. The toilet is mahoosive. There isn't a toilet seat which seems to be pretty standard in Sorrento but there is at least a grab rail. I'm still not sure how people who can't support there weight are supposed to manage, surely this sort of disability exists in Italy?

Just out of shot on the right is a full length mirror, so you haven't been forgotten if you are in a wheelchair and can't see into the mirror above the sink.

This place has been designed with disabled access in mind from the start.

They have two outside sitting areas as well. The first is directly outside the restaurant which is as accessible as the inside, which if you go in the summer like I did, you're going to want to take advantage of. Not because it's too hot within the restaurant - I had a meal inside and a meal outside and it was perfectly cool inside as well, the front of the restaurant is open so plenty of air gets in.
The second seating area is across the road. The road loops round so the exit is next to the entrance. The road is one way so the second seating area is on your right as you come in and on your right again as you're heading out. There is a lovely green area between the roads and  the road is about twenty metres from the seating area. I'm not sure this description is painting an accurate picture. It's not some seating in the middle of a roundabout, and there isn't lots of traffic as we are off the main road.

This second seating area isn't particularly accessible though, through no fault of Vasame. If you've read my diary you'll know that Sorrento doesn't have many drop curbs so I wouldn't recommend using this seating area if you're in a wheelchair.

Oh, and the pizza int 'alf bad either.

I highly recommend Vasame if you're disabled or not, but if you're disabled I would say it's a must. My experience of Sorrento would have been so much better if all bars and restaurants were like Vasame.


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