Accessible travel in Italy, and particularly in the south, may not be easy. But with some pre-planning the accessibility challenges presented by Puglia’s medieval old towns with their cobblestone streets and passageways and narrow pavements can be managed.
Using public transport
Using public transport in Puglia, irrespective of mobility issues, can be cumbersome.
Travelling between Bari and Lecce and along the coast (Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Molfetta, Bisceglie, Trani) is straightforward. But travelling from those destinations inland or between towns and cities elsewhere is a different experience altogether.
For example travelling from Ostuni to Alberobello, two of the Valle d’Itria’s most popular destinations 35km apart by road takes around 45 minutes by car. Switching to public transport means a journey of between 1h40minutes and 3h45minutes, involving multiple changes by bus, foot and train.
Lecce to Otranto in the Salento will take just under 40 minutes in normal traffic by car. By public transport the journey time increases to between 1h25m and 2h40m, with 2 changes.
For information on using public transport in Puglia see our page with useful links for travel connections and public transport in Puglia.
TOP TIP: download the official Trenitalia App (free registration required) or the popular Trenìt! App for timetables, routes and connections, real time travel info and the ability to buy tickets. We recommend using the official Trenitalia App to buy tickets, but for quicker info without the registration on timetables and schedules we use the Trenìt App.
Accessible travel using public transport
- Your airline will be able to organise assistance at Bari’s International Airport-Karol Wojtyla and Brindisi’s Salento Airport if you notify them of your needs in advance (usually at least 48 hours in advance).
- For accessibility services at Bari airport click here and at Brindisi airport, click here.
- Travelling by train you can request assistance from Rete Ferroviaria Italiana in advance of your journey. See below for fuller details.
- Some buses in are wheelchair-accessible although some of the stops may not be. Enquire before you board.
- Some taxis are equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs. Request a taxi for a sedia a rotelle (wheelchair).
Travelling by train
RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) are the station managers across the Italian rail network. They provide services 24 hours a day to people with reduced mobility at certain stations across Italy. These are operated through the Sale Blu service. In Puglia the Sale Blu office is located at Bari’s main central station. You must request assistance in advance of travelling.
As of January 2020 the stations in Puglia where you can find Sale Blu assistance on request (made in advance) for people with reduced mobility (PRM) access are:
Bari Santo Spirito
Bari Torre a Mare
Mola di Bari
Popular destinations where no PRM help is available include: Polignano a Mare, Ostuni and Alberobello*.
Assistance must be requested in advance either by email, by phone or in person at the Sale Blu office. The only Sala Bluin Puglia is located at Bari’s central station:
Sala Blu di BARI:
Stazione Bari Centrale, Piazza Aldo Moro, 1
opening hours: 6.45-21.30 (Mon-Sun)
Detailed information in English on how to request assistance - including how much advance notice is needed to arrange this and the information needed to do so - eg desired travel dates and times - and other methods of making contact can be found on the RFI information page.
You will need to know the stations for departure, arrival and any interchange/connection - and they must be one of those listed above, as well as the date and desired time of travel.
Assistance can be requested in person at the Sala Blu in Bari but not at other stations; where assistance is needed at stations other than Bari at least 12 hours advance notice is needs to be arranged at the Sala Blu di Bari or by using the phone or email service provided (see the RFI information page for details).
- If you are driving, EU disabled parking permits are recognised in Italy, giving you the same parking rights that local drivers with disabilities have.
*Ferrovie Del Sud Est (FSE) operate train and bus services to Alberobello and provide the services at that station. FSE do not include Alberobello on their list of stations where you can request staff to assist with access to the waiting room and the platforms. Their website does confirm that the station is equipped to allow autonomous access for users with “impaired mobility” to the platform (i.e. wheelchair accessible) and that disabled toilets are available, as also tactile access and maps for the visually impaired.