Ciao Andrea! Tell us about yourself and your mission.
I’m 20 years old, have limited lower body abilities, lots of curiosity and joie de vivre. I’m in my second year in Humanistic Studies in Communication at the University of Florence. A born Florentine, I love my city. That’s why, since 2012, I’ve been working to raise awareness of the need to bring down architectural barriers, which are very prevalent throughout our area.
In 2016 I started a blog, Contro Ogni Barriera – Firenze Accessibile, which I use along with Facebook and Twitter to promote my #Mollaloscivolo project (translating roughly to “leave the ramp unobstructed”).
I also want to help people who, due to ignorance or indifference, have never had the chance to understand how these barriers are created and how little effort it actually takes to keep them from ever going up.
Week to week, I update my blog with national and international news on accessibility and human rights.
What are the main accessibility-related challenges in Florence, and what are the city’s strong points?
Moving around Florence on my electric wheelchair, I frequently have to riskily navigate long stretches on roads themselves rather than on sidewalks, due to absent or blocked ramps.
There are also lots of businesses that I can’t enter in a wheelchair (when there are steps at the entrance and no ramp, for example). Along with these physical barriers, there are avoidable complications that we create ourselves: uncivilized parking situations, bicycles left in the middle of the sidewalk, and so forth.
I must say, though, that in recent years in Florence, there’s been a general change of mentality in institutions regarding accessibility, and I do notice the efforts being made and the push to respect differences. In contrast with the shortsighted visions of the past, our administrators are paying attention to the issues of accessibility and sustainability and working to plan and execute new works and public services, but it’s just the beginning.
What’s your vision for Florence in 5 or 10 years?
I hope that five to 10 years from now we’ll manage to make Florence a friendlier, more sustainable, and accessible space, more attentive to the needs of those who live here. I hope that there will be more and more educational projects geared toward respecting one’s environment; starting in the schools, I hope these will help create a more open culture, one that’s attentive to the “next person.”
I want to believe that within a few years Florence will have new infrastructures resulting from accessibility-centered technical projects, and that these will be viewed not as gifts or concessions, but as necessary, legal conditions of societal development.
Our city in 2018, the “European Year of Cultural Heritage,” has set itself apart by participating in the drafting of goals that will go on to be part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This gives us hope for the future. My own commitment to the cause is geared in the same direction: it’s not limited to Florence.
For further help in the accessible travel arena, we can set you up with transfers and excursions, custom tours and guided visits, lodging recommendations, and more.