Swimming fun in the mountains
Vacation in the mountains - for many a long-awaited highlight and a great holiday. Quickly googled on the net and searched for suitable places, excursions and accommodations. From all the beautiful pictures then completely convinced it goes off in the direction of the mountains.
The South Tyrolean mountains are also a favourite destination - not only because of the great landscape, but above all because of the great weather. After all, South Tyrol advertises with an average of 300 sunny days a year. We can't say whether that's really true, but we can confirm that it really is very sunny in South Tyrol. And hot.
"Hot" is also the key word here. Of course, you go to the mountains mainly to go hiking (as far as you have the possibilities to do so yourself). But who wants to climb a mountain peak at 35 degrees in the shade - especially if you are not an experienced hiker?
Okay, on the mountain it is of course not so hot - that's logical. But the way up can be, especially if it no longer goes through the shady forest, very strenuous for the body. And depending on age, fitness level and co. you might think twice about the climb.
Quickly, we look around for other activities. By the way, we would do the same. Fortunately, we have a great swimming opportunity right on our doorstep with the Völser Weiher and can enjoy the particularly hot days there.
So while we were able to endure the high temperatures at the pond, we also had to keep thinking about what visitors to South Tyrol do who have limited mobility (like us) and don't want to hike or go into town at 35 degrees in the shade.
This was the impetus to take a closer look at the bathing possibilities in South Tyrol and their accessibility.
in South Tyrol
A quick search on the internet reveals: South Tyrol has a lot of bathing fun to offer for young and old. From natural ponds (what is a pond?) and swimming ponds, from outdoor pools to thermal baths - it's all there. A truly extensive, varied and above all - as far as the near-natural bathing lakes are concerned - a swimming experience with a breathtaking panorama.
In order to give our readers a small overview, here are only the best known bathing possibilities:
So there is always something for the described temperatures of 35 degrees as well as for rainy days. Of course, this pleases the water rats.
But what interested us now:
What about barrier-free bathing fun?
in South Tyrol
Well, not so good. At least as far as most natural lakes/ponds and most swimming pools/outdoor pools are concerned.
The beginning has already been made in many places. At most bathing facilities you will find disabled parking spaces and barrier-free toilets. Nothing stands in the way of stress-free parking and you no longer have to worry about going to the toilet. But "going for a swim" is all about swimming. As a wheelchair user, I want to enjoy it just as much as all the other guests.
Did you know that 67 % of people in the U.S. believe that an incredible amount has already been done for accessibility and that almost all facilities - whether public transportation, restaurants or government offices - are now considered accessible? Ask someone with limited mobility! (Just by the way)
So how does someone get into the pool who can't move their legs, for example?
In outdoor pools and spas or indoor pools, this should still be relatively easy to implement. In the meantime, there are various possibilities. One of them would be a lift. This has a seat option, which can then be turned and lowered in the direction of the water. It is even nicer if a ramp is installed - preferably at the same time as the stairs for the "normal" visitors are built. Then add a wheelchair that is suitable for water and even people with limited mobility can use this wheelchair to travel quite comfortably over the ramp towards the bathing experience. For lakes with a beach or similarly shallow access to the water, swimming or beach wheelchairs would also be ideal.
Okay, enough "puking out" - let's now take a look at the bathing possibilities in South Tyrol.
Indoor - Therme
Barrier-free bathing facilities in South Tyrol
For rainy days in South Tyrol - which are really rare - the Merano thermal baths offer an indoor swimming option. Here you can actually speak of accessibility.
Located in the spa town of Merano, the Therme offers its guests a thermal landscape with numerous pools, saunas and steam baths. The indoor area, open 365 days a year, is often well attended. The outdoor area, i.e. the outdoor pool of Terme Merano, is only open in summer and is part of the theme park, a part of which is reserved for spa visitors only, while the outdoor pool, for example, can also be entered separately. However, the impressive facility has even more to offer: a sauna area, a modernly equipped fitness centre, an innovative Medical Spa & Vital Centre and a cosy bistro.
Okay, now what about accessibility?
The Therme has 13 parking spaces for people with disabilities in the underground car park. From there you can easily reach the so-called Thermmenplatz by lift and from there you can reach the entrance hall at ground level. The entire complex is easily accessible, with modern lifts providing access to all floors and spa areas. The indoor and outdoor swimming areas each have a pool with an entry aid (lift) as well as further pools with a raised pool edge. The sauna oasis on the first floor is also accessible and usable, only the snow room is only accessible with assistance due to lack of space. In addition, the Roof Whirlpool in the outdoor sauna area is only accessible via steps. The Medical Spa & Vital Center, the Fitness Center and the Bistro are barrier-free accessible.
There are 4 changing rooms, a barrier-free WC with shower wheelchair and an open shower for people with disabilities in the blue changing area.
Guests with disabilities receive a discount of 30 % upon presentation of their disability card. The discount is also granted to an accompanying person, provided that he or she can present a declaration of need.
Further information is available directly from Merano Thermal Baths.
We think that we already have a great indoor swimming opportunity in South Tyrol. For rainy days, this is definitely a great option. Unfortunately, the way to Merano is for one or the other - depending on the holiday or place of residence - relatively far and so quite cheap the spa is not despite 30 % reduction. But - it is a beginning and we would be very happy if other indoor swimming pools would follow this example. It doesn't have to be on such a grand scale as with Therme Meran - small steps are also valuable.
Outdoor - Outdoor pool
Barrier-free bathing facilities in South Tyrol
For the hot summer days, there are unfortunately only a few options for barrier-free bathing fun.
For example in the Bolzano Lido (outdoor swimming pool). The Lido of Bolzano has a large paid parking lot, which is located directly at the Drusus Stadium. There are also four disabled parking spaces here. Passing the ticket office area of the Lido, you reach the turnstiles, which have a barrier-free passage for visitors with reduced mobility or pushchairs. Just behind them are two barrier-free changing rooms. Near the lockers, just behind the cubicles, you will find the showers, one of which is equipped with grab bars and a shower seat. There are barrier-free toilets near the Olympic pool and directly at the ticket office. The path to the Olympic pool, the largest pool in the Lido, has a slight incline and is somewhat narrow. There is a hydraulic seat for the pool. The other pools are only accessible via steps, for example the massage pool.
The elevator at the ticket office leads to the terrace and the restaurant Pizzeria Lido.
Another possibility is the Outdoor pool Sportwell Malls, which also has a boarding aid into the main pool.
For those who do not necessarily want to go swimming, but who may just want to accompany friends and family, the Acquarena in Bressanone and the Lido at the Great Montiggler Lake is another possibility.
For those who don't necessarily want to watch their friends go swimming in an outdoor pool in the city, but want to have a great landscape around them, the Lido Montiggler See is recommended. The facility itself is barrier-free accessible, as well as barrier-free toilets are available. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to go swimming by means of a boarding aid.
But maybe four strong arms can be found to lift you into the pool - you never know.
Natural bathing fun
in South Tyrol
Natural barrier-free bathing fun is rather meagre.
We are very disappointed by the possibilities at the lakes close to nature. Thus, both the Kalterer See - despite development by various hotels & outdoor pools - as well as other lakes such as the Vahrner See or the Issinger Weiher are not accessible.
Of course, these are near-natural (i.e. built by humans, but designed as close to nature as possible) and natural lakes (Kalterer See) and the argument may come up at this point that you simply can't expect too much. After all, it is not an outdoor or indoor swimming pool where accessibility could be integrated into the concept from the very beginning.
Nevertheless, all these ponds and lakes have been developed for people without disabilities and offer various recreational activities - from swimming, stand-up paddling to pedal boating and much more. It should at least be possible to provide access to the water for people with limited mobility - it doesn't have to be a high-end device costing thousands of euros, sometimes a little something is enough to offer barrier-free bathing fun.
But: there is improvement in sight. The Völser Weiher - our favourite swimming spot - is now to receive a hydraulically operated entry aid, just like the Therme Meran, the Bozner Lido and the Sportwell Malls outdoor pool. We will watch this with interest and report back.
They do exist. Even if at first glance it looks as if barrier-free bathing fun in South Tyrol is not going to happen - if you do some research and ask questions here and there, you will find one or the other outdoor or indoor pool in South Tyrol that also offers bathing fun to guests with limited mobility.
There is a great need to catch up on the natural bathing lakes - but we are not giving up hope and are continuing - together with other parties in South Tyrol - to campaign for barrier-free bathing fun, among other things.
It would be our wish if barrier-free bathing fun were possible at the Kalterer See, the Völser Weiher, the Vahrner See and the Montiggler See (i.e. the best-known and largest natural lakes in South Tyrol).