Disabled accessibility and PRM

Gestione Navigazione Laghi with a fleet of about 100 vessels has been guaranteeing mobility 365 days a year within the territories of Lake Maggiore, Garda and Como for sixty years

Navigazione Laghi, with a view to promoting the welcome and mobility on board its fleet for travellers with disabilities and reduced mobility, has launched an ambitious project aimed at identifying all the solutions to offer them a comfortable and pleasant journey, while taking into account the inevitable structural and technical limitations of older ships. Over 18,000 passengers with disabilities travelled aboard the Navigazione Laghi boats in 2017 and this figure certainly represents a positive element that demonstrates the goodness of the path already started by the Lakes Management, but it can also be a further incentive to develop solutions to improve the quality of the provided services. 

As part of the provided regulations at European level by EU Regulation 1177/2010 and in particular, in mind of art. 14 Training and instructions, some training sessions have been started since the 2017 season, held by a non-profit association specialized in accessible tourism, for all the front office staff (onboard staff) as well as for the operators assigned to the external relations office.  During these courses, the staff was made aware of the various types of disabilities, trained on the attitude of approach to the disabled customer and possible useful assistance, also provided basic notions on the use of assistance equipment, with particular reference to the wheelchair.

To date, the majority of ships in the Lake Navigation fleet are easily accessible.

Boarding on board, always assisted by the Lake Navigation staff, is carried out using a gangway, with a minimum width of 80 cm with a non-slip surface and with a variable slope according to the hydrometric level of the lake.

The most recent ships are widely usable and equipped with adequate ancillary services (toilets, lifts); for the older ones, appropriate studies are already underway as well as the implementation of measures and solutions useful to guarantee a better travel experience for wheelchair passengers.

Furthermore, to facilitate the embarkation of wheelchairs – possibly even autonomously by the disabled traveler who so wishes – ships and the main ports of call have already been equipped with special stepless ramps since 2016, i.e. easy to handle and light ramps which make it possible to eliminate the step between the jetty and the walkway.

Since the 2018 season, special useful symbols have been progressively inserted on the timetable boards and on the pocket formats of the timetables in order to identify the recommended journeys as they are the most suitable for transporting travelers in wheelchairs and to facilitate their advance organization of the journey, it being understood that, due to safety issues, boarding could in any case be limited or excluded at the Captain’s discretion.

After boarding, the wheelchair traveler who decides to sit on one of the ship’s seats must make sure to position it, closed (if possible) and braked, in a place that does not hinder the crew and other passengers.

Since spring 2018, special stickers and seat covers have also been posted and installed on board through which courtesy “priority seats” have been provided for travelers with reduced mobility.

Lastly, as part of the project linked to the public tender GR 04/16, Navigazione Laghi will take due consideration of the possibility of installing special information panels with variable messages for hearing-impaired or deaf passengers.

For visually impaired and blind passengers, the audio system is available on board some ships to indicate the next stop of the ship’s arrival.

Blind passenger can always bring their dog with them free of charge.

All passengers, in case of need, may request assistance from the crew, who will be available, within the limits of their functions and without jeopardizing the performance of the tasks entrusted to them for the safety of navigation; assistance for the use of the toilets can be guaranteed limited to the accompaniment to the entrance door.

Without prejudice to what has been described above in relation to admission to transport in terms of accessibility of the fleet, the usability of the ship’s services and any restrictions on embarkation that each Captain, in his opinion, could arrange to guarantee the safety of the traveler (eg. rough lake….), the Navigazione Laghi has provided special concessions, to be issued upon presentation of suitable documentation certifying the requirements, dedicated to disabled travelers falling within the following categories:

  • Civil and work invalids from 70 to 100%, including the blind and deaf;
  • People with disabilities with serious connotations (from 70%)

The concessions consist of:

  • ELIMINATION OF THE RIGHT TO COLLECT if the ticket is issued on board
  • REDUCED RATE APPLICATION n° 1.50 for single journey tickets, n° 3.50 for free circulation (for Lake Maggiore only: n° 2.50 for single journey tickets with intermediate stops, n. 101, n. 102, n.551 and No. 552 for international routes) to disabled people over the age of 12*. Minors up to the age of 12*, duly accompanied, can travel for free.

The above concessions apply to tickets for ordinary scheduled journeys; to use the express service each traveller, with the exception of the companion of a disabled child under the age of 12*, is required to pay the relative supplement at the full rate.

*For departures from Switzerland the age is raised to 16 years.

Taking into account the morphological conformation of the territories in which the Navigation carries out its service, not all wharfs are easily accessible to disabled or PRM passengers (e.g. Villa Carlotta, Blevio, Pognana, Santa Caterina….); in order therefore to provide a useful information tool for the organization of travel by wheelchair and PRM passengers, Navigazione Laghi is proceeding with a homogeneous survey of the accessibility of the wharfs, which will be reorganized schematically and published in this section as soon as available.

However, the boarding procedures are always carried out with the assistance of the Lake Navigation staff, and are carried out using a gangway, with a minimum width of 80 cm with a non-slip surface and with a variable slope according to the level of the lake.

Furthermore, as part of the project linked to the public tender GR 04/16 for monitoring and localization of the fleet, the installation, at least at the main wharfs, of information panels with variable messages has already been planned, also useful  to hearing-impaired or deaf passengers.

As part of the INTERREG V-A Italy-Switzerland 2014-2020 Cooperation Program, the Italian Lake Navigation Government Management attended the SMISTO project (Development of Integrated and Sustainable Mobility between Ticino and Lombardy), which aims to increase the use of transport public thanks to better accessibility, integration and quality of services.

Specifically, the Government Management has provided, on its own behalf and through the financial resources made available by the project:

  • to install tactile routes and maps at some wharfs of Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, in order to facilitate the orientation and mobility of blind and visually impaired people who use the aforementioned structures;
  • to train the staff in contact with the public (in particular on-board and ground staff) with the aim of improving the assistance of passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility;
  • to purchase wheelchairs to be available to the travelers if their aid is damaged or broken down, in order to allow the journey to be continued up to the disembarkation location.

The Italian lead partner of the project is the Lombardy Region and the Italian Partners are the Italian Government Management of Navigazione Laghi and the Public Transport Agency of the Como, Lecco and Varese basin.

The Swiss lead partner is the Canton of Ticino and the Swiss partners are the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano and the Regional Transport Commission of Mendrisiotto and Basso Ceresio.

The total cost of the project for the Italian part amounts to €.1,689,667.24; the public contribution is equal to € 1,689,667.24 of which € 1,436,217.15 (equal to 85%) from the FERS and € 253,450.09 (equal to 15%) from the Revolving Fund ex law n.183/1987. The cost of the project for the Swiss part amounts to 994,952.00 CHF.

The approved budget for Government Management amounts to €214,811.64. On the basis of the expenses reported and validated during the audit, this Management has obtained a refund of €.214.345,78.

Below are the links of the INTERREG V-A Italy-Switzerland 2014-2020 Cooperation Program and of the SMISTO project.



As part of the continuous process of improving the service that is offered to its passengers, Navigazione Laghi launched the Bandiera Lilla Approved Project in spring 2023 which, in its phase 1, involved Lake Maggiore.

The Bandiera Lilla Association, already engaged in many municipal realities to support initiatives that encourage tourism by people with disabilities, has carried out a careful evaluation process on the level of accessibility of 8 of the main piers (Arona, Stresa, Baveno Comune Lilla, Pallanza, Villa Taranto, Intra, Laveno and Luino) and of 11 boats, starting from the more modern ones, already designed according to current regulations for comfortable usability by passengers with reduced mobility, to those built previously when sensitivity towards this segment of travelers was not yet so widespread.

The results of the study that has been carried out and which can be consulted at this link, have allowed the issue of the “Bandiera Lilla Approved” certificate, i.e. the recognition, obtained for the first time by a public transport reality, related to the accessibility of the piers or of the boats.

For more detailed information and advice on the most suitable ships, please contact each Operations Management on the toll-free number 800/551801 or:

Lake Maggiore


Lake di Garda


Lake di Como


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