Rome, Italy. The land of pizza, pasta and gelato. Where there’s a historical landmark on every corner and a hundred men selling selfie sticks in front of each one. I had three days in Rome to finish off my whirlwind UK trip.
Obviously the must see attraction in Rome is the Colosseum. If you’re planning to visit, there’s only one way to do it. Go underground.
The Underground Tour is offered by the Colosseum itself, and there are English speaking guided tours every hour or so. You must book ahead, you are very unlikely to be able to get tickets on the day. It’s really easy to do online on the Coopculture website. You need to purchase both a Colosseum entrance ticket and an Underground Guided Tour ticket – this should come to around 25 euro.
Our tour was in the morning, and when we arrived the Colosseum was already buzzing with activity. There were the aforementioned selfie stick salesmen, as well as hundreds of tourists, guides offering tours, and a long line of people waiting to get inside the Colosseum. However as we had pre-purchased our tickets we bypassed the line and went straight inside to wait for our tour.
The tour group was a mix of tourists from around the world, and our tour guide was a historian with great English, as well as a sense of humour! However I think my mum and I were the only ones laughing at her Russell Crowe/Gladiator jokes. Our guide explained a lot about the history of the Colosseum to us as she showed us around some of the hidden areas of the famous amphitheatre.
First of all we went onto the “floor” of the Colosseum. If you just buy a regular entrance ticket to the Colosseum you can only walk around the edges. The floor is actually a reconstruction, but it allows you to stand in the centre of the arena and look up at what remains of the walls and seats. Plus all the regular ticket holders will be looking at you wondering how on earth you got there.
Next we went downstairs to the “underground” part of the Colosseum. If you’re standing around the edges of the Colosseum you can see into this, but there’s no way for you to reach it. This is a series of tunnels and cells where gladiators and animals were kept before fights. There was a vast network of walkways under the Colosseum, and the guide explained how they were used.
Then we went right up to the third ring of the Colosseum past some locked gates, and emerged at a viewing platform on top. This gave us an incredible view out over the whole Colosseum as well as the Roman Forum. Again, you can only see this on this tour.
While in Rome we also went on an early morning tour of the Vatican where we were literally the first people into the Sistine Chapel. It was quite incredible, but a lot pricier than the Colosseum tour.
We stayed in an amazing historical apartment that featured a lift with doors you had to close yourself, similar to the Lizzie McGuire movie (my main reference point for all Rome adventures). I ate pizza or pasta for every meal, but as Rome is a great city for walking I think I earned it. We checked out the usual sights like the Spanish Stephs, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, all of which were much emptier than usual because it was January. This was my second trip to Rome, and it won’t be my last.