AD - Kindly gifted a space on a the Colosseum Underground & Ancient Rome Tour with LivItaly Tours in exchange for social shares and this blog post. All opinions and photos my own.
After visiting The Vatican, St Peter's Basilica & The Sistine Chapel with Dark Rome Tours, we also had another tour booked to visit the Colosseum, with LivItaly Tours.
This is what is so great about booking tours, you can tick off a lot of the main tourist sights really quickly and easily, leaving you with more time to really get under the skin of the place you're visiting.
Another good thing about booking in with a tour is that you can usually get access to places which might otherwise be off limits to the general public or those on other tours. With this LivItaly tour, we got access to the underground area as well as the arena floor where all the gladiators would have appeared from.
It was so amazing to see this in real life, I've seen it everywhere on TV and social media but I never really thought I'd get the opportunity to visit it myself. Seeing it was everything I hoped it would be and so much more, to think that it's been around for centuries is almost unfathomable.
Rome has been on my bucket list almost as long as I've known what one was! To be honest, even though I knew we were going, I actually didn't get excited about it because I truly couldn't believe we were actually going!
One our way from the airport we actually caught a glimpse of the Colosseum and that was when I finally realised we were in Rome and I'd actually be seeing it with my own eyes! It's just so full of history that I knew a tour guide would be the way to go for it and I was so pleased I'd been able to sort this out for my family.
One thing I do have to say here is that when we arrived at the agreed meeting point, we actually found out we were waiting in the wrong place! We'd walked to the Colosseum so came to the SOS sign at the top instead of actually needing to head into the metro station, walk down the stairs and then wait there instead! Thankfully our guide Maria came up to check if we were there (after I'd had a text from LivItaly to check where I was!) as this happens quite often so it's definitely something to bear in mind if you're thinking of doing this tour too!
Once we'd managed to find each other we were ready to start the tour! I was really excited to get going and start to understand what the Colosseum was all about. There weren't that many people around as it was still fairly early, this meant that along with being one of two groups able to view the underground area, but that when we came up into the arena, it almost completely empty! It was amazing to view the underground area and see where the slaves lived, worked and died. We got to see a modern day version of a Roman lift which was used to transport the gladiators from the basement to the arena floor. There were about 60 of these all over the arena floor and none of the spectators knew whereabouts they would be appearing from so it was always a surprise!
It was incredibly dark down there and when we all stepped onto the LED lights in the floor, we could see just how dark! It gave us a glimpse into what it must have been like for the slaves, gladiators and animals to have been living underneath the Colosseum.
There was evidence of all the pillaging which had been done by the Popes to melt down the bronze for weapons and the marble for the Vatican. It's all over the Colosseum and actually makes me laugh because how is it still standing when almost all of the bronze stabilising pieces within the stone were stolen!
When we came up from the underground area, we walked through this passage into the arena itself which was amazing. It would have been the entrance the gladiators would have come in through when they were fighting.
To come in through here and walk into the main Colosseum was like nothing else I've experienced previously. I've seen photos of The Colosseum and in travel programmes on the TV but there's nothing quite like seeing it with your own eyes and walking onto the arena floor.
The white areas here represent seating in the Colosseum of old and it's the only bit of marble which wasn't pillaged by the Popes! They were reserved for the important people in Rome and they had their names written on them not dissimilar to the season ticket seating of today!
We then headed on up to the next floor and Maria walked us around to get the best view of the arena floor itself. By this time there were more tourists in the Colosseum itself which goes to show how popular it is.
The arena itself is actually elliptical and not round as most people think! Of course it's always easier to see these things from on high. To think that at any one time there would have been 24 gladiators fighting there in pairs with a referee is quite amazing!
Contrary to what most people believed and I know I certainly did before having this tour (which is yet another reason to book with LivItaly Tours!), most of the time this was all being put on for entertainment and the gladiators didn't always fight to the death!
Going to the Colosseum was free for the people of Rome and this was to appease them because of the high taxes which were levid upon them! It was all entertainment and it was only on high days and holidays where there would have been fights to the death; this was all because it took 3 years to train a boy to become a gladiator.
They were expensive to train (and there was actually a gladiator school at the Colosseum) so the emperors wouldn't want to waste money by letting their best fighters die every week!
Palentine Hill & The Roman Forum
After viewing the Colosseum we walked up to Palentine Hill along an original Roman road, it was surprising to see that it was still intact enough for us to walk along it. Not so far up the hill we came across the Arc Di Tito - an arch which was built by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titu's official deification and the victory over the Jewish rebellion in Judaea.
The underneath of the arch was beautifully decorated and it actually shows the oldest depiction of a Jewish Menorah.
The views as we were going up the hill just got better and better, Rome in itself is just beautiful and of course has loads of 'old bits' to view from just about everywhere you go! To catch a glimpse of the so called 'Wedding Cake' building (The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument) which is a monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel II who was the first king of a unified Italy.
We walked up the hill and Maria took us to what she described as the best viewing point of the Roman Forum, as she said, trust your tour guide! It was well worth the wait because you could see absolutely everything and even get a photo of you with the Colosseum in the background!
Maria did well here as you can see because this view was incredible! You could see so much and get a fabulous overview of the Roman Forum which was great if you wanted to stay longer after the tour finished and explore more of it yourself. There's certainly plenty of it!
Maria actually had an iPad with her which she used to show us photos of how everything used to look which helped us to imagine ourselves of how buildings or the Forum used to be. Even from ruins it can be hard to sometimes imagine how everything was once upon a time.
My Overall Review
I think it's safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Maria and LivItaly Tours visiting the Colosseum, Palentine Hill & the Roman Forum. I found all it incredibly fascinating, learning about the Romans, how they lived, worked and were entertained.
Rome is an amazing city, full of centuries of history and ruins around every corner. To have it all brought to life so well with an extremely knowledgeable tour guide, is like nothing else. There's always something new to learn and I'll always be the first to turn to someone with local knowledge to educate me about their hometown or city.
You never know what you might discover!
Love, Sarah xoxoxo