Let’s think about the ancient cities around the world and I am sure that Rome will be near the top of most people’s lists. Rome is packed full of history, heritage and a myriad of mystical hidden treasures that even to this day are still being uncovered by archaeologists. Undoubtedly this just enhances the overall beauty of this city, so visiting here for the first time was an absolute privilege and we were both really excited about exploring everything the Italian capital has to offer.
Ancient Rome comprises of so much more than just the stereotypical Colosseum that we all associate with Italy, and thanks to City Wonders they provide an awesome tour that takes you through a variety of these attractions.
Who are City Wonders?
City Wonders are an organization that offer guided tours around Italy, France and England. There are a lot of tour companies out there that offer similar services but what helps City Wonders set themselves apart is the quality of tour guides available, offering a myriad of knowledge to tourists which in turn provides a memorable experience worthy of the entrance fee.
City Wonders offer a variety of tours throughout Rome along with day trips outside of the capital to location such as Pompeii and Tuscany. Are you intrigued enough to learn more? Ok, let’s take a look at the particular tour we experienced with City Wonders.
Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum
Heading from the Hotel Caravaggio in the heart of Rome, we made the short walk to our meeting point just outside the Colosseum by the metro station. The first thing we noticed was just how organized City Wonders were. A number of tours started here and they had everyone assigned to a particular tour guide who introduced himself as Alessandro as we waited for the tour to begin promptly at 10AM.
The tour duration is 3 hours and costs only $61 for adults. The itinerary of the tour takes you around the Colosseum, over to the grounds of the Roman Forum before culminating at the summit of Palatine Hill. Due to the volume of tourists and tours, we were each given headsets that allowed Alessandro to speak directly to all of us without interference.
Is there anything more that can be said about the Colosseum that we probably don’t already know? Well, interestingly enough Alessandro provided us with a little bit of alarming information that I am sure we can all help with moving forward. Slowly but surely the Colosseum is falling apart, hence the reason why mass renovations have been ongoing for the last 2 years and are scheduled to last another 2 years (though Alessandro is probably accurate when he states it is more likely to be ongoing for nearer 20 years than 2!).
Rome authorities have approved the development of a third metro line that runs in close proximity to the Colosseum, and the underground work being carried out is causing parts of the Colosseum to crumble. Added to this an annual rock festival that takes place outside the Colosseum, and the vibrations caused by this again are having detrimental effects.
Ok enough of the negativity because the Colosseum truly is a magnificent spectacle, both from the outside and once you step inside this Roman amphitheater. The interesting aspect of the Colosseum is that it was built by Emperor Vespasian in A.D. 70 and was done purely for the Romans to congregate as a spot for celebrations. Locals would line up outside for tickets on the morning of scheduled events and of course these were handed out free of charge to emphasize the idea of a celebration.
As we entered the grounds of the Colosseum we immediately headed upstairs and on to the second floor overlooking the arena. Alessandro began to point out all of the key aspects and provide a detailed reminiscence of how the arena probably looked when thousands of Romans packed in to watch the daily games. Two entrances in the arena are visible – one where the well acclaimed Roman gladiators would enter, and the other where animals, challengers etc. would make their way on to center stage.
I am sure you are all thinking about Russell Crowe in the movie, Gladiator when it comes to the inside of the Colosseum. Much of Ridley Scott’s movie is accurate when it comes to the depiction of how gladiatorial events took place and even how female gladiators were present.
Alessandro guided us through a typical day of events when the Colosseum was open to the public. The morning event would usually be a gladiator versus a lion or other animal, and of course the gladiators would always come out on top. Gladiators were popular figures among the Roman locals so it was unheard of that they would lose to a lion. After lunch, the executions took place with various tortures and other events to amuse the crowds. The late afternoon and evening events were the main spectacle that everyone was waiting for – the battle of the gladiatorial combats!
The Roman Forum
Leaving the Colosseum, we passed in front of the Arch of Constantine and headed towards the grounds of the Roman Forum. This area is where all of the hustle and bustle of life in Ancient Rome took place, but you really have to allow your imagination to run wild as you imagine locals and Roman senators conducting daily routines.
Many of the ruins are near impossible to comprehend that they were once iconic buildings, but some of them are still structurally secure to provide a visual of life in Roman times. Walk along the path that was once the Sacred Way, all the way to the area where the Vestal Virgins were located.
The remains of the temple of Julius Caesar is a popular spot among tourists, with the iconic plaque outside indicating Caesar’s place. Excavations are still taking place even to this day as archaeologists work tirelessly in an attempt to discover more remains to help reveal more about the Ancient Roman history.
The architectural genius of the Romans is certainly apparent here and one thing that holds true that Alessandro told us is that it took a long time for us to develop technologies similar to the skills that were present in Roman times.
Have you heard about the battle between Romulus and Remus? The final part of this tour takes you to the summit of Palatine Hill where this took place and Romulus was victorious, hence founding the city that we now know as Rome!
The views from a platform located close to the Farnese Gardens are stunning as you look across the city of Rome and back down to the landmarks of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. You could literally spend hours here taking pictures, reminiscing and just relaxing among one of the finest spots in Rome for views across the city.
Exploring Ancient Rome provides a catalyst for tourists to see the hidden depths of this historic city. The Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill courtesy of City Wonders is a great way to walk around Ancient Rome.
We had an amazing experience and would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Rome and the surrounding area. We are already looking forward to experiencing other City Wonders tours in the near future.
You can check out all of our pictures from our walk around Ancient Rome here: Rome 2014.
Disclaimer – We would like to thank City Wonders for providing us with complimentary tickets for The Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.