Back to Rome

Just like Paris we returned to Rome for one main reason. On our last trip we missed seeing the Colosseum because of a public holiday.

Which leads to my next points…

Handy travel tips

HANDY TIP: check public holiday dates for the locations you are traveling to. Small shops/deli’s may be open but tourist attractions tend to shut. An interesting side story, we got stuck in Monte Carlo in 2008 over a public holiday long weekend because the trains stopped running – we literally couldn’t get out. And it’s one of the most expensive places on earth to get stuck. So we maxed out our credit card, went to casino, drove around the formula 1 race track (it was just before the filming of Iron Man 2).

Back to Rome, we booked the next available tour for the Colosseum and rocked up at the meeting place nice and early.

HANDY TIP: if you have particular tourist attractions in mind we’d recommend booking a tour before you arrive if you can. There are heaps of ‘skip the line’ tours available and if you have limited time then it’s a good idea to book early.

We put in some research before our tour, we watched ‘Gladiator’ with Russell Crowe 🙂 

From Steve’s perspective

The Rome Colosseum is amazing, holding 65,000 people and Rome only had a population of 250,000 people at the time.
There are so many levels to the original structure from the canopied upper seating levels to the main stage and below to the “back stage” area.
Interestingly it took the Romans invading Israel and looting King Solomon’s palace to have enough money to build the thing.

Tour guide tales

The whole reason it was built was to keep ‘the people’ entertained and happy with the ruling elite. It was like a modern day political public relations machine.
In the movies, Hollywood’s creative license glamorised the gladiator story – combining facts to create the ficton.

Colosseum games – morning show

Our guide shared about the three main types of games that took place over the whole day.
In the morning there were the animal fights i.e. lions v’s tigers v’s elephants. Animal blood sports. The animals that were killed were then barbecued and sold to the crowd as offerings to the Gods. Everyone wanted to eat a piece to be part of the sacrifice.

Colosseum games – after-lunch show

After lunch there were the public punishments and executions. For example, anyone caught having sex with a Vestal Virgins, those women who looked after the sacrificial fires of ancient Rome that was said to be the ‘soul of Rome’, were punished during this session. Of course thieves and wrong-doers were included in this time slot.

Colosseum games – main attraction

The main attraction started about 4pm in the afternoon – the Gladiators. The gladiators were held in high esteem like modern-day sports heroes. They fought in the Colosseum arena against set opponents wielding specific weapons and were watched/judged closely by an umpire. The fighting was rarely to the death and if it was then a lot of money passed hands because Gladiators were expensive to train and a valuable asset to their owners/managers.

We loved the stories told by our guide, Vincenzo. It’s an amazing place even down to the practical issues like how attendees had to stay all day, eat, drink and go to the toilet in the venue.

The tour was definitely a highlight of our adventures in Rome.