“You have to remember that for many many years, The Colosseum was like a very big quarry for Rome”, our guide, Alessio told us today on the “Rome In A Day Tour” run by “Real Rome Tours“. “When it was fully functional as an arena, the walls were painted, and there was rock, and bronze and marble everywhere. So that when it was no longer used in that way, they took rock and the bronze and the marble and used it in other buildings projects”, he went on to say. This was possible one of the greatest personal revelations for me on today’s tour. That, and the fact the modern Rome is built on top of Medieval Rome, which is built on top of Ancient Rome.
As we undertook today’s tour, it was fascinating to try to think about the “sense of place”. To think about where people lived in Rome, and how The Colosseum would have fitted into their lives. For me, it’s impossible to imagine a culture in which people were killed before people’s eyes as “sport”. And yet, the design of The Colosseum has so obviously inspired so many modern sports stadiums. We were also told people could “win” the meat from the animals killed at The Colosseum: an ancient “meat tray” (you might say).
The tour goes for about eight hours: starting at The Colosseum and ending at St Peter’s Church. Along the way, we also visited
…The Roman Forum, following the route of the “Sacred Way” – along which marched Rome’ successful generals and Emperors, while your guide explains the history and importance of your surroundings.
From here you will continue your journey with visits to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. You will also have the opportunity to see the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination!
After stopping for lunch in the most relaxing place in Rome, Piazza Navona, we will take you for a very short ride by taxi, from Piazza Navona to the Vatican, crossing the Tiber and viewing the Castel Sant Angelo along the way.
It was a warm day here in Rome (probably 36 degrees celcius), and on many occasions we stopped to fill our water bottles. “Mom, it’s free” I heard one young child say, and then asked his step-father why water wasn’t free in America. The step-father came up with some half-arsed excuse, though I didn’t hear the detail.
After lunch we spent a few hours at The Vatican Museum, followed by The Sistine Chapel, and then St Peters. All of these places were very crowded, which shouldn’t surprise since it’s pretty much the summer tourist peak. But if you can “block out” the crowds, and just think about the history and the art, you can survive. It was hard in the Sistine Chapel with almost all the floor space taken up, but if you look up and try to block out the crowds, you can enjoy a really sublime experience.
I enjoyed the tour very much. History fascinates me, and I found it a really amazing experience to walk around and try to imagine life in Rome from a few thousand years ago until now. And of course, being brought up a Catholic, there’s an additional level of “interest”. Our group, and every other group we saw (thousands of them) struggled with the heat, of course. And the tour, with its emphasis on history, archaeology and religion, was probably a little “too adult” for at least one of the children (he looked about seven or eight) on the tour.
Alessio was a very good guide. He was very knowledgeable, and very good on detail in particular. One of the best things about doing the tour was our ability to “skip the queue”. As soon as we arrived at the different places, we entered straight away, whereas there were often lengthy queues.
By the end I was pretty tired, and so I caught a taxi back to my hotel. “Has it been a warm summer?”, I asked the taxi driver. “Yes, it sure has been. We normally get this kind of weather in August, but we had it in July also”, he told me.