It is one of those iconic travel locations that you can’t stop thinking about – just like Machu Picchu. It is when you know you have reached “that” point in your life when you can finally cross off another big one off your list.
I never thought I would experience the Colosseum with a tour group. I mean, normally we avoid them like the plague, making catty comments about the plethora of fanny packs, blue hair, and sparkly shirts. Enter Walks of Italy – the brand that single handedly changed my outlook on the concept of the tour altogether.
Our guide Vincente rocked our faces off. He was incredibly knowledgable, made us giggle, and opened our eyes to the real history of Rome and the Colosseum. With a maximum of 10-12 people per group, I felt like I was part of the discussion rather being preached at. This was an experience that really made me reconsider heading back to school for that elusive archaeology or anthropology degree. I’m fascinated.
The tour starts out with a brief history of the Arch of Constantine. This baby can be found in Renaissance art and represents the triumph of the Christians over the pagans. The really cool thing is that quite a few artists included this piece of architecture in many of their renderings of religious stories from the Bible – you know – to really drive it home. After seeing it, I really started to notice the prevalence of it.
Vincente took us over to the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill to give us a great history of the before and after regarding the Colosseum. It is really crazy to be walking on so many dynasties of Roman history. Like, literally, there are hundreds of years that were built on top of each other. With every new emperor came new construction on the palaces and old rooms were buried. They are still uncovering new things every day!
But nothing could compare to the epicness that came along with being part of the Colosseum VIP tour that took you into closed off areas of the Colosseum.
As we descended onto the floor of the arena, Vincente stopped us. Not only did we have an amazing view that so many gladiators had centuries before, but he put his finger up to his lips to quiet us down.
Out of a small iPhone speaker came the smallest of noise in the biggest of arenas….
The Gladiator movie song.
With a wink and a smile, Vincente marched us forward onto the arena floor.
It was like a dream come true. As I stared into the massiveness that is the Colosseum, I couldn’t believe I was where I was – the most coveted spot in the entire place.
People gawked, pointed, whispered, and were green with envy. Shaun and I were sitting there with the goofiest of grins.
Oh yeah, this is why we do this.
There are no words for how amazing the view is. Really. You just have to take a peek at the picture because I just have… nothing.
We descended even further – this time into the damp, dark, moist underbelly of the Colosseum. We passed by old elevator chutes (that were manually cranked by slave labor), dark hallways with little to no light, and even to where the lions and tigers were kept before heading to the arena floor. So many slaves lived out their lives here. My mind nearly exploded from thinking about how much history – how many different stories – occurred in a single space.
We also had access to the highest tier – the third floor. There are only a handful of companies is Rome that even have the clearance these guys have and they were pulling out all the stops. We slowly climbed to the third floor on the craziest and steepest stairs I had been on in some time. They almost rival some of the stairs found at Teotihuacan in Mexico. Slow and steady. Make sure you don’t look down.
With the self proclaimed best view in Rome, I can’t really argue with them.
We just sat back, smiled, and enjoyed the view. Walks of Italy really hit a homerun on this one – I can’t look at tours the same again. When you have people who actually enjoy their line of work it makes all the difference.
Italy was shaping up to be an amazing experience and I couldn’t wait to see what was next.
Disclosure: We were guests of Walks of Italy but all opinions are our own. But seriously, these guys are AH.MA.ZING!