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Sightseeing facts & tips for visiting the Rome Colosseum

rome confidential: things to do in rome

The Keys to Unlock the Best Things to Do in Rome, Italy

In this 10 part weekly guide to Rome we share the local secrets and tips for savouring the best things to do in Rome.

There are so many tips and myths about the tourist traps about how you should view the Colosseum… what time, what day, the list goes on! Rome Confidential gives you the dirt on the best way to view one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.

We sat down with Rome-based tour guide Jimmy Kennedy who is an expert on all things Colosseum (official site) for some insider sightseeing tips and tricks.

Here’s what he shared with Rome Food Tours:

How do I beat the lines and what tourist traps should I look out for?

It is actually very easy to avoid the lines into the Colosseum. If you go to the Roman Forum first—where there is never a lineand you purchase your tickets there, it is the exact same ticket for entering the Colosseum. Having bought your tour ticket at the Forum you can go straight to the front of the line and go directly inside. The biggest pitfall for tourists is that when they see a line they just presume they are in the right place but if you do a small bit of research you will be surprised how easy it is to avoid waiting to see your attraction.

What about this gladiator controversy of late? It’s made quite a bit of press. Can you give us an update on the facts?

People have been dressing up as gladiators for years where you pose for a photograph and they charge you money. The problem was that they were charging people way too much and not telling torists the price until after the photo was taken. The issue was also that they were not paying tax on the money they were making. A few months ago they were banned from hanging around the Colosseum but as you can imagine the gladiators were very unhappy about this. The compromise was that they now need to have a licence, they must charge a fixed rate of €10 and they must be assigned a spot. No Gladiator has been assigned a spot by the Colosseum.

What’s the funniest story or misconception you’ve heard about the Colosseum?

Well, one of the funniest things a tourist asked me lately was, “Why would the Romans build the Colosseum so close to the Metro“?

It is also interesting that a lot of people do not realise that the name Colosseum is only a nickname given to the stadium long after the fall of the Roman Empire. Fact: the real name of the Colosseum is called the Flavian Amphiteatre. None of the ancient Romans ever called the Flavian Amphiteatre the Colosseum in the Ancient Roman times. The name Colosseum is named after a 37 meter statue of Nero that stood alongside it which was called the Colossas of Nero.

Rome, Italy - Colosseum

She stands tall and proud in Rome – the beautiful Colosseum

We know what used to go on here in Roman times, but what about now? Is the space used for anything of interest?

Yes, a lot of very important events take place at the Colosseum still today. Every Good Friday the Pope leads the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum at 3pm. In recent years it has become a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment, which was abolished in Italy in 1948. Several anti–death penalty demonstrations took place in front of the Colosseum in 2000. Since that time, as a gesture against the death penalty, the local authorities of Rome change the color of the Colosseum’s night time illumination from white to gold whenever a person condemned to the death penalty anywhere in the world gets their sentence commuted or is released.. Most recently, the Colosseum was illuminated in gold when capital punishment was abolished in the American state of New Mexico in April 2009.

I’ll bet you didn’t know….

The third level of the Colosseum and the underground level has recently been opened which is a fantastic place to bring tourists. The view from the upper 3rd level is incredible. But when I bring clients to the Colosseum I always do most of my explanations from where the Emperor would have sat. This of course is the best view in the house!


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Voted one of the best things to do in Rome, Eating Italy Food Tours offer a Rome walking food tour through one of Rome’s oldest and most characteristic neighbourhoods.

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  1. says

    I remember the gladiators. I was miffed by the demand for money afterwards; it should have been up front. But it makes a really cool souvenir, so with a few basic rules, it should be permitted. And at the Colosseum of all places.

  2. says

    Another way to beat the lines is if you purchase the roma pass. You can skip the line and go to the front, and I found that it was definitely worth the money.

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