Rome – where do I start? There’s nothing that hasn’t been said about Rome – every area has been covered by magazines and newspapers, its attractions have been listed in every possible brochure, and each offbeat attraction has been dissected numerous times. Despite all this, it is so easy for a short weekend break to Rome to go wrong? Wonder why?
A visit to the Colosseum is the focal point of a weekend break or cruise stop-over in Rome. Yet the Colosseum can be every tourist’s nightmare – think lack of food, long queues, and longer waits. If you don’t want to be squashed in queues or be forced to pose with faux gladiators and plastic grapes (aah, the things one witnesses while travelling 😉 ), you could either take one of the Colosseum tours or better still follow our top 5 tips for planning a visit to the mighty Colosseum 🙂
1) Avoid the queues and buy a 2 day ticket
The mile-long queue in front of the Colosseum is enough to send anyone in a tizzy. Do yourself a favour and buy your tickets at the counter in front of Palatine Hill. Buy a combination ticket that is valid for 2 days and includes entry to The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and The Roman Forum. The ruins of The Roman Forum are spectacular – keep at least half a day for them.
2) Carry snacks and wear comfortable shoes
Trust me when I say this, you do not want to be tottering on the stairs of the Colosseum wearing heels. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes because the sun can be harsh in the summer.
Make sure you carry snacks and drinks to the Colosseum – you will need them even if you’ve had a heavy breakfast. It is easy to the better part of the day exploring the amphitheatre, The Arch of Constantine, and The Roman Forum. You will welcome granola bars, sandwiches, and chocolates. Hungry = Grumpy. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 🙂
3) Explore the surroundings
It’s hard to believe that there is a quiet neighbourhood, bedecked with bougainvillea vines, literally 5 minutes away from the Colosseum. Turn left on exiting The Colosseum Metro Station. You will find a flight of stairs. Climb the stairs and follow the path. It will lead you to a quaint Italian neighbourhood – perfect for letting off steam once the crowds thronging the Colosseum have gotten to you. There is no dearth of great hotels in Rome and you can easily find one that suits your budget in the vicinity of the Colosseum
4) Don’t eat in the vicinity
It goes without saying that most restaurants around the Colosseum are overpriced. Moreover, their food is about as authentic as the pastas and pizzas stacked in the aisles of your local supermarket.
We suggest avoiding the area completely. Head to Testaccio or Trastavere for generous portions of authentic Italian food. The Eating Italy Food Tours offer a variety of tours in these areas. These offbeat, unique tours offer a perfect introduction to local Italian food. They are a feast for the senses like no other. Nom! 🙂
5) Return at night
The Colosseum is magical at any time of the day but the romance gets amplified at night when the crowds have dispersed. It is the perfect time to tiptoe around the circumference of the mighty amphitheatre. Run your fingers along its walls while imagining gladiator combats in full swing.
Want to read about some of our favourite Italian eats? Hop over to our article about Genoa *cue drooling* 🙂