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Take a trip back in time with our Express Colosseum Tour: discover the history and the life behind the ruins, as you explore Rome’s largest archaeological area. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 25 people, to facilitate your interaction with your personable guide.
Avoid the interminable lines with our fast access tickets and get ready to fully enjoy your time touring Rome’s most incredible sites.
The Forum, the pulsating heart of Rome
When we think of the Roman Forum we can’t help but picturing it in our mind as a beautiful place, full of marble buildings, bustling with people, busy with all sorts of important activities. That’s why it might be surprising to think that at the very beginning of the history of Rome, the Forum was nothing but a swampy valley, used as a graveyard by the few local inhabitants, who lived uphill. It was only with the invention of the sewer, around the year 600 BC, that the swamp was finally drained: this was the beginning of the Forum as we know it. Temples, government buildings, court houses, statues, triumphal arches and shops were built and rebuilt over the centuries covering a time span of roughly 1200 years, until the last building, the Column of the byzantine emperor Focas, was built in 608. That was the last chapter in the history of the Forum: after that, the Forum suffered a thousand years of abandonment and continuous looting. Ironically, because of the lack of maintenance, the Forum eventually went back to being a swampy valley, named Campo Vaccino, literally the Cow Field, after the numerous flocks that used to graze there, unaware of the treasures buried under meters and meters of dirt.
A sad destiny, one might think: but it was actually for the best. In fact, just like a casket, the dirt preserved inestimable treasures for us to admire. As you explore these magnificent ruins, your guide will help you visualize what their original aspect might have been like, bringing them back to life for you. As you walk on the original roman road you will gain more insight on many different aspects of the Roman way of life, as each building has an incredible story to tell. So while admiring the Temple of Saturn, you will learn about the Saturnalia, the popular festivity that still lives on in some of our Christmas traditions, or while looking at the Senate you will learn more about the intricate roman politics. Retrace the steps of Marc Anthony as he stood in the Forum, exactly where now you can see the ruins of the Temple of Caesar, to give his eulogy for his assassinated friend, that still echoes in Shakespeare's famous words: “Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears”. Then, learn about the Vestal Virgins while walking in their house and feel the excitement of the victorious Roman emperors, while walking on the Via Sacra, the road where the triumphal parade was performed: hear about Titus’s victory against Jerusalem right in front of his Arch.
The Colosseum: bread and circuses
At the time when the Colosseum was built, Rome was about to reach the peak of its power, under the strong guidance of the Flavian dynasty.
Anxious to gain the support of the people, especially after Nero’s controversial reign, the new emperor Flavius Vespasian decided to use part of the booty from the recent sack of Jerusalem to sponsor what was going to be not only the masterpiece of the imperial propaganda, but also Rome’s most iconic building ever: the Flavian Amphitheatre, aka the Colosseum.
Built in an incredibly short amount of time, thanks to the Romans’ legendary ingenuity and efficiency (but also to the hard work of thousands of slaves), the Colosseum soon became Rome’s most popular attraction. In its 400 hundred years of activity since its inauguration in 80 AD, the Colosseum attracted thousands and thousands of passionate spectators, anxious to watch all the bloody spectacles that the Colosseum had to offer: gladiatorial combats, animal hunts, historical reenactments, capital executions and possibly even naval battles.
Not everybody, though, could get in to watch the shows: at that time, Rome had already 1.000.000 inhabitants, while the Colosseum had room “only” for 60.000 spectators.
They would be the lucky ones who would benefit from the emperor’s generosity, as he was the sponsor not only of the expensive shows, but also of the food: as poet Juvenal pragmatically put it, “give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt”.
Are you ready to travel back in time with us?
Near the entrance to the Ancient Roman Forum. Full details, including a map and photo, will be provided on booking.
This is a walking tour through large archaeological sites in Rome with steps and uneven surfaces. We strongly recommend comfortable shoes, a hat and a bottle of water.
Our guides are fluent in English and have a contagious passion for Rome's inspiring cultural heritage. Experts in their fields, they will immerse you in the hidden histories and intriguing lives of history's great protagonists. So much to see, so easy to miss out: with the help of our guides, visit the most absorbing sites and uncover the stories that have changed the world. Don't miss this fascinating journey!