On the second day of our Roman Holiday we booked a tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum. We booked through the tour company City Wonders and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the tour. We used them for the Colosseum, the Vatican and a tour in Florence and every tour guide was knowledgeable, prompt, answered questions and spoke excellent English. The tour groups were not larger than 20 people and we skipped all the lines, which in some cases were very long.
For the Colosseum tour we opted to also see the newly underground area. This is the behind the scenes area of the stadium, and is only recently opened to the public. I found Roman engineering fascinating, and really enjoyed seeing the staging area. There was even an elevator for lifting gladiators and animals into the stadium! Imagine, an elevator in the first century A.D.
The tour also included the Roman Forum, which was at the heart of Roman life. I found the triumphal arches particularly breathtaking. The level of detail in the sculpture is amazing, as is the fact that such detail has lasted so long.
It was very hot out, so I wore an older Lilly Pulitzer t-shirt dress that I knew would be cool. I also wore my new boater hat. The hat ended up being an excellent choice; the tour was so bright that some people bought them from street vendors before the tour started. If you are going on vacation to a hot location anytime soon, I highly suggest bringing a hat. I felt stylish, and did not get a sunburn (I also wore SPF, of course).
What I found the most stunning about the ruins is how they pop out at you in the middle of a modern city. Wedged in between a burger joint and a gelato joint is the Colosseum, in remarkable condition, after almost 2,000 years. I truly felt so blessed to be able to see it.
Does anyone have any Roman or Italian history book suggestions? I haven't studied it since high school, and I feel so inspired to put my student cap back on and brush up on my ancient history!