28 September 2021

Sept 27: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill

We got a combination ticket for the Colosseum and Forum area and set out in the morning. This time we were able to walk to the Metro stop and then take the A and B lines to the Colosseo stop where it drops you out right in front of the Colosseum.

The line moved pretty quickly, even though we had to show our ticket, our CDC vaccine cards, and go through metal detectors to get in. Once inside we used a free audio tour to orient ourselves to the sights. There are two levels of tickets apparently - a “full experience” that lets you access a few more areas and the normal ticket we had which did not. However, you see pretty much all the same things with or without it as far as I could tell. The visitor route sends you past a bunch of exhibits and you circle the entirety of the Colosseum in the end, visiting both the lower and upper levels.

Overlooking the Arena from the second level. Arena means sand, because the floor was covered in sand!

After visiting the Colosseum, the exit leads right past the Arch of Constantine and then up toward the Forum.

The Arch of Constantine, previously only seen in an art history textbook

The Forum has its own security and COVID certificate check, but then you’re inside once again and strolling through the ruins. Another audio tour was helpful here (although my phone’s battery life took a bit of a beating) as the sights are close-packed without too many signs. The area around the Curia (senate hall) was blocked off for archeological work but otherwise everything was accessible as expected.

Ruins of the Basilica of Constantine

One of the only statues in the Vestal Virgin residence that still had her head

The tomb of Julius Caesar. The guide mentioned flowers are thrown there regularly, looks like coins are too.

With the Forum visited, we backtracked to the entrance and walked up the Palatine Hill. No audio tour here but we wandered the early modern gardens and the ruins of the imperial palace. There’s a small museum, but it wasn’t accessible since we didn’t have a Full Experience ticket. The hill provides a great overlook of the Forum site.

The Palatine Hill has a commanding view of the Forum area

We spotted archeological excavations in progress on the hill.

Afterward, we went to lunch at the Alle Carrette Pizzeria, which we found recommended in the Rick Steves guidebook. The food was great. We then wandered the city doing some window shopping and ended up at St Peter’s Square as it began to get on toward evening.

St Peter’s Square

Afterward we had a bit of adventure getting lost trying to take a bus back to the residence and saw some out of the way parts of the city! All ended well and we stopped in at a restaurant for dinner as we walked back to the Villa and ended our day.