Europe,  Travel

City Wonders Ancient Rome

CityWondersDark Rome Tours, a City Wonders brand, offers small group tours in Italy with expert, English-speaking guides and Skip the Line Access to help you get the best from your vacation. After being suggested to try Dark Rome Tours from our friends at Blogger Bridge, I reached out to them telling them that a girlfriend and I would be visiting Rome for the day, and they graciously booked us for the “Skip the Line: Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.” We were pleased beyond our expectation!

Our Italian guide’s name was Davide, and he was entertaining from the start. His English vocabulary was better than some Americans that I know. 😉 We walked around historic Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill) for three hours and Davide shared stories – some that I knew and others that I hadn’t. We use headsets, which was helpful because we could wander away from our guide but still hear him.AncientRomeThe Colosseum is one of the iconic tourist attractions in the world with thousands of visitors each year. The crowds are huge and the waiting time can be long. Fortunately, we walked by quickly after getting our bags checked through security. The hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 meters above the Forum Romanum, looking down upon it on one side and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.

The Colosseum was built between 70 – 80 AD by Emperors Vespasian and Titus and could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people. It was used primarily for gladiator contests and special events, such as mock sea battles and wild animal hunts. A gladiator school was built adjacent to the structures and wild animals were housed in the underground portion of the Colosseum. The structure is considered an architectural achievement of the Roman Empire.ColosseumFloorWe learned that the Roman Forum was the town center of Rome. It was the political, religious and shopping center. It contained the Senate, speakers platform, temples and shops. Unfortunately, marble and metals from the structures in Rome were removed from the Roman Forum and the Colosseum to build churches and other structures during medieval times. Davide asked us every step of the way, “Why do you think that this ancient structure is still here?” The answer was because it had been redeemed as a church or the words on the arches honored God. If they did not, but they exhausted the Roman gods, Constantine and rulers that followed destroyed the temples.SenateThe 15th century Church of St Lawrence was built with Roman Forum marble. The Temple of Saturn, built in 490 BC, is believed to be the oldest temple in the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum area was originally swampy and formerly used burial ground. The Roman engineers found a way to build proper drainage, which made the construction of the Colosseum possible. They build the first basilica here, which original was a meeting place for the Romans not a church as modern people now them to be.SaturnFollowing our tour of the Roman Forum, we made our way uphill to the famous Palatine Hill, the home of the Roman Emperors, which overlooks the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. It is a popular tourist destination and provides a great view of the surrounding area.PalatineHillDavide was extremely knowledgeable and interesting. I was very pleased with the quality of the tour and guide. It was nice to have a guide to point out interesting things at all three sites. I can’t imagine visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill without a guide like Davide, who really enriched the experience. Our tour ended in Palatine Hill which afforded us the opportunity to linger longer after the tour was done.

This was an amazing tour experience for us – priceless memories that will last a lifetime. We fell in love with ancient Rome. I would not hesitate to use them again. I find that a good guide always enhances my experience, no matter how much I know about a site. A guide also helps me focus on what specifically interests me. I like the idea of someone else taking care of the details. 😉 Because Davide packed this tour with some much history and interesting facts, I could not imagine writing and sharing all the stories. That being said, it is worth booking this Dark Rome tour the next time you are in Rome.

When in Rome, explore as the Romans did! 😉

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