Visiting one of the major tourist attractions (or traps) in Europe may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but there was a lot of work involved in pulling this off. When I was planning my trip to Italy, there were a number of attractions we had to do as first time tourists in the country (e.g. the vatican, coliseum). At the same time, thousands of other tourists have to check out the same attractions.
We started out by buying our tickets online while we were still at home. This is a big must and definitely saved us some time. The tickets we bought were for a certain day, but didn’t specify a time. When we showed up in the midst of a heatwave in Southern Europe, there were three different lines to get into the colosseum. We were in the middle line, which wasn’t as long as the line for people with no tickets, but not as short as the one for people with tickets for a specific time. If I were to do it again, I would shell out the extra bucks and buy the ticket with the assigned time. There weren’t any staff near the end of the line, so we had to ask quite a few people if we were in the right place. On the other hand, there are plenty of people in disguise as colosseum staff trying to rip you off with overpriced skip the line tickets.
We arrived first thing in the morning thinking the line would be the shortest. I guess everyone else had a similar thought, and we ended up waiting outside the colosseum for about an hour. Luckily, there were lots of people offering to sell you a variety of amenities, such as misters and water bottles. You can definitely haggle with these people, and we got a bottle of water down to €1. The area is also seething with pick pockets; I kept my hand on the zipper of my purse the entire time just to be safe.
Once we finally got to the security check, the family in front of us got rejected. The colosseum has upped their security measures in recent years and only allow small handbags and backpacks into the colosseum. The last time I checked, they don’t have any clear limits on their website on what is permissible, so I would try to bring the smallest bag possible.
We probably spent less than an hour in the colosseum. There were some areas that had historical information, but you were left on your own for the most part. There were plenty of unofficial tour guides outside the colosseum offering guided tours. While eavesdropping on the people behind us in line, I learned that they had hired a private guide in advance. I would assume this tour guide would be cheaper and much better quality.
The ticket to the colosseum is also good for the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. I didn’t have time to check these places out, as I was on a marathon tour of of Italy and had limited time in Rome. I think these places could be even more interesting than the colosseum, and likely aren’t as crowded.
I’m glad I got to check out the Colosseum, but definitely wouldn’t want to go back. I feel like there was a lot of pressure to check out the major tourist attractions in Rome, and found myself with a big envelope of pre-purchased tickets to attractions I wasn’t even that interested in. Now that the basics are out of the way, my next trip to Rome will definitely entail more time hanging out in Travestere and eating Cacio e Pepe.