A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Colosseum, and around 20,000 people a day agree! This week the exciting, yet somewhat controversial, news from this ancient amphitheatre is that in an effort to relieve crowding, visitors are now able venture into the bowels of the Colosseum. For the first time guided tours can enter the dark tunnels where the gladiators prepared to do battle, walk on the Roman bricks that still line the floors of the dungeons and see the remains of a sophisticated sewerage system.
To help you explore the Colosseum and more of Rome’s incredible ruins, Intrepid’s Chotie Moloney has put together a little walking tour that stretches your imagination as well as your legs…
“Take the metro from Stazione Termini two stops to the Colosseo to commence your walking tour of ancient Rome.
Built in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasiano of the Flavia family, the Colosseum had a capacity for 55,000 spectators. Hungry for savage fights, the citizens of Rome watched on from the four tiers as gladiators fought each other or battled it out against wild animals, and blood-coloured sand swept the floor during the skirmishes.
A stone’s throw away stands the Arco di Costantino, built in 315 AD to celebrate the victory of Constantine on Massenzio, three years earlier. The friezes and statues came from other monuments representing, amongst others, Daci prisoners.
Via del Fori Imperiali is the main causeway which links the other sites to the Colosseum complex. Built in the 1930′s under Mussolini, it created great controversy as it was constructed over some of the remains of the Roman Forum – once the spiritual and political centre of the Empire. Behind the Forum resides the Palantine Hill, where according to legend Romolo and Remo were suckled by the she-wolf, and archeological excavations confirm it’s the original area of the city. During the imperial era, aristocratic Romans lived here.
The more contemporary Victor Emanuel II Monument first opened in 1911. Built as a tribute to the first king of Italy, it was completed in 1927 and is better known as the Wedding Cake – the white limestone and marble in contrast with the muted tones of other ancient monuments of Rome. Piazza Venezia is centred on Via del Corso. Many palaces and lanes were destroyed to allow for the construction of this square. Infamous for displaying the hanged Mussolini by his feet some years later.
Continuing along the Via del Corso to V.d. Seminario and the Piazza d. Rotonda. The Pantheon was built in 27-25 BC by Marco Vispanio Agrippa to celebrate his victory against the Persians. The original rectangular shape was modified after two fires, when Adriano rebuilt in a circular shape 125 AD. From 608 AD, the Pantheon has been a Christian church in substitution for the ancient pagan gods. According to legend, the dome’s opening was made by a demon who during the consecration ceremony wanted to escape and demolished this part of the roof with butts of his horns.
Piazza Navona was built to glorify Pope Innocenzo X Pamphilj’s family and is a wonderful illustration of Baroque Rome. It was home until the end of the 19th century to a variety of popular games, particularly the Lake Game. The concave part of the square was artificially submerged to accommodate this spectacular. Home today to popular bars and restaurants, artist stalls and musicians. Fontana dei Fiumi was completed by Bernini in 1651.
Crossing back over Via del Corso to the Fontana di Trevi.
The Trevi Fountain is a symbol of the Baroque era and is recognised as the most beautiful in all of Rome. It was commissioned by Clemente XII and finished in 1762. The central statue is Neptune, with Abundance and Health – symbolising the plentiful water that has always bestowed the city. Legend has it you throw a coin and make a wish – it will come true and you will return to Rome!
Piazza di Spagna is the most famous square of the city. It is home to the boat fountain completed in 1629 by Bernini’s father, the Scalinata Spagnola – 138 Spanish steps, and the Trinita del Monti – French church founded in 1495 which contains paintings by Volterra. The piazza takes its name from the Spanish Embassy. Unique panoramic view of the city – particularly Via Condotti.
Your unofficial tour officially ends here – but other options include checking out the Ponte Sant’Angelo originally built in 130 AD and adorned with 10 angels by Bernini – this connects new and old Rome; continue along Via Condotti making your way west to the River Tiber; Piazza del Popolo (follow Via del Babuino) home to the famous church Santa Maria del Popolo which dates back to 1099 and houses two works by Caravaggio and a chapel by Raffaello; Bocca della Verita (behind the Colosseum) and much more!”
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* photo by Hacon Edgley – Intrepid Photography Competition