Ten years ago we visited the Colosseum in Rome and in early July we did it a little differently: we had our 8 year old with us and we chose the underground guided tour. That was the first time we took our daughter to a guided tour, so here I will describe how it all went so you can have an idea of what to expect in case you are considering doing the same.
The arrival and meeting point
We arrived at the mighty Colosseum about half an hour before our scheduled tour time. We stood in line for about 10 minutes, until we realized we should have gone all the way to the front of the line. My advice is to just go all the way to the front of the line, where staff will direct you to a special line inside so that you can collect the tickets you bought online. Once that is done, they will direct you to the guided tour meeting point, which was all the way to the left by the elevator (really, keep going until you see the elevator and the meeting point sign).
The guide and the underground
The guide arrived on time for the tour and she was very nice, knowledgeable and spoke very good English. She already started the tour with some good teachings and took us to the wooden part of the arena, where she pulled a few pictures to explain the differences between theatre and amphitheater as well as guide us through a walk down 5th grade History class.
From there, down we went to the underground part. I thought we would be able to walk through a big part of it, but not really. We were basically under the wooden part we had walked on earlier, but it was amazing anyways. Again, our guide was really good and she did a fantastic job of explaining how the underground worked and how the animals and gladiators would go up for “the show”. In my humble opinion, this was one of the best History classes I’ve ever had.
The third floor
After going all the way down, it was time for all of us to climb all the way up. During the climb, we were once again reminded of the “order of importance” that would grant the best seats in the house; and going all the way to the third floor showed us that while being very close to the action might have been cool, being all the way up would provide the best views in the house. And some of the best views of Rome.
Once we reached the third floor, we had more time for questions and for pictures and to learn some more about this important landmark and the History of Rome and the Roman Empire.
The tour, with kids
While we had a fantastic time with the tour and so did our daughter, I have to admit that keeping her engaged was not the easiest of tasks. The tour is relatively long (about an hour and a half) and is not kid-centric; plus, there are other people part of the tour (each group is of about 15-20 people). Before we went on the trip, we looked for videos and documentaries about the Colosseum to try and get her familiar with what we were going to see and get her “onboard” with the idea of the guided tour. Throughout the tour we kept reminding her that a gelato was waiting for her if she behaved well. And she did! 🙂 I would not recommend this tour for kids younger than 7 or 8 years old, especially if it is during summer time (it was really hot when we went), because neither kids nor parents will have a good time. Otherwise, go for it and make sure to do some “pre work” at home before you go.
Where to book
I searched for where to buy the tickets and kept being pointed to different places, until I finally found this website, where I booked the tickets.
Is it worth it?
Yes! It was totally worth it for the grown ups and even with the length and challenges to keep our daughter focused, she enjoyed and learned a lot – so much so, that out of the blue she will start telling us a fact she remembers from the Colosseum tour.
So my advice is: go for it!