Europe Travel

When in Rome

Location: Rome Italy

We spent three days in Rome in March. We visited many iconic sites, but today for the purpose of this blog post I am going to talk about the Colosseum. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world…also one of the most visited. Even during our visit in March it was bursting with tourists. Everyone wants to visit one of the great wonders of the world, the Flavian Amphitheater, more commonly called the Colosseum. And so When in Rome…

Flavian Amphitheater, commonly known as the Colosseum

Seventeen Years

It’s been 17 years since I visited Rome…my one and only visit prior to this. Seventeen years ago travel was very different. At that time carrying the “world wide web” in your pocket was just developing. I did not own a smart phone and was still using a DSLR camera. Words I had never uttered included social media, travel influencer and digital nomad. Businesses like Get Your Guide, Trip Advisor, Airbnb and Yelp were on the cusp of changing the way we travel.

October 2007
March 2024
October 2007

Our visit to Rome in 2007 was for four days at the end of a Mediterranean cruise. We walked up to the ticket booth at the Colosseum and purchased a ticket. Then walked into a line that was about a two hour wait. We didn’t actually wait though. We snuck in…yes we did. When in Rome….

Fast Forward to 2024

Today things are very different. Metal detectors, passport checks – high security is everywhere. To avoid the lines, you pay to do a tour. We booked with Get Your Guide a skip-the-line tour that included the underground area of the Colosseum, something I was very interested in seeing and something we did not see on our first visit. Our tour was about 3 and half hours, included an hour and a half with an archaeologist in the underground as well as a walk through the Roman Forum. This tour cost $100. If you are interested in the magnificent history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, seeing the underground with an archaeologist is a must. It was very much worth the additional cost. By the way, a single entry with out a tour guide is $45. So the tour is twice as much, and so worth it, especially if this is a one time dream vacation visiting Rome.

Looking into the underground area
Standing in the underground area

History in a Nutshell

The Colosseum is an iconic symbol of ancient Rome and a marvel of Roman engineering and architecture. Built in the first century AD under the rule of Emperor Vespasian, the Colosseum is one of the largest and most well-preserved amphitheaters in the world.

Ancient and remarkable

This massive structure could hold up to 80,000 spectators and was used for various forms of entertainment, including gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and mock sea battles. The Colosseum’s design features a complex system of ramps, tunnels, and trapdoors that allowed for the efficient movement of people, animals, and props during events.

Beautiful at night

The exterior of the Colosseum showcases three distinct architectural orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, reflecting the grandeur and sophistication of Roman architecture. The Colosseum’s elliptical shape and tiered seating provided excellent views for all spectators, creating an immersive and thrilling experience for the audience.

Despite centuries of neglect and damage from earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum still stands as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the ancient Romans.


Today, the Colosseum is a popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing millions of visitors each year to marvel at its grandeur and learn about its fascinating history. Even during our visit in March, and even on a rainy day, there were thousands of people. If you want to visit Rome, I recommend doing it in the shoulder season. Summer can be jam-packed.

Colosseum in the background taken from the Forum
Underground in the Colosseum

When in Rome

The Colosseum serves as a poignant reminder of the power, culture, and entertainment of ancient Rome, symbolizing the enduring legacy of one of the greatest civilizations in history. Everyone should see it once in a lifetime. Be sure to see it after dark too. Magical.


Thank you for reading my blog post When in Rome. See last week’s post Sicily Sensory Journey. Don’t miss last week’s book review The Council of Dolls by Susan Powers.

Are you following us on Pinterest? See this week’s top pin here Two Days in Bologna Italy.

We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thank you! Grazie! Keep following as we explore more of Europe in the weeks to come.

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  • Reply Maggie

    Rome was my very first international destination! So it will always have a special place in my heart. I was there in 2015, which isn’t as long ago as 17 years, but it was still before the era of GYG. I also went with my history professor at the time so he was our tour guide. If I went back know I’m sure the experience would be very different!

    March 30, 2024 at 4:11 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I will visit again. Such a place!

      March 30, 2024 at 6:01 am
  • Reply Sonia

    It’s amazing to think about the differences that you highlight between your visit 2017 years ago and today. The concept of digital nomads alone is a huge change.

    March 30, 2024 at 4:53 am
    • Reply Laureen

      It all changes so quickly

      March 30, 2024 at 6:01 am
    • Reply Terri

      I have visited Rome multiple times – 3x with my daughter, 1x with my son. It always reveals itself to me in different ways. But I also agree that paying for an expert commentary with a specialist walking tour is always worth the expense. Ciao!

      March 30, 2024 at 2:33 pm
      • Reply Laureen

        Thank you Terri! I hope to visit it again some day

        March 31, 2024 at 5:19 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    It is always interesting to go back to a spot after a long absence and see the changes. In many places in Europe and Italy, the crowds are all so much bigger than our early visits. Love to do a mix of re-visiting favourites and finding new gems when we hit large gateway cities like Rome.

    March 30, 2024 at 6:49 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Yes, crowds! I think that a is why we lean more and more to off season, especially since we are retired and can go whenever we want! 🙂

      March 30, 2024 at 7:55 am
  • Reply Sharyn

    I love how you compare your first visit to Rome to your latest visit. I agree, travel has changed I remember lining up to visit many places in Rome to buy an entry ticket. How things have changed or is that progressed! I’m glad you got to visit the underground as it is so interesting – I’m a history buff and love this stuff!

    March 30, 2024 at 4:01 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks Sharyn. the world is so different!

      March 31, 2024 at 5:19 am
  • Reply Jackie Feik

    Reading your fabfiftieslife is a wonderful escape while I sit here in the ICU with Bryan!
    I love following your adventures! Jackie

    March 30, 2024 at 4:08 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Oh no. I hope he is okay!!!

      March 31, 2024 at 5:18 am
  • Reply Kim

    I love exploring Rome and didn’t get enough time there last time. Next time I will do the Colosseum by tour, as I’d love to hear all the secrets from its history and hate wasting time queueing. Thanks for the tip.

    March 30, 2024 at 11:14 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      It was a wonderful history lesson!

      March 31, 2024 at 5:18 am

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