Visiting the Colosseum can be a bit of an overwhelming process, especially for a first-timer! Needing to get tickets in advance, debating whether to join a tour, navigating the crowds, finding food after… there’s a lot to consider! Fortunately, I have visited this historical landmark once before, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve. When I knew that this was something my boyfriend and I wanted to explore, it was a no brainer to stay nearby at the Palazzo Manfredi — the hotel with the best view of the Colosseum in Rome, and so close that you’re literally neighbors with the old training quarters with gladiators. How cool is that?!
We started our morning with a tasty breakfast, and as you can see by the photos, an even more appealing view. No question this is exactly how you want to start your day in Rome!
After we were fueled up and ready to go, it was time to get our tickets. Luckily, we visited Rome in January, meaning smaller crowds during the slow season. Normally, I would suggest getting your tickets as far in advance as possible, but we were able to book same day with the helpful concierge team a our hotel. They printed the tickets our for us and we were able to skip the line upon entry. If you have an upcoming stay, I would advise reaching out to your hotel to have them book the tickets for you, as they know which options are best.
Once inside, you’ll notice that the arena floor is still under a massive renovation, while the top levels have been opened up to the public for the first time. This may hinder your ability to take unobstructed photos of certain parts of the landmark, but watching the renovation is pretty interesting! However, if this bothers you, you may be waiting some time until you can see the Colosseum as it used to be. In fact, it looks like they’re going to rebuild the arena floor to bring it back to it’s original glory. Not sure how I feel about this development, but it is imminent.
While you’re meandering around, you’ll see groups of people on tours, often called ‘gladiator tours,’ or something similar. I have a love-hate relationship with tours; I think they’re a good idea for some and a bad idea for others. I typically fall in the latter group, especially when there are swarms of tour guides around wherever you’re visiting. In that vein, be sure to steer clear of those soliciting right outside of the Colosseum. They are typically a rip-off, and you’re better off booking your tour in advance with the recommendation of your concierge. If you’re rocking that AirBnB life, and keen on getting guided around the arena, I would check out these TripAdvisor reviews for the best options.
One thing to keep in mind that stinks about visiting the Colosseum, especially in the high season, is that you can’t spend as much time as you’d like wandering the columns. Your ticket is assigned with an entry and exit time to ensure that the halls don’t get too crowded. To that end, a tour may be a good idea. Knowing that your time is limited will definitely be the decision-maker for those of you visiting in the near future.
If you’re lucky enough to score a late morning/early afternoon session at the Colosseum, that means you can enjoy lunch at Aroma in the Palazzo Manfredi when you’re done. If you claim to be a lover of fine dining like myself, this multi-course lunch will be right up your alley. Scroll down to see just a few of my favorite courses, including an apple dessert that still comes to me in daydreams, and wasn’t really an apple at all. If you are lucky enough to score a reservation, be sure to get the wine pairings – their wine program is impressive, and some of the funkier selections really surprised the palette and made for an even more adventurous dining experience.
Fourteen (yes, fourteen!) courses later, I found myself in culinary bliss. To walk off lunch, I encourage you to take a stroll through Monti, stopping at the shops on Via Urbana, like LOL, and find your way back to the Colosseum just in time for an epic sunset. Finish your night kicking your feet up in the tub at the Palazzo Manfredi, and you’ve had yourself a perfect day!