Yesterday morning it was time to get up and go to the first of a few tours I booked the day before. I was kicking off the day with a small group tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine. After just walking around the area on my first day I decided I had to return and do it with a guide.

It was such a great experience. When you have someone full of knowledge who is keen to share it walking around and sharing things with you that you it’s amazing. I really prefer small group tours than these large ones I see happening. I like being able to interact and chat with the guide and the other tour guests. Each tour ends up a bit more personalised as different people have varying interests and ask different things. Francesco our guide was fantastic and he also used visual aides to help convey ideas and build images.

I really appreciate seeing the artistic representations of how the ruins we are looking at may have actually looked. The maps and visual representations add a whole other dimension on these tours. These are the bits that you just can’t get on your own walking around.

We met just before 10am at the Arch of Constantine to get our radios working and headed into the Colosseum. One huge benefit of this tour as well was that tickets are purchased through the tour group and we have express entry into the venues. The security and ticketing staff make effort to clear you and get you through as soon as possible. Just as we entered the line a woman to our right appeared to be suffering an episode of sorts. Her partner was doing all he could to just try to stabilise her and hold her upright. Our guide was so quick on his toes spotting this and told us to wait as he quickly moved forward calling out to the security and alerting them to the issue. They were then on it, as one located a wheely desk chair I could see the look in another guys eyes as he saw what was happening, trying to figure out the best next move he was handed the wheely chair. The woman managed to sit and we continued to walk past this all happening. It was an intense 20 seconds to a minute.

Anyway we then sped through the line getting shuffled off to another side for quick entry and we were on the way. As soon as we stepped inside I was already glad that I was having this experience. It was better already than just seeing the outside. It was incredible to be standing in a space with so much history. It’s a spin out thinking about how this was built in 9 years and how just a few days ago I was at La Sagrada Familia that has been getting built for 120 years and isn’t done yet. It’s amazing what you can do with slave labour.

We went up the stairs and got to look down onto the underground where the Gladiators and other animals were kept. As we chatted about the removable awning that used to attach to the top of the Flavian Amphitheater I was thinking about how over new years at Flavius’s Subspace I vaguely helped to erect the shade structure over our dance floor. I thought that was a good challenge but rigging this awning up would have been insane! I can’t even fathom how it was done.

After covering the 1st and 2nd floor of the Colosseum we made our way over to the Palatine Hill. The visual aides used by Francesco here were so helpful for my brain to make sense of what I was looking at. If I wasn’t on a tour I would not have appreciated what I was walking through as much as I got to. Sure I would of felt the immense history in these ruins and structures, but I would not have been able to picture so clearly which part of a palace I was walking through or looking at, and where someone else had lived this life.

The views from the hill were stunning. From here we could look over the Roman Forum and got an overview from above which made another huge difference for me when we made our way down there. From having the birds eye view and landmarks pointed out it meant I had better bearings when I was walking amongst these buildings and places. I could grasp a lot more of the area and how it interacted together.

This was an epic 3 hour tour that packed full of so much information I am lucky if I retained even 10% of it. It’s still probably 80% more or something than I started with. After the tour I headed back to my hotel, stopping for some lunch along the way. I was booked in for another tour at 8pm so I took the opportunity to go rest a bit and do some work before heading out again.

The next tour was Rome’s Dark Side – Ghosts & Legends. This was such a good tour, so many stories and all that information that you just don’t get anywhere else. We had a nice small group of people for this and Ivana our guide was incredible! She had so many tales to tell and it was awesome to hear her own personal experiences and connections weaved in amongst it all. This wasn’t as heavy a photo taking tour as others, this was a lot more about the narrative, connecting to the past and the feeling the city of Rome. We were taken to various locations, landmarks, buildings, etc. each with their own stories and intertwined histories.

Ivana also had lots of visual aides to help convey certain elements of stories, provide context, and also personalising those mentioned. After meeting in Campo De’Fiori we were introduced to our meeting place and started our tale with that of Giordano Bruno (the statue in the middle of the square). Which was no light hearted tale. Turns out this was the place where the burning executions used to take place. Hangings and beheadings were held in different locations, each with their own designated area.

The next two hours from here went way too fast and I could have listened for another 2 hours more quite easily! After the tour Ivana was super lovely and walked me to a taxi as where we were there wasn’t any and she knew where there would be some. She even chatted to the driver for me making sure he knew where I was going. So helpful and way above and beyond any expectations. So far every tour I have been on in Rome has been incredible (I need to get some new adjectives) and the hosts have been friendly, helpful, and super cool.