If you are looking for a Dutch language post: “Het Colosseum, het Forum Romanum, Capitoline museum en het Imperial Forum“
October 11, 2015
The next day we planned to visit the old roman ruins. We took the metro from Ottaviano to Colosseo. For this you need to change from line A to B at Termini (central train station where the two lines cross). Rome is building a third metro line, which runs just next to the Forum Romanum. But as you can imagine, has been taken decades with all the archeological finds they encounter! You exit the subway right opposite the Colosseum.
If you want to avoid the long lines use a Roma Pass! Once you have your Roma Pass, you can then head to the front of the lines at the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, or the Forum Romanum. Opening hours for the Colosseum: from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm, for Forum Romanum: 8:30 – 9:15
Now for an update on the long and short ticket lines to get in the Colosseum. It seems most visitors buy a Roma Pass, or an online ticket, or an entrance ticket with a group. All these visitors now come together in the ‘fast’ lane. This lane is very very long when we arrive at 11 AM and far from fast! Looking at the other side of the line, I see no one has to wait, and logically think that this is the fast lane, that will get me in faster with my Roma Pass. When I arrive at the point where the two lines separate I realize that individual people without a ticket, are the ones that get in without having to wait. A bit taken back I show my Roma Pass, and an Italian lady in front of me says, you better do not have a ticket, and in the same sentence starts cursing Italian bureaucracy. “This has to be Italy, where you have to stand in line, with a skip the line reserved ticket or Roma Pass.” I follow her cue, put my Roma Pass away, and follow her in, acting as if we do not have tickets yet. Once inside both lines ( the line for visitors without and with a ticket) come together with just a seperation lint in between. Not having to wait at all, I have my bag checked. Of course once inside I am in the wrong line. I first just want to crawl under the separation lint, but when someone from security passes, I wave my Roma Pass to him, and he gestures me to the other side of the line, and opens the separation lint for me. I thus come into the line for reserved tickets (like the Roma pass). I move towards the ticket booth and exchange the reserved and paid tickets for actual entrance tickets, and pay for a voucher for two audio guides (5,50 euro for an audio-guide) We go in, all without having to stand in line, towards the entrance where there is a separate entrance for Roma Pass and other individually paid tickets. I have to crawl under one of the separation lints once more to scan my ticket at the Roma Pass terminal. This is my first museum with the Pass, thus the entrance is free (together with the Forum Romanum and the Palatine).
My advice: first check out which line is the shortest, if you have a ticket already, just choose the shortest line, this way you do not have to wait even though you booked your ticket online. In the system as it is now, the visitors without a ticket are privileged.
You start your tour on the upper floor and wind down to the street level floor. The audio guide gives you a straight forward tour through the Colosseum, having you stop at different vantage points. I am always amazed at some of the stories told to tourists by tour guides, some are historically wrong, some completely of point, some just funny without being informative… And people pay for this? Just take an audio guide, it is money well spent.
After leaving the Colosseum we walk via de via Fori Imperiali up to the Piazza Campidoglio where the statue of Marcus Aurelius on his horse stands. ( this is a copy, the original stands in the museum). We use our Roma Pass to get into the Musei Capitolini which as second museum is also free with the Roma pass. ( if you want to get the most out of the Roma Pass, choose the more expensive museums for the two free entrance tickets: Colosseum- Forum Romanum, Musei Capitolini, Galleria Borghese) and use it to get reduction on the other entrance tickets). We are happy to get inside since it is still close to 40 degrees outside.
The Capitoline museum really is a must, I don’t understand why so little people actually visit it! It was July(and steaming hot outside) and the museum felt empty, not that I mind, I prefer it this way. This museum was actually the first public museum in the world. The museum is beautifully set up, but the personnel is a real disappointment. They are unfriendly, and don’t seem to care for you as a visitor. It was already like that in when we visited in 2012 ( when we entered the museum without paying by accident ) and it was still the same in 2015. They tell you you have to check in your bag in one of the lockers for which you need 1 euro. We needed two lockers but only had one one euro coin. I asked one of the ladies if I could change money and she angrily shouted “inside!” I tried to tell her that the changing machines inside the locker room where out of order, but she walked away… I asked someone else, she moved around a bit, and eventually another guard came and changed 20 euro in another machine, and exchanged my small change into a one euro coin. I inserted it into one of the doors, tried to lock it, but was unable, while my coin was stuck inside… sigh. The lady came and poked it out with a key, and searched another locker that worked. Well it took us far too long, and with too much hassle to put two bags into a locker! My husband wrote a complaint letter. We saw them later having the same trouble with locker money stuck in the door, twice on the same locker! It surely frustrates a lot of visitors. But the museum itself is wonderful, the tabularium with views over the Forum Romanum alone are impressive enough to buy the entrance ticket.
Do not miss the scripture gallery in the cellar and the large atrium with the original statue of Marcus Aurelius. In the central courtyard, pieces of a huge statue are on display. The larger than life, head, arm, and foot are poetic. And you must see the wolf with Romulus and Remus in the apartments.
We passed and took a look at the Trajan’s column on top of Trajan’s tomb. It is like a long circular comic book about the emperor’s two campaigns in Dacia. We then took an ice cream at Via IV Novembre and drinks at the terrace of the Cafe Club House.
Since it was a terribly hot day, we decided to visit the Forum in the evening, when the sun wasn’t scorching hot anymore. We entered the forum at 6 PM, because all guide books mentioned closing time was one hour before sundown. Since the sun would go down a quarter to nine we figured we would have two hours to visit. When we entered they said they would close at 7 PM already, which left us with one hour only. So best check the correct closing times in advance. There were very little visitors, so we enjoyed a relaxed visit. They do start closing off sections of the forum about half an hour before closing time though. And exactly at seven the intercom loudly announces it is closing time and everyone starts moving towards the exit.
The evening is a perfect time for a visit but better start two hours before closing time! We then went looking for a place to eat, behind Via Cavour. To get there you mount the stairs on the right if you are facing the Colloseo metro entry. We eventually ended up in the same restaurant as two years ago, La Cicale e la Formica, via Leonina 17, and were happy we did so. We took raw swordfish in lemon, followed by fresh homemade pasta, one with pesto, one with courgette and ham, and a homemade dolce: pannacota, cheesecake and tiramisu.
If you have time, walk to the Colosseum and via Fori Imperiali in the evening, it is very beautiful with the lights on! Best way to finish the day.