When In Rome (The Ancient City: Fora Romano, Palatino and Colosseum)

There’s nothing can be added here to the vast store of scholarship about ancient Rome. I hope the pictures will simply speak for themselves. But I can offer practical advice: It takes hours to see everything. You can enter the venues (Fora and Colosseum) only once each over two days. You’ll need sturdy shoes, a big bottle of water plus maybe nibbles. Rest and cool down where possible. And a vivid imagination is essential. These are places where real people, some still known by name, lived and worked two millennia ago.


Most people enter the ancient city from the North, on the Via dei Fori Imperiali near the Piazza Venezia. You buy your two day ticket (2011: 12 euro; check times and prices, and buy online here) and you can then decide whether to visit the Fora, Palatino and the Colosseum all on one day, or if you prefer the Forum and Palatino on the day of purchase, and the Colosseum on the next day. But once you have entered the site, there’s no going back for anything you may have forgotten (sun hats? water? baby needs?), so do come prepared.

So, having walked down the path from the Forum entrance, you can turn right towards to modern city, where the mix of styles and landmarks is extraordinary. Note for instance the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in the background:

And then you can turn around and begin to stroll south, towards the Colosseum and the Palatino:

There are points of interest far too numerous to list, but after a few hundred metres you are likely to be enticed into the Tempio di Romolo on your left, not least because it offers shade from the relentless sun. What you will find inside is stunning….

And as you exit you have an excellent view of the central aspect of this whole amazing site.

Continuing to the left, there’s a shady walkway where emperors, even Julius Caesar, once marched. Hard though it is to perceive, a rest stop here gives time to imagine how things may have been all those hundreds of years ago; no tourists meandered, but rather men of vast power and wealth bestrode this road, imposing their iron will on all attending them.

Emerging from the shade, we reach the iconic Arch of Titus, at the crossroads to the Colosseum and the Palatine.

Some will choose here to make straight for the Colosseum, continuing out of the site gates down the Via Sacra…

… but this direct route southwards to the Colosseum means that you won’t see the Palatine, a different, greener but also unmissable part of the ancient city.

There’s a museum offering cool shade and much to see here, before you take the path south again, past yet more enormous public areas …..

…. and, as you descend the slope to the modern circular road, the grand houses of the wealthy of two thousand years ago…

So, finally, you reach the Palatino exit (also, NB, an entrance point from the south of the city). From here you can turn left to visit the Colosseum, just a few hundred metres away.

Or, if you want to leave the Colosseum, a place of both civic dignity and gory death, for tomorrow, why not turn right towards the Circo Massimo, and then right again, to see the place where ancient Romans enjoyed their other robust sport – the chariot races?

The Via del Circo Massimo, going north towards the modern city, gives spectacular vistas of what is probably the largest chariot race course in the world, whilst also offering another view of the splendid houses of the Palatine, where the rich and famous of their day resided in a fashion which we, tourists and visitors in the twenty-first century, would for the most part even now regard as the height of luxury.

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Posted on August 2, 2011, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Cities, People And Places, Photographs And Images, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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