Rome has been a dream of mine since I was young so when I got the opportunity this year to go, I was beyond excited for it. My visions of Rome were always sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking wine by a beautiful fountain (if you read any of our other blog posts, you will see that water features are a big draw for us). I very naively didn’t envision crowds of people, very aggressive vendors trying to sell things or crazy long lines trying to get in to the sites. Parts of Rome were like going to an ancient Disneyland type park and were in some ways worse. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love Rome and loved my time there. There are just a few sites that I would do differently next time I go.
What is a more iconic symbol of Rome than the Colosseum? The amphitheater was started in AD 72 and completed in AD 80 and is incredible to see in person. It is a true testament to Roman architecture and engineering and has withstood the test of time.
The big issues is that the lines are incredibly long, the crowds are heavy, and there are very aggressive people who are selling merchandise and tours. On the aggressive salespeople, the tactics they use are to get in your physical space and sometimes will actually touch you. When we were there, one vendor grabbed my son and put a bracelet on his wrist and said “it is yours now so you need to pay me”. We saw another vendor put a rose into a girl’s hand and demand payment. She was arguing with him for a bit and then just decided to pay so she could walk away. Visiting this site was very off putting to my kids who decided they did not like Rome that day based on that experience (they came around to like it on some of the other days).
If you would like to go see the Colosseum and do it the most painless way possible, buy tickets ahead of time at their official website, and there is a great guide to buying tickets on Trip Advisor (explains the type of tickets based on what you want to see). Included in some of the tickets are the other sites – The Forum and Temple of Venus and Rome (definitely worth seeing without the long lines).
The Temple of Venus and Rome was build from AD 121 to AD 141. It had a large restoration about 8 years ago and is beautiful inside. This site is just to the right of the Colosseum.
You don’t need a ticket to see the Arch of Constantine, but just make sure to take a long look at this structure that was built in AD 32 and stands next to the Colosseum.
Sadly, I don’t have a photograph of the Vatican City because we were not actually able to go inside. The city site location is very accessible by the subway (so that was simple), but if you don’t buy tickets at least 3 days in advance, the line can be 4 hours long (as it was on the day we went). Even you if you have tickets, the line can still be long. On top of that, like the Colosseum, there are very aggressive tour sellers trying to convince you to buy their tour and “skip the line.” The issue with these tours is that the price is almost twice what you would normally pay, and if you have several people in your party, that can add up fast. The other problem is that these tour sellers will follow you for quite a distance and stay with you trying to convince you to buy their tour. They can be a little physically aggressive and verbally mean if you keep turning them down.
If you want to go see the what I am sure are amazing sites, a recommendation would to go to the website and buy the tickets well in advance from the Vatican Museum web site. Then when you are there just keep saying to all of the vendors, “I have tickets already” and quickly move on to the ticket holder line.