We really like visiting places after they’ve closed, especially in an exclusive-after-dark sort of way. The Colosseum opens its gates at night for special tours. Combination of the cool night air, moonlight and weird silence makes the place seem even more imposing. If only these historic walls could talk…
Each group is small – never more than 24 people inside the amphitheatre – so you’ve basically got the place to yourself. Your tour begins at Piazza Venezia. Here you will see the Vittorio Emanuele II monument lit up in all its glory. Many Romans hate this monument with its stark white marble being so at odds with the ancient town around it. But at night, there’s no denying it makes for a good photo.
A walk up the Capitoline Hill takes you to Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio. Take a minute to appreciate the breath taking views of the city below. Then you make your way past the Roman Forum to reach your destination. Behold the Colosseum!
You’ll start by moseying about the empty amphitheatre, while your guide regales you with stories of the Colosseum’s bloody battles. The guides are archaeologists or historians, so you know they really know their stuff. Make sure to prepare some questions, the small group size means you have all the time to grill your expert guide.
You also get to explore the parts that many tourists don’t get to see. You’ll be whisked underground to the tunnels and chambers where the behind-the-scenes stuff used to happen. Down here you’ll find the sanitarium, where injured gladiators received treatment (and the spoliarium, where their dead bodies were stripped of armour). You’ll wander through the animal pens and stables. Make sure to ask to check out the rooms where scenery and props were stored. It all makes a part of the show!
And then it’s on to one of our favourite parts of the tour. A guard opens the gate to the arena floor, where you’re be allowed to pretend you’re a gladiator.
Your tour starts slightly later than other tour groups. Which means it’s even darker by the time you get to the Colosseum. And what if the moon is hiding behind a cloud? Your guide has a torch so you can see this wonderful building in all its glory. Don’t fret, this only makes for a more atmospheric setting!
Walks of Italy’s Colosseum at Night tour begins at Piazza Venezia and ends up at the Colosseum.
Tours begin at 7.30, 8 or 9pm. Try to go as late as possible, for maximum darkness!
What you need to know:
Tours fill up quickly due to their small group sizes, so book in advance if you have your heart set on a particular date. Walks of Italy has a whole heap of other brilliant tours in Rome, including a gelato-sampling twilight stroll, and a crypts, bones and catacombs walk.