Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine and her friend were coming to visit me in Rome. I excitedly offered my services to them as host – not anticipating them wanting to go on any tours. I had thought I would just show them around the local food and drink spots of my favorite city. But my friend’s friend had never been to Rome before and desperately wanted to book a tour of the Colosseum. Having heard many horror stories about this, I was extremely reluctant. I’m not sure which company she originally booked online (my guess is that it was done through a 3rd party site, as she wasn’t sure of the tour company name) but it could NOT have been more of a disaster.
It was totally madness. There were so many “lines” with what seemed like people of authority directing people to some kind of process or order. But it was a complete illusion. We went from one line outside of the Colosseum before one of the guides told us about another line near the Palantine Hill (an 8-minute walk away) that would be shorter. It wasn’t. Not to mention, the “Skip the Line/Booked in Advance” line was actually longer than if we hadn’t booked tickets at all! We finally got to the ticket window about an hour later and showed the women our e-ticket on my friend’s phone. She informed us that we would need to print our ticket, despite it saying otherwise on the actual ticket. Where would we do this, we asked? The women, who was less than helpful, directed us to the Colosseum Metro station. Apparently, the ticket office had no computers or anything to be able to handle this task. Given the fact that we had about 10 minutes until our tour started, this was not an option. We were going to ask if it was possible to just book brand new tickets through her, but by this point we were tired of dealing with this woman and holding up the line. So, we got off the line to regroup amongst the three of us. I quickly looked up some last-minute tour options on my phone and luckily, was able to book a tour through Eden Walks. We had an hour and a half to kill which was the perfect amount of time for us to destress from the ridiculousness of our morning.
The memories of our disastrous morning started to fade away as our guide took us through the Colosseum. He was a wealth of knowledge about the sites – and Rome in general – and kept us entertained throughout the tour with his little anecdotes. After the Colosseum, we walked through the Ancient Roman Forum towards the Palantine Hill. I had seen the ruins many times from above, but it had been years since I wandered through them. You really felt as if you were traveling back in time. I was a bit disheartened to learn that the Museum on Palantine Hill was closed. I had been attempting to go for about a year but finally being that close to read the sign, I realized that it had been closed for renovations. It wasn’t that I was just missing the opening hours, like I had thought previously! Which made me feel somewhat better. There would be other times I told myself, and I quickly forgot my temporary disappointment as we continued to the top. The views from the Palantine Hill were absolutely amazing, as were the ruins.
After the tour, we decided to reward ourselves with a well-deserved Spritz nearby. Despite the rocky start, it ended up being a perfect sightseeing day in Rome. I was SO glad I was able to salvage the day. Thank you Eden Walks for coming to my rescue and restoring my reputation as a good host!