The Colosseum Underground, Now Open Through December

Colosseum underground open thru December

The Colosseum has just announced—already!—that it's keeping the underground and third tier open through December.

That's particularly surprising news (in a good way), since some of us, myself included, thought they'd close the underground over the winter, as they did last year. Or close the areas temporarily while they started restoration work. But no… which is good news for all of those excited to see the hypogeum and third level!

[Latest update, April 5 2012: After being closed due to floods, Colosseum officials just announced that the underground will reopen this Saturday, April 7. Update, Nov. 2011: I spoke too soon. Please see this Nov. 27 post about the closure of the Colosseum underground from Nov. 27 2011 for a full update.]

The new details:

From Oct. 30-Dec. 31, English tours will run at 9:40am, 12:40pm, 1pm, and 2:20pm. If you go with a tour with an official Colosseum guide (a 2-hour tour that includes only the Colosseum, with the underground and third level), the price is €21.50, including the €1.50 booking fee. The maximum group size for each tour is 25 people. Call +39 06 39967700 to book; here's a Q&A on how to book with the Colosseum and what the underground tour includes.

Since the Colosseum guides can be quite dry, remember that you also have other options, including underground Colosseum tours with livelier guides from Walks of Italy or a tour with Dark Rome.

Any questions? Ask away in the comments!    

You might also like:

Where to Eat in Rome's Most Touristy Areas (Colosseum Included)

Twelve of My Favorite Churches in Rome

On Fridays Through Fall, See the Vatican Under the Stars

Continue Reading

Confirmed: The Colosseum Underground and Third Tier Are Open Through October

Update, October 2011: The Colosseum has just announced that the underground and third level will remain open through… Dec. 31!

After weeks of wondering whether the Colosseum underground and third level would be open in October, good news: They are. Colosseum management Pierreci just confirmed the hypogeum and third tier opening through the month.

As before, these areas are open only to those on specified tours, and must be booked in advance. (The official, Colosseum-run tour, which is one of several options that I explain in the next link, is about an hour long. It includes only these new areas, although the guide will of course be talking about the Colosseum in general, and you'll be left in the Colosseum itself afterwards to explore the rest on your own). Here is more information on the different tours available of the Colosseum underground; here are some photos of what to expect of the Colosseum's underground and top tier.

I'll be updating this post with more information as it comes in—such as whether the areas will be open in November—so keep checking back here.

 

Continue Reading

The Colosseum Opens at Night

Colosseum at night
We'll add it to the list of cool ways to see the Colosseum: The Colosseum is now open at night.

Every Saturday until September 17, the Colosseum will be open from 8:20pm to midnight. (Last entrance is at 10:45pm). It costs €18 to visit the Colosseum and the Colosseum's "Nero" exhibition, or €23 to also visit the Colosseum underground, with a guide. To book, call +39 0639967700. For more information (in Italian), click here.

Continue Reading

Opera in Rome, Outdoors, at the Ancient Baths of Caracalla (Updated for 2013)

Baths of Caracalla at nightThere's nothing like seeing opera in Rome… especially when it's outdoors, backdropped by the ancient Baths of Caracalla.

Once again this summer, Rome's 3rd-century baths are hosting one of Italy's most famous summer opera series (there are ballet performances, too). And it's definitely worth doing.

The enormous Baths of Caracalla, which deserve a visit in their own right, are especially atmospheric at night. And so they're a breathtaking (if not always entirely plot-appropriate) backdrop for some of Italy's best-loved operas and ballets. The indoor performance space of Rome's Teatro dell'Opera is wonderful, too. But in summer, there's nothing quite like catching the performances out in the fresh air, with the colored light playing on the ancient ruins.

The Teatro dell'Opera summer 2013 lineup includes not only opera, but ballet and concerts. Top picks include an American Ballet Theatre production by Robert Bollet and friends on July 21 and 22, the one-off concert directed by Ennio Morricone on July 25, and, of course, the classic, Puccini's opera Tosca, from Aug. 1 to 6. 

Tickets start at €25, but I'd advise springing for the more-expensive seats. (The "cheap seats" are all the way on the sides, where it's be hard to see much at all). When I went, I sprang for a middle-of-the-road €60 seat, which had a great view… even if the plastic chair still had me squirming with discomfort by the show's end.

Book your tickets for the Baths of Caracalla performances online, by calling 800 907080
(from abroad, 0039 (0)6 48078400), or buy them ticket points around the city. If you're a student, under 25, or older than 65, with your ID, you can get 25 percent off. 

Continue Reading

Confirmed: The Colosseum’s Underground Is Open Through September

Colosseum underground and third level now open thru September

Hot off the press: The Colosseum's underground and third levels will be open… through September!

After that, though, there's not only no confirmation that those newly-restored areas will be open — but it seems likely they might close, at least temporarily. That's because September is when Rome plans to start a $35 million restoration (paid for by the Tod's shoe company!), and with work going on, who knows what will be open.

Then again, it's Italy, so who knows if the restoration will really begin in September, either.

For more information, check out my post on the three best ways to see and to book the Colosseum's underground; what the new areas of the Colosseum look like; and a step-by-step guide to booking the Colosseum through the Pierreci phone number.

Continue Reading

This Weekend, Lady Gaga Joins Rome’s Gay Pride Parade


 

This Saturday, Rome hosts a Gay Pride parade unlike any other — because the famous Lady Gaga will be in attendance.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you know that this is a very. Big. Deal. For Rome, and for gay pride worldwide.

Want to see Gaga? Then be at Circus Maximus this Saturday afternoon, where Rome's annual Gay Pride parade ends. (The parade starts at 4pm at Viale Enrico de Nicola, then heads down Via Cavour to Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Colosseum).

And if anyone asks what's wrong with you, spending your time in Rome looking for an American celebrity, you know what to tell them: "Baby, I was born this way."

Update: I've posted the Youtube video, above, of Gaga performing her two (beautiful and way-slowed-down) songs at Circus Maximus. And here's Gaga's 15-minute speech on gay rights.

Continue Reading

The Colosseum’s Underground: More Good News

Underground of the Colosseum, now open through July

Everyone’s still excited about the opening (and then re-opening) of the Colosseum’s hypogeum and third levels. Now, there’s more news. And it’s especially exciting for travelers hoping to get into the underground this summer.

First, Colosseum has confirmed that it’ll be running tours of those newly-opened areas through July, rather than ending in June, as previously announced.* And, although it’s not confirmed, rumor has it that the hypogeum and third levels will proooobably also be open through October.

*Addendum, April 5: After being closed due to floods, Colosseum officials just announced that the underground will reopen this Saturday, April 7.

*Addendum, Oct. 20: The Colosseum hypogeum and third tier will be open through December.

*Addendum, Sep. 25: The Colosseum underground will be open through the end of October.

Second, before, the Colosseum only was allowing access to the hypogeum and third level via its own tours, given by official Colosseum guides. (Even tour agencies selling the Colosseum underground hand their clients over to official Colosseum guides for the underground part of the tour). But that’s changed. Now, one agency, Walks of Italy, is using its own guides for the hypogeum and third level on the VIP Colosseum underground tour. And, although I’m obviously a bit biased (full disclosure: I used to work for these guys), I think this is an alternative to consider.

Why? Well, even though the official Colosseum guides know their stuff, they can also be a bit, erm, dry. (Your spiel would start to sound dull, too, if you’d been repeating it five times a day for the past 10 years). And not all of them speak that great of English.

So, from what I can see, there are now three main ways to get into the Colosseum’s underground.

Here they are:

Colosseum tour only, with a Colosseum guide. I outlined how to book this tour in an earlier post about booking the Colosseum’s underground. The cheapest way is to book by phone, at least if you have Skype’s Skype-to-phone set up or a great long-distance plan. Otherwise, you can book by using a website like Omniticket, but these sites charge a premium for the convenience. (And all they’re selling you is the official Colosseum tour that you’d get by calling Pierreci).

The facts: Costs €21.50 (if you book directly over the phone). Takes about 1 hour. Only covers the Colosseum and its underground. You use an official Colosseum guide (not always a good thing). Maximum group size is 25.

The complete ancient city tour, but where you’re handed over to a Colosseum guide. This option would be Dark Rome’s Colosseum underground, forum and Palatine tour. They’re one of the only agencies I can see that offers access to the underground as part of a bigger ancient city tour (i.e., not just the Colosseum), but they don’t do the Colosseum underground part with their own guides.

The facts: Costs €92. Takes 3.5 hours. Includes the Colosseum and its underground, along with forum and Palatine. For the Colosseum part of the tour, you’re handed over to an official Colosseum guide; for the rest of it, you use a Dark Rome guide. Maximum group size is 10; for the Colosseum part, it’s 25 (since you’re put onto the bigger group).

The complete ancient city tour, with your own guide throughout. So far, only offered by Walks of Italy on its VIP Colosseum Underground Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill tour.

The facts: Costs €79. Takes 3 hours 15 minutes. Includes the Colosseum and its underground, along with the forum and Palatine. For the Colosseum part of the tour, you get to keep your own Walks of Italy guide. Maximum group size is 12, throughout the whole tour (since you get to keep your guide).

Options galore!

You might also like:

The New Areas of the Colosseum: What They’re Really Like

(Fun!) Books for Readin’ Up on Rome

Rome’s Best Archaeological Museum: Have You Been?

 

Continue Reading

Enjoy Martedi in Arte… Throughout 2011

Martedi in arte nighttime visits through 2011 to Italian museums

Martedi in Arte — that fantastic tradition where, on the last Tuesday of each month, major state museums in Italy are open and free from 7pm-11pm — is a hit. Such a hit, it's going on all year long.

Here in Rome, participating sites include the Palazzo Massimo (a savings of €10!), a treasure trove of ancient art and sculpture; the often-overlooked, but useful, Crypta Balbi; the Pantheon (always free, but only open so late for occasions like this one); the Palazzo Barberini, filled with gems by Raphael, Caravaggio and more; Castel Sant'Angelo, the papal castle; and the Galleria Borghese, that world-renowned collection of pieces by everyone from Bernini, Raphael, and others.

So mark your calendar: The next Martedi in Arte is May 31. But if you miss it, don't worry. You've got more shots… on June 28, July 26, August 30, September 27, October 25, November 29, and December 27. Phew!

Here's a list of museums across Italy participating in Martedi in Arte.

Continue Reading

In Rome, the Night of (Free!) Museums

Notte dei Musei 2011

Great news: Across Europe, museums will be free and open late the night of May 14.

Here in Rome, that includes all state-owned museums, like the Musei Capitolini, MACRO, Galleria Borghese, Palazzo Barberini, and Castel Sant'Angelo.

A little more unusually, it also includes museums not often part of these free events, like the Scuderie del Quirinale (currently with a Lorenzo Lotto exhibit); the MAXXI, with its great Michelangelo Pistoletto exhibit; and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, with its show on European 19th- and 20th-century art including pieces by Corot, Monet, Renoir, Ernst, Klee, and Picasso.

All will be open, and free, from 8pm-2am, with last entrance at 1am.

Another bonus? The Palazzo dell Esposizione hosts two piano concerts by Michelangelo Carbonara, one at 9pm and one at 10:30pm, celebrating the same time period that's also shown with the exhibit.

Happy free culture!

Continue Reading