The Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of the most enduring legacies of the Roman empire. The story of the gladiators, panem et circenses, has been immortalized in many books and films, and one of my favorites is Ridley Scott’s 2000 film Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. Its themes of honor, duty, betrayal, and revenge are just as true today as they were in the times of swords and sandals, and quotes from the film flitted through my mind as I wandered through the ruins of the Colosseum.


Does what we do in life really echo in eternity? I think so. I think actions have consequences, whether immediate and far-reaching or small and subtle. Maybe something you do today won’t change anything in the outside world now, but it will change you, and it will change the way you act towards, or impact the lives of, others in the future, which will then change their actions and the actions of those whose lives they themselves touch. And beyond that? Who knows? Francis Thompson says it another way: “Thou canst not stir a flower without troubling of a star.”

In the warmth and light of the Roman sun, it’s hard to feel the heartbreak, the anger, the desperation, the gruesomeness of the deaths that regularly occurred within the now pockmarked walls of the Colosseum. The emperors are gone; the screaming mob have long been laid to rest. Are we, now, better than they were then? What will our legacy be?

For myself, I don’t plan on conquering the world or gathering adulation from strangers. I pray only for strength to withstand the battles of my time, to act always with honor, and to do my best for those whose lives have been entrusted to me.


Travel tips:

  • Book your tickets ONLINE! I cannot believe the number of people standing on queue for tickets outside the Colosseum when it is so easy to get tickets online. I almost felt guilty breezing past them. There’s a 2-euro booking fee but, come on, time is gold, opportunity cost, and all that. If you’re Filipino, look for Filippine in the “Nazionality” drop-down list; if you’re American, it’s Stati Uniti. After paying, my ticket arrived by email and I didn’t even have to print it out. I simply showed the PDF to the guys at the entrance; they only need to scan in the barcode.
  • If you want to stay within walking distance of the Colosseum, try the Hotel Ciao. We actually booked with Hotel Luciani but was assigned a room in its sister hotel, Hotel Ciao. Our room was only 40 euros a night (good for 2 people, with breakfast), pretty spacious, and very conveniently located — it’s right across Roma Termini.

Happy travels! Strength and honor. πŸ™‚

The Colosseum” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.Β 


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23 thoughts on “The Colosseum”

  • I loved Rome! It was my dream trip! Another great way to skip the long lines is to pay for a tour. This also benefits because there is so much to look at that it is great having someone to tell you what you are looking at. The guides also give you some inside tidbits.

  • Booking online works for most attractions. The queue for The Vatican that we bypassed snaked around the block. Tour buses are also a good way to see a few sites and get around town at the same time.
    Some thoughts on eating at Italian tourist spots:
    If you feel like having something to eat and sit down somewhere opposite a tourist attraction, check the prices. You might find even a drink comes at a high price. And those places are some of the very few I’ve eaten at in Italy where I’ve had crap food. Not saying they all are! But the business owners pay well for these prime spots and they have to make that back off you. If it’s cheap then it probably wont be great. If it’s great it probably won’t be cheap. At least look a couple of streets away. Is there an eaterie off the beaten track? Are the customers plentiful and Italian? Probably a good sign.
    The food in a little back street Osteria or Trattoria can be simple but superb. You don’t have to go to a ristorante.
    Italy is renowned for the food and with good reason! Most Italians won’t tolerate poor food unless it’s what they specifically want, like MacDs! (sorry, I’m not a fan!). Even Italian motorway stops like Autogrill do decent fresh snacks and coffee.
    Sandwich/Panini-type bars where local workers get lunch are usually a good bet, although recent efforts to clean up may mean that you may not be able to take it away and sit at the Trevi Fountain scoffing your toasted ham and cheese without attracting some attention!
    Ask the locals where to eat. Your hotel reception should have some good ideas. Ask them about how much their favourite places charge.
    Be aware of the difference between Caffes (coffee places) Osterias (bars) Trattorias (cafes/diners) and Ristorantes.
    Bread put on the table is usually included in the cover charge, so it’s ok to eat it. Don’t be afraid to order a starter and a/another primo and skip the secondo (main), if you just want a plate of simple pasta or something rather than a full multi-course meal. It’s often enough.
    And veggies beware, some places in Italy think it quite a strange practice to abstain from meat, so learn a few Italian words for meats so you know what to avoid.
    Oh, and don’t ask for a latte at a caffe unless you want milk. It’s caffe latte over there. πŸ™‚

      • Well, some of it might be obvious, but sometimes we fall foul of these things if we’re not familiar with them, like the three-tiered pricing you get at some bars, one price to order and drink at the bar, higher to sit down inside, and higher still if you sit outside…

      • One thing I’ve been reminded of recently: what’s obvious to one person may not be obvious to another. I’ve just read a post by someone who went to Italy with such high expectations, thinking it’s going to be all beautiful old buildings and delicious food and romance and whatnot, and was a bit let down when he also encountered stuff like traffic and dirt and suspicious characters. And, you know, for others it may seem obvious to expect some bad along with the good and to adjust expectations accordingly, but that may not be obvious to others, so every bit of info helps. πŸ™‚

        Or a food-related example: I’d read all these tips about how you can save if you order prix fixe meals instead of a la carte, so when I was in Europe, I kept ordering prix fixe meals until I realized…I can’t eat it all anyway. And I would be happily full with just a pasta dish (like you said) that cost only half what a prix fixe meal would. πŸ™‚ It seems obvious now but it wasn’t that obvious to me then. πŸ˜€ So…any and all tips welcome. πŸ™‚

      • There are shady characters everywhere there’s opportunity unfortunately. I’ve been very lucky that way. Only place I’ve really felt at risk was Marrakech. Mostly it was just pestilence I’m sure.
        As for Italy, there’s a nice blog on freshly pressed at the moment by a couple cycling. Take a look.

    • Sometimes there are so many tourists that it isn’t as haunting as it would have been otherwise, but if you make the effort you can still imagine what it might have been like in the past. Take the guided tour when you go to the Colosseum — it’ll get you past the really long queue, and it’s really helpful when there’s someone telling you the history of the place.

      • It’s only because cheapskate is my default mode and guided tours add to the expenses πŸ˜€ But I have to admit I’ve enjoyed probably all of the guided tours I’ve been on and they add such value to the travel experience that I’m definitely going to join more of them next time.

      • I usually look for a “ghost” or “haunted” walking tour. Not that I believe in it but the history side is so interesting & they’re always fun!! I’m kind of a cheapskate too but I make way for the walking tour and the bus tour. Though once on a walking tour some drunkish person was hangover over a patio yelling & swearing about how cheesy we were to be on a walking tour so I guess it’s not very “cool” but who cares!

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