Author Archives: Viator

Take Viator With You – Download Our Insider’s Guide to Rome

At Viator, our goal has always been to help travelers find the best things to see and do around the world. Our team of travel insiders handpicks every tour, our mobile apps keep you connected on the go, and our blogs bring you tips and advice from real locals. Now you can also download our Insider’s Guide to Rome so you can have our best recommendations at your fingertips – even when you don’t have a wifi connection.

In this guide, our local insiders share their top recommendations for the best things to see and do in Rome, including tips on avoiding the crowds at the most popular landmarks and museums; how to shop, eat, and drink like a local; and some of the coolest activities and attractions you’ve never heard of!

We’ve handpicked the very best of what makes Rome so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Rome!

Rome has earned its ancient nickname of The Eternal City – no matter how many places in Italy vie for our attention, there’s no city that compares to Rome. Here you can walk the same streets that Caesar once walked, then turn a corner to see how modern Romans live alongside the city’s historic splendor. The vastness of Rome encompasses everything from the epicenter of the once-mighty Roman Empire to the smallest independent nation on earth – but this city won’t truly grab your heart until you get past the must-see list and dig a little deeper into its neighborhoods. Watch artisans at work, sit with locals enjoying their afternoon coffee, and explore the cracks between the attractions. That’s where the charm lies.

Download the guide here!

Take Viator With You – Download Our Insider’s Guide to Rome from Viator Rome

Roma – Night Tour

Italy is always an attractive destination for those looking for a culture high. Italy’s most culturally and historically rich city is arguably Rome, so, a tour of Rome’s most attractive sites had to be on the to-do list. More importantly, to avoid the heat and crowds of daytime, we chose to take the tour in the evening. Over the course of the evening, we visited most of the greatest sites Rome had to offer, with a knowledgeable guide to tell us the stories and facts about each of our stops, an immersive experience of the Roman and Ancient Roman culture, history and architecture.

Colosseum – one of the many architectural wonders of Rome

Colosseum – one of the many architectural wonders of Rome

The tour started in an inviting little wine bar called Antica Enoteca just off Piazza di Spagna, greeted with a glass of wine and a variety of appetisers to munch on while we waited for the rest of the guests.

Our first stop was the Spanish Steps also known as the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti; a minute’s walk away from the wine bar. Before telling us about the steps, our guide started off by telling us the story of Romulus and Remus and the wolf mother, a story that represents the very foundation of the Roman Empire and is depicted on the coat of arms painted across official vehicles, like the police car parked up by the Steps. Although the surface of the Steps were almost entirely covered by tourists, it was interesting to learn of the rich Spanish history of Italy, with their embassy facing the Steps, looking up towards the Trinità dei Monti church.

Tourist-heavy Spanish Steps

Tourist-heavy Spanish Steps

After a brief explanation and description of the papal coat of arms, located on almost every important building in Rome including the Spanish embassy, we moved on through the narrow streets away from the central area, which had been mostly populated by high street boutiques.

Spanish Embassy

Spanish Embassy

Before long we reached the famous Trevi Fountain in almost all of its splendour, save for the lack of water and presence of scaffolding due to its restoration. Still, a bridge had been placed to circumvent the scaffolding and reach the most well illuminated parts of the gigantic structure of the fountain; it really is much bigger and more intricately detailed in real life. Given the narrow nature of the overpass, a police officer was keen to usher us away to keep the queues moving, so, picture ops were on a time-constraint.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Moving on, we reached one of two of the structures I had personally been looking forward to seeing the most: the Pantheon. I had never realised it was in a square surrounded by buildings, but it remained absolutely colossal in size. We were told that only 2 of the pillars were the original ones but seeing as the renovations were done some centuries ago, it was impossible to tell. More interestingly though, was the fact that modern Rome was built on top of Ancient Rome. So, rather than strip down ancient Rome they thought, ‘Here’s an idea. Let’s just leave all that there and build on top of everything’, so that’s exactly what they did. It turns out, the Pantheon was originally built on top of a hill, with steps leading up to it, and now it’s level with the rest of modern Rome.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Round the back of the enormous structure, you can see bits and pieces (mostly rocks) of what Ancient Rome might have looked like thousands of years ago. Near there lies the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in the Piazza della Minerva, in front of which stands a statue of a man riding an elephant whose backside facing the nearby monastery serves as an overt insult to the church who commissioned the statue, and with whom the sculptor had had some disagreements as a result.

Our next stop was a transition in transport, from foot to bus. The air-conditioned coach drove us West to the Vatican City first, where we were driven right up through the walls of the city and as close as we could get to St Peters square and the world renowned San Basilica. Seeing it at night was a nice change, and like the rest of the Rome, it was appropriately illuminated, albeit impossible to do it photographic justice with a night shot through a coach window (but I returned there the following evening and took a picture from where the coach was).

We drove through the most expensive neighbourhood of Rome to reach the highest lookout point where we able to get off the coach and witness a panoramic view of Rome. Our attention was directed to what is known as the “Wedding cake”, a layered monument so saturated with statues, it actually looks like a cake (its actual name is Altare della Patria or “Altar of the Fatherland”).

The Wedding Cake

The Wedding Cake

We ended up driving passed it on Piazza Venezia on the way to our final stop: the aptly named Collosseum. Probably more fascinating on the outside, the Collosseum was the part I was looking forward to the most, and it didn’t disappoint. The lighting at night was a real treat, and it was difficult to get my eyes out of my camera lens. The overcast skies actually gave it an even more epic look.

The colossal Colosseum

The colossal Colosseum

The guide left us there with the information we needed to get back to the hotel and just enough time to grab a gelato on the way! A very informative tour, and an excellent way to see the highlights of Rome without taking up precious time during the day, especially for those on a pit-stop length trip through the Capital.

-Stephanie Clayton

Roma – Night Tour from Viator Rome

Espresso, Gelato and Tiramisu in Rome

Espresso, gelato and tiramisu. Nothing says Italy quite like the sweeter side of the country famous for their culinary delights. With the assistance of our local guide we walked around the city eating and drinking like a Roman. With so many options in a city the size of Rome it’s best to go with someone who knows.

Coffee Photo Collages 2 (1)

When in Rome.

To drink coffee like a true Roman you need to be on your feet. Coffee isn’t taken at a cafe leisurely, but at a bar usually on the go. Unique to Italy the coffee bar has no chairs, just a counter lined with espresso machines serving cups of the potent brown stuff. Our guide explains to us the typical Italian will have about four espressos per day from a shop like the one she took us to. We visited one of the landmark coffee bars in the city for a unique coffee treat. We ordered a granite di caffe, where espresso and ice are blended and then topped with whipped cream. The bitterness of the espresso combines on the spoon with the cream to make a perfect bite. It was a nice way to beat the July heat and start our food filled tour of Rome.

Coffee Tour Photo Collages

Some espresso to give us energy for the tour.

Our next stop on the tour continues the cooling trend with another famous Italian food, gelato. Our guide explained that just like coffee there is a particular way Italians eat their ice cream too. Similar to ice cream only in temperature, Italian gelato is made with only a few simple ingredients. There are a few things to look for when picking a gelato shop and basically bigger is not always better. Starting with the amount of flavors, if a shop has hundreds it’s probably not all fresh. Also the showy displays where the gelato stands high above the tub is not natural. The towering gelato either has additives in it, or you are just paying for extra air that was whipped in. Either way we learned bigger isn’t better when it comes to gelato.

Gelato and Coffee Photo Collages

So many fantastic flavors.

The shop where we have our sample fits all the criteria. We even got to watch the owner hard at work in the kitchen making fresh batches of gelato.

Rome Gelato and Espresso Tour-20

An incredible finish to the tour.

Along the way our guide brings us to a few more hotspots for both gelato and espresso before our final stop of the night. To finish the evening we make our way to the locally famous Pompi tiramisu shop. All they make is tiramisu and the line is out the door. We ordered three of their most popular flavors and dug in. The original coffee cream is what put the shop on the map, but the banana cream wasn’t bad either. To conclude the tour we took the last of our treats and enjoyed while sitting on the nearby Spanish steps. The night left us full and feeling like a Roman, at least for a few days.

– Contributed by Hannah Lukaszewicz

Espresso, Gelato and Tiramisu in Rome from Viator Rome

Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour From Rome

What can I say about Tuscany, or what can be said about Tuscany that hasn’t been said already; it is the epitome of a romantic getaway.  You’ll fall in love with the warm rolling hills full of vines, the olive trees, the warm-hearted people, the stone cobbled streets and the wine. Yes, all the wine – there are over 9,000 vines in Italy and Tuscany is renowned for its wines, which I experienced on a one-day Tuscany sightseeing tour from Rome.


The stunningly situated village of Montepulciano.

Our first stop was Montepulciano, a step back in time and an odd mix of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. We walked around the main streets of town, stopping to explore inside the Santa Maria Assunta Church. We admired the Florentine style clock tower in the Palazzo Comunale, also known for being “Twilight Square” (if you’re a fan of those movies it’s where the Voltorri live).  Perched high up on the hillside, Montepulciano was the perfect introductory spot as you could easily gaze out over the rooftops towards the endless green Tuscan countryside.


Cute little car to match a cute little town.

After, we hopped back on the bus to our next stop, the picture perfect Sant’ Antimo Abbey, a beautiful Romanesque church nestled among the various orchards and wineries. In its time, this 9th century church was one of the most powerful monasteries in the region. We arrived just in time for the hymns. Hearing the voices perfectly harmonized among the halls, amplified and echoing like it was built to do before speakers were invented was simply magical. Also, through the hymns no filming or photos were allowed, so you were forced to just listen.

Sant' Antimo Abbey-3

Sant’ Antimo is just gorgeous.

Our lunch spot was in the town of Montalcino. A traditional Tuscan lunch, it consisted of cured meats, bruschetta, pasta, various cheese and homemade olive oil along with an excellent wine tasting. We dined at the Poggio IL CASTELLARE wine cellar and here we sampled one white and four red wines from the Montepulciano and Montalcino region, including an exquisite five-year-old Brunello di Montalcino, a consistently top-ranking wine in Wine Spectator. Each glass was drank down to the last drop, all with a newfound love of Sangiovese grapes. If you’re lucky enough to be beside the wine bottles when the tastings finish, you’ll score a little bit extra for your glass.


Pienza was the perfect traditional Italian experience.

Our last stop was the small two-street town of Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designed in the 14th century by Pope Pius II. Flowers, boutique shops, hill side views, Pienza has it all.  This is also where the famous Pecorino cheese is produced, sampled by all those adventurous enough to try a strong cheese made of sheep’s milk. I was not one of those brave souls unfortunately, but that will be something left for you to try.  Nearing the end of the afternoon as a little pick-up treat before heading back into Rome, we made sure to grab a couple scoops of gelato; I went with stracciatella and hazelnut — the perfect way to end a fantastic tour and a very enjoyable way to experience the Tuscany countryside for a day.


The beautiful Pienza.

– Contributed by Nadine Sykora

Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour From Rome from Viator Rome

Ancient Rome in One Day: Touring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill

One of the most iconic landmarks in the world is the Colosseum of Rome. Even with all of the amazing buildings in Rome the Colosseum embodies the Roman Empire and culture better than any other. Walking the ancient corridors where gladiators fought their epic battles is definitely a bucket-list activity. We got our chance to step back into time and explore the arena with Viator on their Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour. In addition to the Colosseum we also toured the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the House of the Vestal Virgins.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Our journey around the city started on a hilltop looking down on the Colosseum, which was the first stop in the city. Originally built by the emperor Flavian in 80 AD, walking through the arches is like stepping into a time machine. Most of us only know what the movies have told us about the gladiators, but there is more to the story. Our guide Alexandria filled in the details as we walked through the massive hallways craved from travertine.

Touring the Colosseum

Touring the Colosseum

The first thing that is never explained are the stands where the people of Rome sat to watch the games. She explain there was no charge to watch the games, but tickets were passed out according to social classes. People of power had front row seats for the carnage, while the common folk sat high in the 2nd and 3rd rows. The other difference in perception is the arena floor. To the spectators it would have looked like a simple flat sand surface. However, the sand was spread out over wooden planks that covered a maze of walls below the sand. These walls served as barracks for the salves that were to fight. It wasn’t just the slaves down there, it was a temporary prison for criminals whose punishment it would be to fight for their lives. If that wasn’t enough, exotic animals, brought from Africa, also lived below the arena surface. To add excitement trap doors would release tigers, leopards, and lions out into the arena to attack or be killed by the gladiators. Seeing the site in person was amazing, but also gave perspective on the brutality of the gladiator life. The violent nature was the eventual down fall of sport and arena in the 6th century.

Heading over to the Palatine

Heading over to the Palatine

From the Colosseum we made our way toward the Palatine on the opposite hill across from the arena. The area overlooking the Colosseum in roman times was reserved for the emperor. Our guide explained our walk around the city as a walk through the centuries. Rome was the center of the western world for several centuries and has the ruins and dirt to prove it. Alexandria explained that over the centuries the level of Rome has risen significantly. She used the analogy, “Rome is like a lasagna” meaning different periods of time and civilizations are covered by different amounts of dirt. So it’s the task of archeologists to uncover the ruins and put the stories back together, like in the Roman forum and many other sites around the city.

Roman ruins

Roman ruins

Another piece of Rome’s landscape is how adept the people of the city were at reusing materials from older civilizations. Which unfortunately is the reason that some things have been lost forever. I couldn’t help but think while walking through the roman forum what it must have looked like in all its glory. According to archeologists there were structures several city blocks long, carved out of white marble. The courtyards were full of elaborately carved stone statues and fountains. It must have be such an incredible place.

All that's left

All that’s left

Rome is an amazing place even today, but it must have been a sight in its prime two thousand years ago.

-Contributed by Hannah Lukaszewicz

Ancient Rome in One Day: Touring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill from Viator Rome

Exploring the Food of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere

Though Italian cuisine has long been admired as one of the pinnacles of gastronomical achievement, the Romans are not especially famed for their efforts. Typically, Roman food is seen as rather plain, as it is based on uncomplicated sauces and often opts for a minimalist approach to things such as pasta and pizza; for example, pizza bianca has no toppings like tomato sauce or cheese, which may sound to some like a grave crime on the palate. However, to dismiss it without investigating it further would be a mistake, especially because of the varied influences on the local cuisine, among which one of the most notable is Jewish culture from the oldest Jewish ghetto in Europe. This piece of history piqued my curiosity, and I resolved to go on the food tour of Rome’s Jewish area as well as the buzzing area of Trastevere (which literally means “across the Tiber,” the river that goes through the city).


Even the sign was charming.

I meet Flavia, our tour guide, and the others going on the tour (almost all Aussies!) at 9 a.m. at the Piazza Farnese after running across the city for fear of being late — an activity bound to ensure that your appetite is awakened, believe me — and, after some introductions, we make our way to the famous Campo de Fiori market. There, Flavia shows us around and points out some of the things we will be eating, such as fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers) and guanciale (smoked pork cheeks). After filling our water bottles at one of the many fountains in the city — you have to love Italy for that, and especially Rome, which has over 2,000 — we go into an old grocer’s for a tasting. It starts with mozzarella di buffala (buffalo mozzarella), which blows everyone’s mind with its creaminess and intensity of flavour, far removed from the tasteless industrial rubber we’re all accustomed to. Flavia mentions that it is made from the milk of buffalos from Lazio, the state in which Rome is situated, confirming that this is good, local produce. We also taste salami and pecorino, the latter of which is essential to many Roman dishes, as it is grated on top of pasta instead of sauce and salt.


A great selection of foods and a wonderful way to begin the tour.

Having whet our appetite, we pop just sround the corner to a forno (bakery) for some piazza bianca with mortadella, a processed ham with pistachio and olive pieces, served in a sandwich form. It doesn’t tantalise the senses in quite the same way as the tastings just before, but it certainly fills a gap. We then move on for a bit of a walk around while we talk amongst ourselves and with Flavia, who is very affable and happens to be going to my hometown in a few weeks, giving me a chance to return the favour and give her some food tips. We stop to admire Pasticceria il Boccione, the legendary Jewish bakery famous for its ricotta and sour cherry pie … though it is not part of the food tour per se, a couple of us go in to get a slice for later. Edit from the future: I highly recommend that you try this.


A foodie’s dream.

June is not treating us well and it starts to pour with rain just as we dive into the next place for some supplí (fried rice balls like arancini, but with tomato sauce inside, Roman-style) and the delicious fiori di zucca fritta alla romana (fried zucchini flowers). They’re both deep fried and one of each per person is enough. Then, braving the rain after a hopeful but unsuccessful wait for it to pass, we cross the river to Trastevere and go to a rustic restaurant for some bucatini all’amatriciana, a pasta with a sauce made from tomato and pig’s cheek, which gives the dish a strong, smokey flavour. We wash it down with some wine and just chat and relax, all the while bombarding Flavia with our questions.


Incredible flavors.

The next and final stop is a gelateria on Via della Lungaretta, notable for its multiple single-origin chocolate flavours. After tasting them all, I opt for the darkest, most intense flavour. I am not usually a chocolate ice-cream kind of man, but this caught my eye and it is indeed a cut above the rest. It is with happy faces and pleasantly full stomachs that we say bye to each other and Flavia, and go our separate ways to explore the city.

– Contributed by Joe Wareham

Exploring the Food of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere from Viator Rome

Save 10 Percent in Rome

Save 10 percent in Rome, when you spend $450 USD or equivalent value!*

With our exclusive deal, when you spend at least $450 USD* on tours in Rome, you will save 10 percent on your shopping cart.  This special promotion ends on October 22, 2014, so book now!

Visit the Things To Do page in Rome for all of our exciting tours and activities.  Visit top attractions including the Vatican and the Colosseum, take a day trip to see Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, or discover Rome’s hidden sites on a tour of underground catacombs.

This special promotion ends on October 22, 2014, so book now!

Rome day trips sale

*Spend 450USD, 275GBP, 500AUD, 500CAD, 350EUR, 575NZD and save 10 percent.

Please note this offer is available for new transactions only and cannot be applied to any existing bookings. This offer is not valid on mobile applications or mobile websites.  Offer excludes Multi-day tours. 

- Viator Travel Team

Save 10 Percent in Rome from Viator Rome

Ancient Ostia Antica Day Tour from Rome

The ruins of Ostia Antica

The ruins of Ostia Antica

Our tour guide, Rebecca, told us, ‘Ostia Antica is the better Pompeii,’ which is not as farfetched as it sounds. Just 19 miles west of Rome, Ostia Antica is certainly more accessible. Our small group tour of Ostia Antica from Rome met at the Ostiense train station for the easy 30-minute train ride to the site. The tragic story of Pompeii is more compelling with the violent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, but the city of Ostia Antica actually does a better job of presenting a typical Roman town. Unlike Pompeii, Ostia Antica suffered no natural disaster. The inhabitants left Ostia Antica voluntarily to avoid malaria and a dwindling economy. Eventually, the ghost town was buried (intact) beneath tons of silt from the nearby Tiber River, creating a dream dig for archaeologists. Ostia Antica is also more tranquil than Pompeii and much greener with lots of shade from numerous umbrella pines (aka ‘broccoli trees’).

In its 9th c. heyday, Ostia Antica was the main port and trading center for the city of Rome, a cosmopolitan place with 50,000 residents including many Jews and foreigners. Although modeled after Rome, this was a town of middle class business people, prosperous and comfortable but not ostentatious.

The theater at Ostia Antica

The theater at Ostia Antica

We walked down the main thoroughfare, the Decumanus Maximus, which was lined with paving stones, some exhibiting wheel ruts made by thousands of Roman carts. We visited the theater, one of the most popular spots in Ostia Antica, where the dramas were so realistic that during the murder scenes, they actually killed criminals on stage (switching out the actor for the criminal at the last moment). And we think our reality TV is shocking!

The Tavola Calda

The Tavola Calda

Rebecca was an excellent and enthusiastic guide who led us to many of her favorite corners of the 120+ acre site making the tour very personal and unique. She led us to the Tavola Calda (hot table) that looked like a cafeteria-style eatery still in use today.  Here, a selection of hot dishes was placed on a heated tile countertop for the patrons. Strangely, the best hidden gem was the laundry, virtually intact with large rinsing basins. It is believed that children agitated the clothing via foot power (similar to stomping grapes). This was bone-breaking work made even more distasteful because the Romans used urine to bleach their togas sparkling white!

The House of Diana apartments

The House of Diana apartments

One of the loveliest structures was an early apartment house called the House of Diana, built of fashionable red brick. The Romans actually invented the apartment as a way to house their burgeoning population. Nearby, what looked like a garden of buried amphorae contained dozens of clay vessels used to store wine. The Romans experimented with ways to preserve wine, even adding blood and lead to prevent spoilage. But wine literally saved their lives. When the Romans conquered other parts of the world, they brought their wine with them and mixed it with the local water, killing any deadly foreign bacteria.

The communal toilet room

The communal toilet room

The Forum was the most impressive part of town with a temple raised on a hill and an elaborate bath complex that even included a steam room. An estimated 300 gallons of water were pumped into the city every day to support the baths. These baths, that were available to everyone at no charge, were much more than just a place to wash up.  Patrons could get a massage, a haircut, and most importantly, get caught up on the latest gossip. Our most amusing stop was the communal toilet room, a place where Roman men would come to chat and conduct business.

The temple in Ostia Antica's Forum

The temple in Ostia Antica’s Forum

At the conclusion of our tour, we were given our return train tickets with the option to catch a later train back to Rome if we wanted more time on the site. Back in Rome, I ate a late lunch at a Tavola Calda that looked remarkably similar to the ancient one I had just seen in Ostia Antica. As French journalist Alphonse Karr once said, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’

-Contributed by Anne Supsic

Ancient Ostia Antica Day Tour from Rome from Viator Rome

A Tour of Ancient Rome and the Colosseum

The magnificent Colosseum

The magnificent Colosseum

I first saw the Colosseum almost 20 years ago, but at that time, no one was allowed inside. So when I returned to Rome this year, one of my top priorities was to enter this magnificent structure and see it all: from the underground chambers to the top tier.

Our Ancient Rome and Colosseum Tour began across the street from the Colosseum where we gazed at the stunning ruin and listened (on handy headsets) as our guide, Alessia, explained that this land was originally part of the gardens of Nero’s Palace.  The Colosseum derives its name from a colossal statue of Nero that once stood here.  After Nero’s death, the Romans tried to wipe out his memory by altering the statue turning it into a generic Sun God. The Romans also drained the lake in Nero’s garden, creating the perfect location for this arena.

Fifteen thousand slaves spent the better part of a decade erecting this monument dedicated to entertainment. One of the reasons Romans loved the Colosseum so much was that admission was free!  Entertainments were actually an integral part of every emperor’s propaganda campaign; a way to keep the people happy and keep himself in power. (The games kept people’s minds off plotting to overthrow the empire.) In 80 AD, Emperor Vespasian celebrated the opening of the Colosseum by offering 100 days of games involving 5,000 beasts (all free of charge, of course).

A view of the Vestal Virgin apartments

A view of the Vestal Virgin apartments

Following that introduction, we headed for Rome’s ‘downtown’ and nucleus of city life, the Roman Forum. The Forum had it all: the Senate for the politicos, the courts for all legal actions, the best markets for the shopaholics, and the temples where priests administered to the spiritual needs of Rome. The only actual residents of the Forum were the Vestal Virgins who lived in special, isolated apartments. Girls joined the order as 6-year-olds and remained until age thirty (when they were too old to reproduce). These girls came only from the wealthiest patrician families, and it was considered quite an honor to have a Vestal in the family. Being a Vestal Virgin was serious business – if a Vestal Virgin was caught fooling around, the man was executed, and the ‘virgin’ was buried alive.

Private playground of the wealthy on Palatine Hill

Private playground of the wealthy on Palatine Hill

Next, we strolled up to the rural-feeling Palatine Hill where the wealthiest Romans lived in villas surrounded by flowering trees and fountains. The rich folks even had their own private ‘playground’ to watch athletes compete in various games including chariot races.

View from the arena floor

View from the arena floor

At last, we headed for the highlight of the tour: the inside of the Colosseum.  The entranceway was a madhouse of frantic tourists, but once inside, Alessia led us into a quiet section of the arena floor for a heart-stopping view of the indoor seating that once held 70,000 spectators.  I looked around and realized that our small group had this amazing space all to ourselves.

In the cavernous underground

In the cavernous underground

We descended below for our special access to the separate world of the underground chambers. This was the place where exotic animals, and of course, gladiators waited for their grand entrance into the arena. The entertainments were carefully orchestrated with an elaborate system of elevators and trap doors that allowed fierce animals or heroic gladiators to suddenly pop out on the arena floor. Everything was designed to wow the audience and keep them coming back for more.

Top down view of the Colosseum

Top down view of the Colosseum

We ended our tour by climbing several sets of stairs to the top tier. The effort was well worth it as we stood alone on the terrace with plenty of time to absorb a top down perspective of the inside of the arena and gaze outside for sweeping views of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Now I could truly say I had seen this ancient wonder inside and out!

-Contributed by Anne Supsic

A Tour of Ancient Rome and the Colosseum from Viator Rome

[CONTEST] Win 2 tickets for a Viator VIP tour of the Sistine Chapel!

This month, one lucky traveler will win 2 tickets for a Viator VIP tour of the Sistne Chapel. Read on to find out more…


About the tour

Viator VIP: Sistine Chapel Private Viewing and Small-Group Tour of the Vatican’s Secret Rooms

See the Vatican as VIPs do – with this once-in-a-lifetime private Sistine Chapel viewing and tour of the Vatican Museum’s secret rooms. This exclusive gives you unprecedented VIP access to the magnificent rooms that are usually off-limits to the public, allowing you to see a side of the Vatican that most never will. Be awed by secret rooms like the Niccoline Chapel and the Room of Gold, and see sights like Raphael’s Rooms.

Due to a new Vatican partnership, this tour provides VIP access through a reserved door, allowing you to skip all the lines – even the priority lines. End your tour with an after-hours private viewing of the Sistine Chapel, empty except for your group (average 15 people) and guide. Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel – including The Creation of Adam – is considered the most influential fresco in the history of Western art. See it with no crowds, linger over every detail, and earn one-of-a-kind bragging rights for the rest of your life!

How to enter

To enter to win two Viator VIP Sistine Chapel tickets, visit our Facebook and select the “Contest” tab. Tell us in 10 words or fewer “Why you want to go on this tour” and hit the “submit” button to be entered into the contest.

The contest closes on April 24, 2015– so hurry!

- Viator Travel Team

Terms and Conditions: No purchase is necessary to enter. Must be 18 or older to enter. Our staff will pick the entry that we think best answers the question above. One winner will be awarded 2 free tickets for a Viator VIP: Sistine Chapel Private Viewing and Small-Group Tour of the Vatican’s Secret Room. Tickets must be used by December 30, 2015. Airfare, taxes, and any other expenses not specifically listed above are not included. Prizes are non-transferable and cannot be sold or redeemed for any cash value.

[CONTEST] Win 2 tickets for a Viator VIP tour of the Sistine Chapel! from Viator Rome