Rome was a Republic during the first half of its glory days and ruled basically by Senators. The second half was an empire and ruled by unelected emperors -- a ton of them in a small time frame because they mostly got killed.
Today's Rome is a big, modern city littered with ancient ruins. You can walk out of a subway station and find yourself staring at marble ruins that date back to 500 BC.
When you visit Rome, of course one of the top attractions will be Ancient Rome, The Roman Forum. We paid for an audio guided tour for this because I thought it would be so helpful to hear about all the ruins. However, I'm not sure I'd recommend that for you. By taking a tour .....
we had to rush through the ruins and we didn't have much time for photos and explorations. Also, even though the audio tour comes with ear buds, I still couldn't hear my guide much of the time. I was bummed by my tour. Totally let down.
Walking through the Roman Forum, you'll walk on the same road they walked on 2,000 years ago - the Via Sacra - Sacred Way. It's amazing.
The Via Sacra led through Ancient Rome from the Palatine Hill and Arch of Septimius across to the Arch of Titus near the Colosseum. At it's peak, Ancient Rome boasted a population of over one million. Now you'll feel like one million is still there - but all tourists and all right there beside you.
You'll walk right through the area where Mark Antony began his famous speech "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears...." That was right here in the Forum after Caesar's death.
You'll also see the place Caesar's body was burned at the turning point for the government -- Republic to Imperial rule.
If I get back to Rome, I will go through the ancient area without a tour guide, take my time both for photos and to meditate on what went before me. Below is a picture I took of the ruins of a 5th century pagan temple.
The Colosseum is part of Ancient Rome, but is outside the Roman Forum area. My first glimpse of it was at night, absolutely magical..... until the bike protest came through.
You don't need to pay a price to walk around the outside of the Colosseum, but you pay a price to enter it and you pay a different price to enter the Roman Forum part of Ancient Rome where the Via Sacra is located.
The area around the Colosseum is touristy -- horse and carriage rides, dudes dressed like Roman soldiers, drink and souvenir carts, etc. It's packed and noisy. It's one of the major subway stops.
Just before dark everything closes and this becomes a great area to walk around quietly, to talk about your day, to sit on the grassy slope and make your plans for the night.
Pay the price to get inside the Colosseum. Our ear bud audio tour included the Colosseum, but again, I didn't hear the tour guide much and she went at a pace that was faster than I'd like.
Back in the day, the Colosseum could seat 50,000 and would entertain the masses with gladiators, criminals and animals fighting to the death. They would be out of sight roaming these tunnels under a wooden floor. Half the wooden floor is shown here, half is removed so we can view the passageways below.
When in Rome, take the time and pay the price for both Ancient Rome and the Colosseum. The Circus Maximus is right around the corner - within walking distance - and is free, you should also go there. It's become a park for dog walkers and joggers, but it's still crazy to see ruins of where they held chariot races.
You can tour all three of these places in just one full day. Then head over to the Jewish Ghetto for an evening stroll along the Tiber River ...
... and a nice dinner outside on a terrace with live music.