The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum is easily one of the most recognisable landmarks in Italy. Outlined against blue skies, it looms over Piazza del Colossel, imposing and inviting in equal measures. Home to gladiatorial games, the Colosseum’s history is steeped in blood.

The amphitheater is a huge structure, capable of holding around 50,000 – 87,000 people and widely known for displays of public combat and slaughter of gladiators and animals for public entertainment. It’s one of those places that you absolutely have to visit if you are in Rome and Wandering Beeb’s love of all things resembling Roman ruins meant that it was one of the first places on our hit list when we arrived in Italy.

We had booked on to the evening tour in advance and paid the extra fee to take a trip down to the bottom floors, which aren’t always included on the standard visit. It’s well worth booking ahead as you get to skip some of the line (which can be fairly long) and are guaranteed a place on the limited evening tour.

One of the lower floors of the Colosseum

Inside, the structure feels bigger than its outside appearance and it’s much easier to make comparisons to more modern arenas, imagining crowds of people gathered to watch the latest entertainment.

From the bottom of the arena floor, looking up created a feeling of dizziness as each layer of the structure twisted away towards the sky. The layers underneath the main performance area were a warren of corridors, lined by the ruins of the cages where fighters and animals were held until their time on the arena floor. It was a very different view from the top of the arena, with huge arches creating a stunning silhouette.

The underground section for fighters and animals at the Colosseum

We learned on the tour that they flooded the arena on occasion to stage boat shows and battles – something I wasn’t aware of. It must have been an incredible site to watch – imagine that happening in an arena in today’s time – it would take huge mechanics to make that happen!

The tour was well organised and gave us plenty of time to wander round the ruins. Standing on the top floor, we could see over to the ruins of the Roman fort, giving a helicopter view of the site.

Inside the Colosseum

Today, the arena is sometimes used for concerts and opera performances. Unfortunately, on the day we went, there were no performances taking place, although it’s something that we’d definitely go back to see.

Tickets into the Colosseum can be booked here. An entrance ticket and the underground tour usually cost around £25 per person.

Don’t Blink!! The Bridge of Angels

The Angel statues of Castel Sant’ Angelo

If you watch Doctor Who, you’ll know that one of the most fearful enemies of the Doctor are the Weeping Angels (poor Amy Pond!). For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about, Weeping Angels are evil statues that move towards you when you aren’t looking, cast you back in time and feed off your energy. So you can imagine, as a bit of a Doctor Who fan, I was a little nervous heading down the pathway to Castel Sant’ Angelo, flanked by statues on every side.

Castel Sant’ Angelo (or Castle of the Holy Angel) was once used as a fortress, a prison, a mausoleum and an escape route for popes from the Vatican. It’s now a museum and, as Rome’s sights go, it’s probably not the most famous or the most alluring. However, I found the statue of the Angel high on the roof intriguing (too many Dan Brown novels) and the notorious history of the building swept us along for a quick visit.

The Bridge of Angels (or Ponte Sant’ Angelo) is made up of ten angels, all different and all stunning lining the walkway over the river Tiber. Wandering Beeb spent a huge amount of time getting just the right pictures of the Angels, helped out by sunny skies.

It was quite busy when we visited in Summer – if you want to get good photos without the additional tourists, it might be worth considering going along later in the year as the weather gets cooler. We have heard since that the bridge is beautiful at night and it is easy to imagine that the reflection of the lights on the water would be very picturesque. Our trip didn’t have time to visit at night but if we went back, I’m sure that it would be on the list.