Summer Vacation in Rome – the Roman Coliseum

Travel planners considering a Roman holiday need to keep this in mind: It is very, very hot in this part of Italy, and very, very crowded in this part of Italy, in the summer. Frequent pitstops for gelato in Rome are recommended for a summer family vacation. Furthermore, while off-the-beaten-track sites are a great alternative to heavily trafficked, “top 10” types of tourist attractions, a first-time vacation in Rome really necessitates battling the crowds to spend some time in those top travel attractions in Rome. We got up bright and early to head over to the Roman Coliseum. All this years of seeing the Coliseum in movies and in photos didn’t prepare us for being there. Or me, at least; I embarrassed my daughters by weeping a little. It was that moving.

Roman Coliseum, Italy Summer Vacation Photos (Jennifer Miner)

We have over a thousand summer vacation photographs taken in Italy (and London). What with the Roman Coliseum being one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and what with it being more iconic to the city than any other attraction (unless you count the Vatican, which is actually its own city), the first photos from this family summer travel experience almost demand to be of the Coliseum. My emotional reaction notwithstanding!

Inside the Roman Coliseum (Jennifer Miner)

The interior of the Coliseum in Rome has this maze-like appearance because during the Roman Empire, the wild animals (lions and other big beasts imported from Africa, etc) slaves and gladiators would wait below the main staging area until it was their time to be “on stage.” This heightened the theatricality of the events. This photo of the Coliseum also shows the seating arrangements in the amphitheater. The emperors and vestal virgins had the best seats, while senators and rich merchants sat somewhat higher up, and the poor people of Rome basically had to scrunch together at the very top — the ancient equivalent of the nosebleed sections.

Summer Vacation Photo Rome Coliseum (Jennifer Miner)

The above photo of the Roman Coliseum gives a pretty good sense of the amphitheater’s scope. The stage floor here is a modern example of what the entire base would have looked like to Romans back in the year 80 AD. Sand covered the floor, so that gladiators wouldn’t slip and fall. Animals roaring, gladiators clashing, spectators cheering — standing in the Coliseum on a hot summer day, it’s not difficult to imagine the sounds, the smells, and the humanity of 50,000 excited Romans crowded in the heat of the day to watch the drama unfold. The sense of spectacle is easily conjured, even while dealing with tourists during the peak travel season in Italy.

Ancient Graffiti in Roman Coliseum (Jennifer Miner)

The experience of walking through such an incredible, ancient part of the world can be overwhelming. Children on a family vacation in Rome may not always be able to appreciate the enormity of the Coliseum’s significance (it may be later, when reminiscing over vacation photos, that they really “get” it). What they almost always can appreciate, though, is signs that kids in days past felt the same way. There’s quite a lot of graffiti, right at kids’ eye level, on some walls. The Roman Coliseum has been a major international tourist attraction for centuries, of course, and seeing what some other child carved into the wall when his parents dragged him to Rome in the 1800’s for his own edifying travel experience, brightened my own kids’ days.

Kids inside the Roman Coliseum, summer vacation photos (Jennifer Miner)

Despite the heat and the embarrassment of an emotionally wrought mother, my kids had a great time seeing the Roman Coliseum. It was a highlight of our summer vacation in Italy.



Every month the Travel Blog Mob comes together around a common theme. This month, Summer Vacation Photos has been the impetus for some wonderful photo-based travel posts.

Wandering Educators: Top 10 Beach Towns on Michigan’s Sunset Coast

Boots n All: Our Best Days Ever

Traveling with MJ: Italian Vacation: Gondolas in Venice

Spot Cool Stuff: 3 Cool Ways to Share Photos While You Travel

Ciao Bambino: Italy Beach Vacation with Kids

7 Responses to “Summer Vacation in Rome – the Roman Coliseum”

  1. 1

    Your post definitely brought back memories of our trip there last summer, it was July and again, super HOT!… and we ate tons of gelato to try to keep somewhat cool. Great thing is though, you don’t put on a pound cause of the heat, so we guess it evens itself out! :-) We were happy, but what an experience hey?

    Thank you for the great blog details…a definite good read “before” someone visits, to have a sense of what they are looking at and to have better appreciation for the structure!

    Nancy & Shawn

  2. 2

    I love this post, and the pictures, particularly because we didn’t go inside the Coliseum. I can’t remember why, but think it was because we wanted to spend a lot of time in the Forum next door, which would be less interesting to kids, I’m sure. Hint: Sunday is a great day to visit because the main road leading to the Coliseum is closed off and you can wander at will. And there were costumed Roman soldiers out there for photo opps!

  3. 3

    what a WONDERFUL article – and happy memories!

  4. 4

    I love this post! Partly because now I know I wasn’t the only one who teared up entering the Coliseum. Ha! It was almost too much for me to wrap my head around, although I had to get it together quick because we only had about 10 minutes to explore before closing time. (Poor planning on my part – we had a wayyyy too short trip to Rome.) Definitely wasn’t enough time to catch the little details, like your graffiti! Mahalo for sharing! =)

  5. 5
    Lisa says:

    I love Rome and the Coliseum is one of my favorites too.

  6. 6
    Bob says:

    Wow the Coliseum really is something else! Can’t wait to make it to Rome one day. I’m already trying to learn a bit of Italian on my iPhone haha! Great blog :)

  7. 7
    Donna Hull says:

    On my visit to the Coliseum, artists were setting up for some type of concert. There were cables and wires everywhere. I so wanted to attend. But it did disturb me a bit to think that such a major historical site was being used in that way. Yet, imagine what it must have been like on a cool fall evening to sit in the Coliseum as beautiful music (I guess it would have been beautiful – I don’t know who was performing) filled the air. A much better sound than screeching animals and human wails during Roman times.

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