Conquerin’ the Colosseum requires patience


Katie Dabroski, feature writer

I spent this year’s spring break in Rome, Italy. As you can imagine, it’s sort of a difficult to pick a favorite out of everything we saw there. We found our way to one of the great wonders of the world, the Colosseum, at about 9:30 in the morning but we wouldn’t actually step foot in it until many, many hours later. I’ll explain. If you go, take heed.

My dad found the ticket line fairly quickly, but we certainly did not get out of that line as quick as we got in it. My dad did most of the standing and I got a considerable amount of drawing done. We had paid for our tickets online beforehand, but we needed to get paper tickets for them to be valid.

Apparently my dad thought we had bought skip-the-line tickets, but we had somehow bought timed tickets. Meaning we finally got out of that line at 11:00 and had to come back at 2:00 – which was the time our tickets were for. So we decided to walk over to the Forum and check it out.

Rick Steve’s audio tour app gave us a nice little rundown of what was essentially ancient Rome’s central ‘downtown’, if you would. Although it appeared there wasn’t much to see because most of what was were now just scattered ruins. The Forum was still incredibly fascinating nonetheless. At about 1:45 we had explored what we could of the Forum and headed back over to the Colosseum to get into the line for our 2:30 tickets. We found the end of the line which appeared to be shorter than most lines for Six Flags rides. It also seemed to be moving at a regular-enough pace but, boy, were we incorrect … The lines were right outside the Colosseum’s walls, which was pretty awesome for the first two hours.

The area wasn’t entirely concrete, however, as there were two different little boulevard areas with grass and a few trees. My siblings and I did quite a bit of sitting under those trees. While Italy certainly isn’t the Bahamas and the temperature there wasn’t higher than 75 degrees while we were there, we were standing in line for seven hours under the very clear sky and blazing sun. Thankfully my mother, who plans ahead for most reasonable things, bought sunscreen beforehand. I still burned my neck, forehead and nose a bit.

If you didn’t know this about me; I fainted at my First Communion. I fainted twice after that. My person isn’t exactly stable under the conditions of A) smoldering hot weather and B) an empty stomach; and C) standing upright for half an hour straight. This particular day we happened to be standing in line for seven hours with no sustenance under the Italian sun. Having said that, however, I felt fine for most of that time line-waiting. Meaning my dad must be a war tank and I must have the endurance of a fruit fly. Us kids and occasionally our mom would take turns sitting down in the grass, but my dad stood in that line the entire time…A true Roman Warrior.

At about 3 p.m. we were finally at the gate where the security guards actually check your ticket and you get to stand in between the guardrails like an actual waiting line. These two American women tried to sneak on into the line at the gate with the rest of us. My dad is not the kind of person who snaps at waiters or is passive-aggressive to cashiers, but he also isn’t afraid to tell line jumpers where the back of the line is. Their “explanation” to the Security guy was that they had already stood in line for four hours and thought they could just slip on into the line for their 3:30 tickets and 3:00. Meanwhile the rest of us had tickets for 2:30 and were still not even close to the entrance at 3:00.

Finally after hours under the blazing sun, refusing to allow our 72 euro tickets go down the gross Italian street sewers, we could see the metal detectors from where we stood. At no later than 3:45 p.m. we were standing inside the Colosseum.

The wait really wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was an absurd amount of time of sweating and boredom, but it wasn’t a waiting line in Hell or anything. Having said that, however, we walked around the Colosseum for about 45 minutes. It was a really cool piece of history that we got to observe and stand inside of, but we were so incredibly starved and entirely over it, that we probably didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have if we only waited no less than four hours. We could also only walk so far as there was restoration construction going on and the floor of the arena was primarily covered by tents for the archaeologists digging up what they may.

We wandered through the small “museum” of trinkets and do-dads found within the arena; I got some cool pictures from inside and out, we crossed that site of the seeing list and practically sprinted across the street to shovel some pasta pesto in our mouths like a family of starving wolves.