• Ancient Rome Discovery Liz Brewster
  • Ancient Rome Discovery Liz Brewster
  • Ancient Rome Discovery Liz Brewster
  • Photo illustrating our Imperial Rome Walking Seminar 

Photo by Luigi Scuderi

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Walk Description

Lasting over one thousand years, the period of ancient Rome, with its many emperors, warriors, poets, and myths, can be tricky to understand. This Colosseum tour guides families through this terrain using activities and hands-on learning, and thus is an excellent starting point for any Roman adventure.

Our Ancient Rome Discovery walk brings families into the archaeological heart of the city where we will encounter the story of Romulus and Remus, the artistic and political achievements of the emperors, and the everyday lives of ancient Roman citizens. Centered around the Colosseum, our emphasis is on engaging the young people in the group and helping them frame and understand key concepts about ancient Rome. Our docent will help us explore the construction and history of this spectacular monument and paint a vivid picture of its history by using inquiry-based learning techniques to stimulate a lively discussion. (For more on our approach to family learning, see our Family Program description

If the stories of gladiators interest the group, we'll look into the Ludus Magnus: a training area for gladiators from which they would enter the Colosseum via an underground tunnel. This site, which we will observe from street level, offers an intriguing look into the everyday lives of the gladiators and is especially eye-opening for children.

Lastly, we'll stroll down the via dei Fori Imperiali and touch on the Imperial Fora, a string of open piazzas, temples, and other structures built by the emperor Augustus and his successors as Rome grew and expanded during its incredible rise in the Imperial period. To assist you in planning your Ancient Rome tour, we have created an informative resources page - How to Tour the Colosseum and Ancient Rome, which offers helpful advice.

In order to plan the best possible experience for your children, it would be helpful for us to know some background. Have they traveled to other countries? If so, where? Have they studied any subjects in school that would relate to the walk? Are they interested in art, music, even food? The more you can tell us, the better.

Due to the very interactive nature of this program and given the educational environment our docent aims to evoke, we adhere to a very strict maximum of 6 participants. Groups larger than 6 will need to book two separate walks that can run concurrently with different docents.

Duration: 2.5 hours
Category: Family Program
Venues: Colosseum
Additional Costs:
  • Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Ticket - $13

    Each participant aged 18 and older will need a ticket to the Colosseum. A Roma Pass can be used. If you intend to have one, simply remove this ticket from your cart.

  • Colosseum Ticket reservation fee - $2
  • Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Free Ticket - $0
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    Tom Rankin

    Tom Rankin came to Rome on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1991 after completing his architectural studies at Harvard. Tom was the founder of Scala Reale, an association of scholars leading small-group study walks that was acquired by Context in 2004. Currently Tom is dedicating himself to the fields of cultural and environmental sustainability, architecture and design through his teaching and his design firm TRA_20. He also directs the non-profit arts project Tevereterno.

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    Liz Brewster

    Liz Brewster, a native of San Francisco, California holds degrees in
    architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and the
    the Sapienza University of Rome. She specialized in restoration and urban design. She has been leading study walks for Context Rome since its earlier incarnation as Scala Reale and has lived in Rome since 1988 practicing architecture, researching design and lecturing at university study abroad programs.

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    Elisabeth Fuhrmann-Schembri

    Elisabeth Fuhrmann-Schembri has multiple advanced degrees in archaeology and classical studies. She has done studies in classical philology, specifically Latin, and ancient art history. A frequent lecturer and adjunct faculty at John Cabot University, Elisabeth is currently researching Etruscan cultures. She wrote her dissertation on Etruscan musical instruments and is an active member of Gruppo Archeologico del Territorio Cerite, a conservation organization in northern Lazio.

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    Patrizia Sfligiotti

    Patrizia Sfligiotti holds a Master's degree in Medieval archaeology and has studied at the Vatican and at the University of Aix-en-Provence. Her experience excavating in Rome is extensive, including major work at the Crypta Balbi in the 1990s, arguably the most significant archaeological excavation in central Rome in the last century. She works for FAI - Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano (Italian National Trust) as Rome's cultural attache. A dual citizen (USA and Italy), Patrizia is the author of the guidebook to Villa Gregoriana (Tivoli). She is an accomplished teacher and guide whose knowledge of the city of Rome (and passion) is boundless.

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    Linda Nolan

    Linda Nolan is an art historian whose research and teaching focuses on 16th-17th century Italian art and architecture, history of archaeology since the Renaissance, and the history of art collecting and museums. She received both the MA and PhD in art history from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Before moving to Rome, Linda worked as a researcher and museum educator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Linda received numerous awards and fellowships to support her research and travels, including ones from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Dorot Foundation of the Archaeological Institute of America, and the American Academy in Rome (Summer Archaeology Program). She has also excavated at both Pompeii and in the Roman Forum, and has experience in art conservation.

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    Valentina Follo

    Numbered among the city's contagious enthusiasts, Valentina is also a native Roman who trained as a classical archaeologist at the Sapienza University of Rome, before joining the University of Pennsylvania's graduate group of art & archaeology in the Mediterranean world. At present, she is conducting her doctoral research on the Capitolium, one of ancient Rome's most sacred and civically significant hills, which today exhibits Michelangelo's urban marvel. Valentina has written and published on a variety of topics spanning the ancient, early modern, and modern periods, including: papal designs to re-purpose the Baths of Diocletian, Etruscan forgeries from the nineteenth-century, Italian legislation on the protection of cultural patrimony, and Mussolini's imperial models for Fascist Rome. Valentina possesses years of experience engaging University of California students in the discovery of Italy's multi-layered past in Florence, Rome, and Pompeii.

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    Jose Grave de Peralta

    Jose Grave de Peralta brings an unusual combination of theoretical knowledge and practice to his walks. A professional fine artist and graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, known for its unique Great Books curriculum in classical liberal arts and philosophy, Jose knows how to “read” the almost forgotten language of the Greek and Roman mythology embedded in the art and architecture of Rome. His studies of Plato's dialogue, TIMAEUS, for example, open up dimensions of Raphael's School of Athens fresco and of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes otherwise unsuspected by visitors to these two sites. In addition, his own native Cuban background and master's degree in Spanish literature from the University of Delaware in Newark give his walks a Latin American flair and sense of humor that can be most welcome elements. Jose also studied fresco painting, history, and restoration at the Spinelli Institute of Art and Art Restoration, in Florence, and has been teaching freehand drawing in Rome, ever since he came to the city in August 2008 with the graduate students of the University of Miami School of Architecture.

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    Livia Galante

    Livia Galante obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

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    Simona Bracci

    Simona is a native Roman who completed her degree in archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome. She obtained her PhD in 2005 with a focus on the study of the topography of ancient Mesopotamian towns. She first arrived in Berlin in 2003 while writing her dissertation, and since then has divided her life between Rome and Berlin. Her interests vary between research activities (excavations, international congresses, and scientific publications) and teaching. In her university years she created a cultural association with some colleagues where she led tours in Rome and abroad, gaining a deep knowledge of archaeology in countries such as Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. In 2009 she became a Fellow of the Freie Universitaet in Berlin working on a project focused on the landscape in the Jazirah area (northern Syria) and started to collaborate with the German archaeological team working in Tell Fecheriye. She also developed a great interest for wine studies and in 2003 she earned a diploma as Wine Taster at the AIS (Associazione Italiana Sommerlier). Subsequently she organized and led tours with the AIS in Sicily and Piedmont and worked as a wine taster for their wine guidebook.

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    Alessandra Poli

    Alessandra is a native Roman and art historian with a Master's degree in art history from the Sapienza University of Rome. Her specialization is Modern and Contemporary art and she has a deep-rooted love for the city where she lives with her two children. Alessandra is fluent in Italian, English, and French, and has a great interest in Mannerism, Baroque art, colored antique marble and decorative arts. Due to her broad knowledge of the history of Rome she leads a wide-variety of antiquity-themed itineraries. Since 2001 she has been a consultant at the Galleria Colonna in Rome.

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    Laurie Kalb

    Laurie Kalb has lived and worked in Rome since 2006, when she moved here with her family from Cambridge, Massachusetts. An anthropologist and art historian with a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Laurie worked as a curator at museums in Santa Fe and Boston and served as a Fulbright consultant to museums in Southeast Asia before moving to Italy. She teaches Museum History and Theory of Rome for Temple University Rome and other study abroad programs, has collaborated with the Special Superintendence for Archaeology of the Ministry of Fine Arts in Italy, and is a Research Associate at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. As she takes students and travelers to museums, archaeological sites, villas, palaces, and churches throughout Italy, Laurie consistently experiences the joy of discovering something new at every place she visits.

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    Dony Ariza

    Dony holds an MA in Communication and Culture from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and a Ph.D in Art History from the University of Granada, Spain. He has lived and traveled extensively throughout Greece and the UK, where he researched Ancient Greek and Roman Art, delving deeply into Aesthetics. He has taught at the University of Faesa, in Brazil. There and in Spain he has enjoyed working as a media journalist, as well as for the radio. He is now based in Rome where he is currently working on his book about historical Roman musical personalities, which includes such characters as Nero and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina who was the Choirmaster at the Sistine Chapel.

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    Maria Stella Bottai

    Maria Stella is an art historian and a licensed guide with a Masters in Medieval and Modern Art History and a PhD in 19th and 20th century European art from the Sapienza University of Rome. She has worked for several years as an art teacher with children and teenagers and mis still involved in outreach projects tailored to the younger generation. Maria Stella is also very active on the contemporary art scene in Rome through her publications, and as a curator of a number of international exhibitions in the city and abroad.

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    Agostina Appetecchia

    Born in Rome, Agostina knew she wanted to become an archaeologist when she was just 10 years old. Since then she's gone on to obtain a PhD in Post-Classical Archaeology from the Sapienza University of Rome and an MA in Christian Archaeology from the Pontifical Institute for Christian Archaeology, the most important Vatican authority in this field. Her professional background in archaeology and history has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics such as monastic archaeology, digital methodologies in the investigation of archaeological contexts and building archaeology. In addition she has been Involved in several international projects in Sweden, Austria and the Vatican City State. She has studied some of the most important monuments in Rome including the Lateran Baptistery, Domitilla Catacombs and St. Paul's Basilica. Her articles have appeared in a number of selected scientific journals. She is currently working as a field director for the Italian "Soprintendenza" and publishing her PhD Dissertation on the first Benedictine monasteries in Italy. When she's not leading tours you can find her in her family farm where she produces organic olive oil, wine (she is a fine wine connoisseur), honey and jams. With an Italian grandmother who was a great chef, it was perhaps inevitable that she would eventually combine her own love for cooking with her interest in history: she is currently working on her book "Italian Traditional Mama-Cuisine."

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    Valeria Pugiotto

    After obtaining her degree in Literature at the Sapienza University of Rome, Valeria completed a Master's in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology at U.C. Berkeley where she received the A.H.M.A. Graduate Fellowship. Valeria came back to Europe and took a M Litt. in Modern History at the Oxford University, Oriel College. She can read documents in Latin (Classical, Medieval); Greek (Classical, New Testament); Egyptian (Hieroglyphics, Hieratic); Coptic; Hebrew; Aramaic; Hittite (Cuneiform); Linear B; Old Persian; Sogdian; Pahlavi; Parthian and Sumerian. She has extensive archeological field work experience, which includes working as a Site Director at the ‘Largo di Torre Argentina Project’, the excavation of the Ripafratta Castle, (Lucca) with the Università di Pisa-G.A.R., and the Tel Dor Excavation (Tel Dor, Israel), alongside a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1988, she was a representative of her University at the International Congress of Egyptology in Cairo, Egypt and she is also qualified in Book and Manuscript Conservation. When she was doing her Master's at Berkeley, she taught Italian Language and Literature as and, at Oxford, she taught History to undergraduates. She has been working as a tour Guide since 2006.