Walk Description

Lasting 1000 years, the period of ancient Rome, with its many emperors, warriors, poets, and myths, can be tricky to understand. This walk is designed to give families an entry point for grappling with Roman antiquity, and thus is an excellent starting point for any Roman adventure.

Ancient Rome Discovery brings families into the archaeological heart of Rome where we encounter the stories of Romulus and Remus, the artistic and political achievements of the emperors, and the everyday lives of ancient Roman citizens. Centered around the Colosseum, the emphasis is on engaging with the young people in the group and helping them begin to frame and understand some key concepts about ancient Rome.

We begin with the Colosseum, emblematic of Roman engineering prowess and social complexity. This site, often the most iconic for children, presents a great starting point to delve into the lives of ancient Romans. We will take our time here, while our docent helps us explore the construction and history of this spectacular space, painting a vivid picture of its history and encouraging lively discussion between children and adults by using inquiry-based learning techniques. (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 have entered 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, as they can draw mental pictures of the ancient training area.

Lastly, we'll stroll down the via dei Fori Imperiali and touch on the Imperial Fora, a string of open plazas and 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. These magnificent structures culminate in the Forum and Markets of Trajan, where the past and present intertwine to bring history alive in ways that are only possible in Rome. Although we won't have time to enter the markets of Trajan, we'll discuss them along with Trajan's column and the rest of the archaeological sites in this area.

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 a lot of different pieces of 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, but with different docents.

Duration: 2.5 hours
Category: Family Program
Venues: Colosseum
Additional Costs:
  • Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Ticket - €12.00

    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 - €0.60
  • Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Free Ticket - €0.00
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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
    University of Rome "La Sapienza" specializing 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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    Alvaro Higueras

    Alvaro is an Italo-peruvian archaeologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (1996). He learned archaeology in Peru and had a 15-year period of excavations in Peru and Bolivia before moving to the Old World. He has been an archaeology professor in India and Eritrea, and then a cultural manager in Kosovo and Bosnia. In Bosnia he has also conducted forensic excavations, as well as studies in provincial Roman villages and cemeteries. He resided in Rome from 2006-9 where he worked as a consultant in cultural management, focusing mainly in the \\"museum\\" potential of open spaces (parks and areas with architectural remains of Roman times). He also taught at the American University of Rome
    and was an active docent here at Context. In Vancouver BC since 2009 he teaches at Simon Fraser University; he returns periodically to Rome to teach at AUR and continue his exploration of the city along with our visitors.

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    Linda Nolan

    Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Linda first came to Rome as an
    undergraduate to study fine arts and art history. To learn more about artistic techniques, Linda participated in art conservation
    internships in Chicago, IL, and Lugano, Switzerland. Dreams of being an archaeologist led Linda to excavate at Pompeii, the Roman Forum, and Etruscan sites in Tuscany. She received an M.A. in Classical Roman Art and PhD in 16th and 17th century Italian art at USC in Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, Linda also worked as a researcher and educator at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Her love of archaeology, Renaissance sculpture, and visiting the sacred sites of Rome inspired her PhD dissertation about physical forms of devotion shown towards objects in Roman churches, including the famous “Mouth of Truth,” at S. Maria in Cosmedin, Michelangelo’s Christ sculpture in S. Maria sopra Minerva, and the bronze S. Peter statue in S. Peter’s Basilica. Linda received fellowships to support her travels and research, including ones from the Dorot Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. She is currently continuing her research on St. Peter’s Basilica, collecting of antiquities, and the reception of Michelangelo. When not leading people through the museums and churches of Rome for Context, Linda also teaches for study abroad programs in Rome. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the countryside of Italy on the back of her husband’s motorcycle, combing the vintage markets for unusual beautiful things, colloborating with her artist husband, cooking Mexican food for her Italian and American ex-pat friends, and taking advantage of the great music scene found in Rome and other parts of Italy.

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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 University of Rome, "La Sapienza", 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 University of Rome "La Sapienza," 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 guests coming from abroad.

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    Ismini Miliaresis

    Ismini Miliaresis is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia in the Classical Art and Archaeology Program, and she is currently residing in Rome to complete her dissertation work. As both an archaeologist and a civil engineer, her studies focus on the heating systems of ancient Roman baths at Ostia. She grew up in Naples, but went to an American school, so she speaks both English and Italian fluently. Ismini has traveled extensively through large parts of the Roman Empire, and she is excited to share her knowledge with visitors of all ages.

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    Katarzyna Parys

    Originally from Warsaw (Poland), Katarzyna Parys holds Master’s degrees in history and in Italian studies, both from the University of Warsaw. She’s been living in Rome for three years, married to an Italian husband, but her acquaintance with the city had begun many years before, during several private and university visits. Granted a scholarship by Italian Government she came to Rome in 2009 to research ancient Christian worship in Rome. In her studies she had to combine many disciplines, like history, liturgy, topography, archeology and art history of late antique and medieval Rome. All this makes the religious history of Rome from 1st until XVIth century have no mysteries for her.

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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 in 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. Here and in Spain he has also enjoyed working as a media journalist, including for the radio. He is now based in Rome where he is currently working on his book about historical musical personalities in Rome, which includes such characters as Nero and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Choirmaster for the Sistine Chapel.

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    Agostina Appetecchia

    Born in Rome, Agostina decided to become an archaeologist since the age of 10, obtaining afterwards a PhD in Post-Classical Archaeology from the "Sapienza" - University of Rome and a 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 for the investigation of archaeological contexts, building archaeology. Involved in several international projects (Sweden, Austria, Vatican City State), she had the opportunity to study some of the most important monuments in Rome as the Lateran Baptistery, Domitilla Catacombs or 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 could find her in the 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 should 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 Laurea in Lettere at the Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’ Valeria completed a M.A. 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 University of Oxford, Oriel College. She can proudly 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 an 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 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 M.A. at Berkeley, she taught Italian Language and Literature as GSI (Graduate Student Instructor), and, at Oxford, she taught History to undergraduates. She has been working as a tour Guide since 2006.