• Photo by Luigi Scuderi

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  • Roma Antica walk led by an historian. 

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  • Ruins on the Palatine Hill

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  • Roma Antica walk led by an historian.

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  • Docent Cecilia Martini takes clients through a seminar in the Colosseum.

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Walk Description

This four-hour walking seminar takes us into the archaeological core of the city, focusing on three key monuments: the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum. Led by an archaeologist or classical historian, this is the most in-depth of our tours of the Colosseum in Rome and uses the ruins of the ancient city as a backdrop for discussing the rise of the Roman empire, the political intrigues of emperors, and the daily life of commoners. Since our docent is a trained scholar, we’ll also use our time together to discuss the role of archaeology in history and learn how to read the ruins in order to reconstruct the ancient city. As much more than just a Colosseum tour, this seminar provides some of the basic tools to put ancient Rome into context.

  • Led by an archaeologist or classical historian.
  • Includes the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill.
  • Detailed explanation of ancient Roman politics, society, and empire.

An in-depth approach

Depending on the individual docent’s approach, we might start the walk either at the Palatine Hill or at the Colosseum. On the Palatine Hill, we will explore the first stages of the city and the legend of its founding in 753 B.C. (on April 21, to be exact) by Romulus. After covering the founding myths and anthropological record of the Palatine, we explore the imperial palaces that eventually covered the hill. If time and interest allows, we usually stop in the Palatine museum to learn about Roman statuary and, when possible, make a special visit to one of the archaeological sites normally closed to visitors. We will linger for a while among the ruins of the Palatine, as from here one gets a very good introduction to archaeological technique, Roman architecture and construction technologies, and Roman political and social structure. From here, we will explore the remnants of the aqueduct of Claudius and take in vistas of the Roman Forum that illustrate the palimpsest nature of the city.

During the walk

While in the Forum, we will focus on a series of discussions that will carry us down the Via Sacra (the main street of ancient Rome), and past the major sites that crowded the city center, including the Curia (senate house) and the temples, triumphal arches, and basilicas around the Forum Square. Depending on the specialization of the docent, we may linger in front of the House of the Vestal Virgins, or the Basilica of Maxentius, or the game boards etched into the steps of the Basilica Giulia. There are tens of thousands of fascinating details to focus upon in the Forum; and based on the interests of the group, our docent will pick apart a few salient ones to help us get a perspective on the history of this area.

From the Roman Forum we exit by the Mamertine Prison and take in the Imperial Fora, a series of interlocking public spaces constructed during Rome's "Imperial Era," perhaps as a way of remaking the old, republican city into a new Emperor-ruled theocratic state.

At the Colosseum, where we will either start or end the walk (again, depending on the docent’s approach), we will discuss Roman public spectacle and decadence. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum is a marvel of ancient engineering and construction. Gladiatorial fights, wild beast hunts, and mock sea battles all contributed to the spectacle that played an important role in the social life of ancient Rome. We will explore these themes in detail, separating fact from fiction in one of the most visited sites in Rome.

Take aways

At the end of our walk, we will have a deeper knowledge of ancient Rome—its emperors, its history, and its feats of engineering. The Roma Antica walk is also a perfect way to begin a visit to Rome: the archaeology of the Palatine, Forum, and Colosseum only serves to whet the appetite for the feast of monuments that awaits us throughout the city. It provides a nice foundation for more thematic explorations of ancient Rome, such as our Caesar and Empire tour.


Since fall 2013 the Colosseum has been undergoing renovations to its exterior and interior. This is a three-year project that will clean the site, rebuild the exterior arches and reportedly open 25 percent more of the Colosseum's tunnels and cages to tourists. Throughout this period, some areas might become closed off to the public without any notice. Our docents will make sure you safely navigate the site and make the most out of the experience. It's an exciting time to be seeing the Colosseum!

To assist you in planning your Ancient Rome tour, we have created an informative resources page - Guide to touring the Colosseum and Ancient Rome

This walk does overlap with our The Colosseum and Imperial Rome tour, as they both visit the Colosseum. Therefore, we suggest clients book one or the other, but not both.

Duration: 4 hours
Category: Archaeology
Venues: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill
Additional Costs:
  • Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum Ticket - $13

    Each participant aged 18 and older will need a ticket to the archaeological sites. 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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    Cecilia Martini

    Cecilia Martini has a Master's degree in Medieval and Renaissance art from the Sapienza University of Rome. Although her specialty is painting and decorative arts, she has a broad knowledge of the history of Rome, and leads many antiquity-themed itineraries. Cecilia works actively as a curator of exhibitions and lecturer and is a frequent consultant with the Galleria Colonna. She also has a specialized teaching degree, and works as a visiting professor in several art institutes.

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    Sara Magister

    Sara Magister has a master's in art history and a doctorate (PhD) in archaeology from the University of Rome. A native Roman, Sara has worked as the archaeological editor for the Italian national Encyclopedia. She also works as a consultant for the Vatican Museums and the former minister of culture, designing museum exhibitions and supporting the restoration of monuments with archive research. She is also currently working as a professor in the American University in Rome, teaching Baroque Art and Subjects and Symbols in Art. One of Sara's interests is the political use of ancient art during the Renaissance and Baroque and Pope Julius II's collection of ancient art, which forms the core of the Vatican's collection of ancient statuary.

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    Giovanna Terzulli

    Giovanna Terzulli is an art historian and Rome native. She has a Master's degree in art history from the Sapienza University of Rome with a specialization in Modern and Medieval art. She works as an editorial consultant for a number of cultural organizations in Rome including the Superintendency of Archaeology of Rome. Giovanna is fluent in Italian (mother tongue), English, and French, and has a unique interest in Mannerism.

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    olivia ercoli

    Olivia Ercoli is a Rome licensed guide and an expert art historian and worked as a main contributor to the award-winning Eyewitness Guide to Rome. She combines this with teaching and leads a course at the the Lorenzo de Medici School in Rome on Roman civilization. In addition she has contributed to the National Geographic Lost Cities of the Ancient World. Olivia infuses her discussion of Rome with a sense of what it's like to grow up in the city and be Roman.

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    Richard Bowen

    Originally from England, Richard Bowen has lived in Rome for the last fourteen years. He holds a Master's degree in medieval and twentieth-century history from London University and, as this might suggest, has a broad-minded and synthetic approach to understanding Rome. Richard works quite frequently with institutional travel organizations, such as museums and church organizations, and as a result spends much of his time traveling all over Europe. He brings this cosmopolitan and pan-European experience to bear on his work with us in Rome, constantly making connections to other cities and countries in the course of his lectures and seminars.

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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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    Francesca Barberini

    Francesca Barberini is an art historian with a degree in modern and contemporary art from the Sapienza University of Rome. She specializes in the art and culture of the Baroque period, a subject on which she has published several essays. She is a licensed guide and leads itineraries all over Rome, a city she truly loves. She has worked for many Roman museums, such as Galleria Doria Pamphili, Galleria Colonna, Galleria Spada, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini and the Corsini Gallery. She is an officilal guide of the Vatican Museums and Vatican City

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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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    Alessandro Celani

    Alessandro is an archaeologist and art historian, and studied Greek and Roman archaeology with Mario Torelli and Filippo Coarelli. He has published his undergraduate thesis on “Greek Works of Art in the Age of Augustus,” as well as a number of articles on Greek and Roman art. An expert in cultures and civilizations of the Mediterranean, Alessandro has traveled from Morocco to Iran, participated in excavation programs in southern Italy and Greece, and lived in Athens for a long period. He has collaborated with travel magazines, published a guide book on the Greek Islands, and is currently publishing his PhD dissertation on Hellenistic Sculpture of Rome and Central Italy. A booklet of photos and short poems written by him was recently published with the title “Diario mediterraneo” (Mediterranean Journal). He gives tours in Umbria and Rome, lectures for public and private associations, and leads archaeological trips to Greece, Turkey, Libya, and North Africa, and teaches archaeology and art history in American and Canadian universities in Rome, Tuscany, and Perugia. He has two children, Sofia and Dario, and recently opened a B&B in Umbria.

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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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    Elisabetta Interdonato

    Elisabetta is a native Roman with a PhD in Classical Archaeology. After obtaining her degree in Roman archaeology, she completed a Masters about Roman Provinces and an Italian-French Ph.D about the archaeology of sacred spaces and rituals in Eastern Greece during Greek and Roman times. Since 1995 she has taken part in archaeological excavations in Rome, south Italy, Sicily, Turkey and Greece. She has been awarded with German, French and British post-lauream and post-doctoral Research Fellowships, spending time in the different countries. For the past four years she has been a visiting professor at the University of Brittany and currently she is lecturer for American colleges in Rome and for an Italian university, where she teaches Masters and Monuments of Rome and Greek and Roman Archaeology and History of Art. She has authored several scientific papers, participated in international conferences, and has curated an exhibition in Rome. She is currently working toward the publication of her dissertation. Since 2001 she has worked on didactic projects and guiding in Rome and in the Middle East, where she worked as an Archaeological Tour guide in Lybia, Syria, and Israel.

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    Agnes Crawford

    Brought up within sight of London's Roman walls, Agnes then strayed north of Hadrian's Wall to Edinburgh University. After graduating with an Master's in Architectural History, with a specific focus on the Early Renaissance, she came to Rome drawn by warmer climes, ruins, and the prospect of a Vespa. Eleven years, and one Roman husband, later she's still here. As well as being a licensed guide for the City and Province of Rome, she contributes to numerous guide books, and every so often translates academic art historical and archeological papers from Italian to English.

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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.

  • Margherita Capponi

    Margherita is an archaeologist, and specialized at the Sapienza University of Rome where her thesis focused on numismatics. She spent many years participating in digs related to Prehistoric Roman, Medieval, and Modern archaeology across Italy. Being a Roman, growing up in this city made her want to know more about the past and being a natural story-teller, Margherita's educational background and talents combined to begin leading walking seminars with travelers. With years of experience as a guide in Rome and abroad, Margherita has developed a strong sense of other cultures. She is passionate about opening up the ancient world and making it relevant to the lives of her clients.

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    Guido Airoldi

    Guido is an archaeologist who completed his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has years of experience in major digs in Italy and throughout the Middle East, and is a specialist in egyptology. He is a natural teacher, and has been giving detailed seminar walks in the archaeological sites of Rome as well as the Vatican for years.

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    Fiorenza Mancuso

    Fiorenza Mancuso holds a Master's degree in art history from the University of Rome, and an additional graduate degree in the management of cultural events. A native Roman, Fiorenza possesses extensive experience doing on-site teaching for a variety of cultural associations in Italy, and is an expert in the art and patrimony of Papal Rome.

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    Annalivia Villa

    Annalivia Villa holds a Masters in art history from the Sapienza University of Rome, with a specialization in Renaissance painting and history, including daily life in the 1600s. She wrote her thesis on Raphael's decoration of the Papal bathroom in the Vatican residence. Annalivia is a native Roman whose roots go back decades. Her grandfather was one of the Palatine honour guards of the Pope. In addition to teaching (in which she holds an additional graduate degree) and lecturing, Annalivia also works for the Modern Art Gallery of the Municipality of Rome.

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    Simona Pellegrini

    Simona Pellegrini is a Roman archaeologist specialized in the Late Imperial and Middle Ages periods. She graduated in Archaeology and Ancient History from the Sapienza University of Rome and subsequently obtained her higher degree in Restoration and Heritage preservation. Currently she works as field director on excavations and restorations for the Superintendency of Rome and Latium (Ministry of Cultural Heritage). She is also deeply involved in an international project (CNR) the scope of which is the application of high technology to artefact conservation and ancient structure preservation.

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    Sabrina Spinazze

    Sabrina graduated in Art History at the Sapienza University of Rome and went onto complete a postgraduate degree in History of Medieval and Modern Art. Since 1993 she has worked for some of the most important art museums in Rome, such as the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. She is very active on the publishing side; her papers and books focus on 19th and 20th century Roman art, in particular on the history of female artists and art’s politics of Fascism. She is vice president of Ottocento Romano, a cultural association pursuing and promoting scholarly research on the Roman artistic production of the XIX century.

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    Antonella Merletto

    Antonella holds a Master's Degree in Baroque Architecture and a three year Post Graduate Specialisation in Ancient Greek and Roman Architecture. She is currently completing her PhD at Bath University in the UK on Ancient Roman Sanitation Buildings. Since 1989 she has worked on many archaeological digs in Greece and has published archaeological drawings of many notable buildings and historical areas such as the Serapeium, the Canopus and the Cento Camerelle of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, the map of Late Antiquity Athens, mosaics and buildings of Kos (Greece) and Gortys (Crete-Greece). From1997 she has worked on educational projects in Rome and in the Middle East, where she worked as Archaeological Tour guide up to 2003 in Lybia, Jordan, and Iran. She has published academic articles on Ancient sanitation and translates academic archeological papers from Italian to English. She settled in Rome and fell in love with its beauty, its art, architecture and historical complexity in the mid1990's and became a Licensed Tour Guide of the Eternal City in 2001. Since 2003 she is Adjunct Professor at American Colleges in Rome, teaching History of Art, Archaeology and History of Architecture.

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    Rossella Licata

    Maria Rossella Licata, originally from Rome, holds a history of art degree from the University of Rome, and a Master's in conservation and cultural management from the University of Siena. She has worked as a researcher, historian and conservator at a number of prestigious institutions around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In addition to English and Italian, Rossella speaks Spanish and is studying Portuguese. Her interests encompass Restoration to medieval illumination to the effects of time on patina. Although she never tires of talking about artists and paintings with enthusiastic visitors, her passions now include taking care of her six-month-old baby.

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    Simona Olivetti

    Simona is a native Roman. She holds a Master's degree in Art History and a PhD in Medieval and Modern Art from the University of Rome. She is a licensed tour guide of Rome and she has worked as a teacher in many Italian High Schools. She is a consultant and a tour guide for various cultural organizations, companies which organize art exhibitions and some Italian Ministries. Simona lived in Finland for three years and cooperated with the Italian Cultural Institute of Helsinki. She is mother tongue Italian and fluent in English and Spanish. Simona really feels at home at the Vatican, having always studied there and published about it, focusing on the XV and XVI centuries of art.

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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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    Roberta Bernabei

    Roberta Bernabei is an Art Historian and Art Critic. She has a Degree in Art History from the Sapienza University of Rome and a postgraduate degree from the School of Specialization in Archaeology and Art History at the University of Siena. She is an independent curator and journalist and is enrolled in AICA International Association of Art Critics. As well as this she is an licensed Roman tour guide. She collaborates with several publishing houses including Electa, Mondadori, Poligrafico dello Stato, Editalia, and Rizzoli. Sheis also an author of many books and articles about the art and the history of Rome, Italian art, contemporary art and the history of American art. She curates many art exhibitions in Italy and abroad and is also the President of the EOS Cultural Association, pursuing and promoting art history and culture in the city of Rome.

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    Giulia Facchin

    Giulia is an archaeologist, she earned a PhD in Archaeology and History of the urban landscape of Rome. She regularly takes part in archaeological field work and academic projects aimed to research and discover our History. She is a licensed guide of Rome. And loves her job because she can reach a wider public, she enjoys explaining and sharing knowledge and ideas about the past and the present Human condition. As an Historian she is fascinated by the city of Rome, and how with its 3000 and more years of history, it grew and expanded over the centuries, re-using, transforming and destroying its past. She likes to share this passion and knowledge with all her clients. She is also a musician and graduated as pianist.

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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."