Be a traveller, not a tourist
Why visit Ancient Rome? The answer is simple: unless you discover the history of the Eternal City, exploring its ancient ruins and monuments in-depth, you’ll come away with only a superficial understanding of Rome. You don’t want to be one of those tourists – blindly taking photos, mixing up the Colosseum with the Theatre of Marcellus, never having more than a vague idea of what you’re looking at. If you book a guided tour of Rome with an archaeologist, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Rome on a deeper level, discovering the layers of ancient history that are inseparable from the modern city.
Visit Ancient Rome: the Colosseum and the ancient city centre
The obvious place to begin your Ancient Rome tour is the Colosseum. While this vast amphitheatre never fails to impress, it takes a more in-depth visit in the company of an expert to truly appreciate its remarkable history. Your personal guide can point out fascinating archaeological details, such as the tunnels beneath the arena floor, and explain the engineering behind the spectacular gladiatorial games. Then continue your journey back in time with a walk through the magnificent ruins of the Roman Forum – the political centre of Ancient Rome – and the imperial estate on the Palatine Hill to learn where and when Ancient Rome started. According to legend, the Palatine is where the city of Rome began, as the place where Romulus and Remus were raised by the she-wolf, and so a Palatine tour is vital for understanding the history and legends of the city.
Going off the beaten path
When you visit Ancient Rome you should also take the opportunity to explore some lesser-known sites, away from the tourist trail. Despite its location close to the Colosseum, the newly re-opened Domus Aurea (Nero’s Palace) tends to get overlooked by most tourists. This sprawling labyrinth of underground ruins contains the remains of Nero’s luxurious pleasure palace, and is perhaps the most atmospheric archaeological site in Rome. Exploring the ruins in the company of an archaeologist is a real adventure, giving you a sense of what it must be like to be the first one to discover and excavate the ruins.
On your tour of Ancient Rome we also recommend visiting the Baths of Caracalla (the vast remains of Roman thermal baths near Circus Maximus) and the Appian Way. A bike ride along the ancient cobblestones of the Appian Way is the perfect way to learn about the history of Ancient Rome, through visits to ancient tombs and mausoleums and a tour of Villa dei Quintilli, a country estate that once belonged to the Emperor Commodus.
Discovering Ancient Rome in museums
After you’ve visited the key archaeological sites, it’s worth visiting at least a few of the most important museums in Rome, which contain fascinating artworks and artefacts. You can visit Ancient Rome through a trip to the Capitoline Museums, learning about Roman history and mythology as you admire some of the most famous statues in antiquity, or through a Vatican Museums tour. Some of the finest works are on display in Palazzo Massimo, such as the spectacular garden frescoes of the Villa of Livia, or the moving statue of the Boxer at Rest.
Accompanied by an expert archaeologist from Roads to Rome, you’ll discover that the key to understanding Rome lies in its archaeology. Excavation work in Rome is on-going, which makes an archaeologist guide the perfect person to reveal the connections between past and present…
Read more: recent excavation work in Rome uncovers “Pompei-like scene” (The Guardian)