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Colosseum Underground?

Is the Colosseum underground area great and we shouldn't miss it? Or not a big deal?

We have a verbal agreement with one of the RS recommended guides to tour us through the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine, etc. But after agreeing to use her, I discovered she does not have formal tour guide status, so we need to purchase her ticket. Not a big deal. But then I learned about the underground, and we kind of want to do that. We learned you can only do that with a tour guide. So I mentioned it to her, and she said not to get that kind of ticket. Presumably since she can't take us there.

We're still a month out, so I don't think it would be putting her in a bind to cancel her and go another route. But is including the underground worth making that change? I'm not sure what to do.

Posted by
133 posts

The underground area is well worth it - in fact it was a favorite part of our visit to the Colosseum. It's pretty spectacular to see the original spaces and details under the floor of the Colosseum.

Posted by
66 posts

Thanks. That's what I wondered. Ugh, I'm not sure what to do. I hate to cancel someone who I'm sure is a great guide for this reason. But I also hate to miss out on part of the experience because she has lack of access.

Posted by
24 posts

My daughter and I had a tour that included the Colosseum underground which we found very interesting and worth visiting. But if I had to choose between a great guide and the underground, I'd choose the guide. The underground tour will be but a small portion of your overall tour if you are bundling it together with the rest of the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine, etc.

Posted by
12480 posts

... I discovered she does not have formal tour guide status

Hmmm. I'll defer to the others who are authorities on this subject but it was my understanding that anyone acting as a guide - meaning imparting historical, artistic, archeological, etc, information - MUST be formally licensed to professionally perform that role in Italy?

Just asking the question as there was a long thread about that subject last year:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/difference-between-a-tour-manager-a-tour-guide-requirements-in-italy

Posted by
40 posts

I just returned from a 15 day tour in Italy. While in Rome we did the Colosseum night tour with Walks. We met near Capitoline Hill and walked past the sites down to the Colosseum. An additional Colosseum guide met us and brought us through the Underground Dungeon area. A brand new walkway has been added that allows you to walk through the area of the dungeons. We then went onto the Gladiator floor. It was a beautiful September night and there were only about 12 of us on the gladiator floor inside the Colosseum. A very memorable night indeed.

Posted by
52 posts

I had asked the guide we have booked next month if she could guide us through the underground tour, and she said she could but that we should get a free guide ticket for her at the time we book our tickets. I've been checking daily and it looks like they are only booking 30 days in advance and the underground tickets seem to go quickly.

Posted by
2584 posts

I discovered she does not have formal tour guide status, so we need
to purchase her ticket.

In some sites, formal guide status is needed to do a tour. Not sure of how that works at the Colosseum. My guide at Pompeii yelled at someone acting as a guide without the official Pompeii guide credential, creating an uncomfortable moment for the guide and her guest.

Posted by
66 posts

Kathy and Dave, that is exactly my concern. This guide is a RS tour guide. But from what I'm gathering, she's one that tours a group through their whole trip but hands the group over to a specialist when they get to a site that uses a specific guide. Know what I mean? Thanks for the link, Kathy. I'll take a look.

Your Colosseum tour sounds amazing, Catchulater!

Diana, I asked our guide about that free guide ticket and she said it's not for her because she isn't licensed.

So I think I'm going to cancel with the one we were going to use. I contacted another one RS recommends who I know does the specific tours at sites around Rome. He is licensed to go into the various sites as a guide. He said the tickets are released one day at a time, 30 days in advance, and that guide companies scoop them up quickly to sell at huge rate hikes. Tomorrow we are 30 days out from the day we want to do this tour. He is going to try to grab tickets for us first thing in the morning and then we will use him. I just feel better about using a real licensed guide in a venue like this. I'm sure the other guide is great for a general tour through the city, but that's not what we need.

Thanks, all, for helping me think this through!

Posted by
2584 posts

I think you are making a very good decision.

Posted by
66 posts

So the guide wasn't able to grab tickets for the underground tour this morning. Crazy that they allow the guide companies to grab them all! We could buy a tour from a group like that for 125 euros plus each, but I'd rather stick with this new guide. That's definitely a huge markup! We bought the tickets that include the arena floor. He said you can see down into the underground from there. I think that will be good enough, and I feel much better about having this type of guide!

Posted by
12480 posts

I know it sounds like a lot but considering this $120.00 p.p. tour....

https://www.walksofitaly.com/rome-tours/colosseum-underground-tours/

... is a nearly 4-hour, small-group tour of the Colosseum, underground, Forum and Palatine - including tickets that cost € 34.00 on coopculture JUST for a 75-minute Colosseum + underground tour - is not such a bad deal.

But I'm really glad you got the arrangement you wanted! I saw the Colosseum twice before the underground was even available and was fine peering into it from above! :O)

Posted by
66 posts

I think if there were only two of us, it would be a better deal to do a tour like this with a group. But since there are four of us, it comes out cheaper to hire a private guide for 4 hours. I think either way would be great, so neither choice will be bad.

I do like traveling with 4 rather than 2 for prices of guides, cabs vs bus, etc.!

Posted by
1 posts

Sounds like a great plan. We will be in Rome next May with a group of 8. Please let me know who you are using as a quite.

Posted by
12480 posts

I do like traveling with 4 rather than 2 for prices of guides, cabs vs
bus, etc.!

For sure, guide and driver prices spread over more versus less can be a good deal!
Have a great time in one of my favorite cities! :O)