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Craziness at the Colosseum

Tom Rankin is an architect and teacher in Rome. I picked this up off of his Facebook page this morning. Sounds like the Italians have made it damn hard to visit the Colosseum complex. I doubt anything will be done about the resellers so this will become much like The Last Supper and the only way to get tickets will be through a third party. Glad we saw it years ago so no need to go through this craziness.

Tom’s Story:

A practical update on anyone planning on visiting the Rome's Parco Archeologico del Colosseo (the Forum/Palatine/Colosseum sites) these days. Since I have been there repeatedly of late, I hope I can help others avoid headaches.
It's hopeless to purchase tickets online for upcoming weeks; they have all been snatched up illegally by resellers. This doesn't mean no tickets are available though. If you go to the ticket offices, at the Colosseum, Palatine, Arch of Titus, or Forum at 8:30 am you will probably be able to get tickets with a short wait. The ticket windows should open at 8:30 but really open a bit later so don't cut your timing too close.
Wherever and whenever you get your ticket you will be given a timed entry for the Colosseum, usually about 1/2- 1 hour later, which means you can't go through the Forum/Palatine first and then finish later with the Colosseum when it is cooler and less crowded. Nor can you a request a later entry. You take what they give you.
If you only want to see the Forum and Palatine, meaning you are enlightened enough to know how over-rated the interior of the Colosseum is, you have to pay more. The Foro/Palatino Super Ticket costs €16 instead of the €12 for the Foro/Palatino/Colosseum. True it gets you into some special areas (mostly the ones that used to be open for everyone years ago). But to take advantage of this you need to be lucky or plan carefully; the houses of Augustus and Livia and the Domus Transitorio have timed entries, only in the morning, and Santa Maria Antiqua and Domitian's ramp are only open in the afternoon. Some super sites are closed Mondays, the Transitorio and its impressive Augmented Reality show is open only Friday-Monday, for maximum 7 people at a time, and other variations pop up all the time.

Sometimes the only thing you can actually use the "super ticket for is the Palatine Museum, nice but not exceptional.

While those really interested might want to get the Super ticket and stay all day to see all the sites you pay extra for, remember you can't leave and come back, there's nowhere to eat inside the site, and even picnicking is prohibited (although I doubt they enforce that).

My latest discovery? Today when I went at 8:30 to the Palatine to buy tickets for three benefactors of the Horrea Agrippiana dig I was told the limit was two tickets per person. To buy the third ticket I had to wait in line again.

At 10:00 am on a Saturday, about 30 people (probably 10 "parties") in line ahead of me at the Forum entrance, it took 45 minutes to reach the window. Why so slow? Because nowhere is there information about the timed entries, the limitations on numbers, the different kinds of tickets, the audioguides. Each person gets to the window and undergoes a lengthy consultation which could have been avoided by proper signage. The only saving grace: an employee of CoopCulture wandered the line ready to help bewildered travelers patiently, clearly, and in several languages. A true hero, I wish I had got his name.

I have yet to really experiment with the new entry at Trajan's Column which now connects the Imperial Fora to the Roman Forum. I asked for information the other day at the ticket office there and, after a lengthy, convoluted explanation (this tickets works here, not there, but if you have that ticket you can get in there and come here...but not into the Colosseum which requires another ticket...) I had to interrupt her and move on.

Posted by
3980 posts

Oh Laurel this sounds bad and very Italian. We were able to snag 2 standard tickets for our upcoming August trip. I hope after security there won’t be more “special restrictions”. Where are the days when you could just stroll through the Forum?

Posted by
1986 posts

Where are the days when you could just stroll through the Forum?

Probably the same place where you could just show up to see the Alhambra. With the population growing and more and more people traveling, the days of just showing up on a whim are gone. Tickets are going to be mandatory almost everywhere.

Posted by
15975 posts

A blessing on your head, Laurel.

I've just about thrown in the towel trying to keep abreast of the CONSTANT changes to the coopculture website and unraveling the long, long list (in confusing language) of options + staggered ticket releases to try and help the folks here. It's a big giant hairball.

Still, I'll try to keep an eye on the favorite workaround I send people to when "ordinary" tickets are sold out. The 45-minute tour in English has very often shown availability when I've looked it up as an option. It may not have slots available if one is VERY late in booking but I've seen availability a few weeks out.

This was a chuckle:

If you only want to see the Forum and Palatine, meaning you are
enlightened enough to know how over-rated the interior of the
Colosseum is, you have to pay more.

I get it why visitors think they just HAVE to get inside this thing. It's THE iconic image of Rome! But having the benefit of hindsight? It's way down the list of my faves, and we don't feel like we've missed a thing not seeing the underground, not that it was even open for tours when we went. The exterior really is just as impressive as the interior, if not more. Just like you, I'm relieved that we don't have to deal with the mess it has become.

Sacrilege, I know, but I just refused to deal with the Last Supper ticketing nonsense. Italy is oozing with other fabulous, fabulous art that doesn't require $$$ third-party bookings for the 15-minute look.

Posted by
3980 posts

Kathy I think you sum up the information about the Italian ticketing system provided by Tom Rankin very well “It's a big giant hairball”.😂

Posted by
27342 posts

Still haven't been inside the Coloseum or to see The Last Supper.

But I had a vaguely similar experience in 2015 when lined up for the bus taking visiors up to Taormina from the train station at Giardini-Naxos. The line to get on the bus was crawling. When I finally stepped through the door, I Iearned why: The fare wasn't posted anywhere, so for each traveler or group there was a conversation about the fare between the monolingual bus driver and the non-Italian-speaking tourist. The driver was totally courteous, but I would have lost my mind after one circuit of that route and stuck a hand-lettered sign up somewhere.

Posted by
3812 posts

about the illegal resellers

Re-selling tickets is illegal?

Posted by
11438 posts

In deference to Dario, I removed the word “illegal” from my intro to Rankin’s article. Tom used it, and I presume he knows what he is writing about. I do know it is almost impossible to get tickets to The Last Supper without paying extra to a reseller that snatched them up in a manner unavailable to we mere tourists.

Posted by
3812 posts

Named tickets are mandatory by law only when the capacity is over 5,000 visitors. Colosseum can accommodate up to 3,000, the Last Supper 30.
Bots used to buy up tickets have been banned By EU since July 1st, 2019; maybe it will change something On big concerts, but Milan based agencies don't need high-tech to get all the Last Supper tickets ; They just need a group of underpaid students with a clock and many credit cards.

Posted by
3980 posts

Right now the Borghese is driving me crazy. I’m waiting for August tickets to open up but because of a special exhibit that is supposed to close on July 28 they haven’t released any August tickets yet. We need August 3 so I watch and wait, now daily...

Posted by
1285 posts

The simple solution in most cases, such as the Colosseum or Last Supper, is to go to the reseller and book a tour. Problem solved.

Posted by
15975 posts

The simple solution in most cases, such as the Colosseum or Last
Supper, is to go to the reseller and book a tour.

....except that 3rd-party tours (almost always quite a lot more expensive than general-entry tickets) aren't necessarily affordable for everyone, especially if traveling with a family.

Posted by
3812 posts

Except that with the Borghese a 3rd party would just prey on people's anxiety, they would take the money and get tickets when they will be available.
Today there here are slots available for July 11, if you want to go on August 3 check again or July 20 or so.

Posted by
5258 posts

Laurel,

Thanks for posting this information.

I was fortunate to visit the Colosseum years ago (without buying ticket in advance), but it’s too bad for future travelers who will have to deal with this craziness!

Regarding the “Last Supper” tickets...

One can still get these tickets, however, one must be willing to stay up, and be ready to buy the second those tickets become available.
And... Tickets may not be released at the time you expect, so you’ll need to stay up till the wee hours of the night.

Last year when attempting to get
my “Last Supper” ticket, I almost gave up after multiple attempts, but persistence paid off and I was able to snatch a ticket!

Posted by
15975 posts

It's hopeless to purchase tickets online for upcoming weeks

Laurel, I know this was Tom's statement and not yours but thinking about it a bit more, here's where I'm confused?

Ordinary entrance tickets are released on monthly basis every first Tuesday at 6:30 for the following month. More tickets are released every Monday at 6:30 for following week, and every day at 3:00 PM for the following day. I understand a monthly batch selling out in a hurry but how would someone know if all tickets for the "upcoming weeks" are gone if those weekly and daily batches haven't even been released yet?

Oh, and I almost forgot the quarterly releases; done for July/Aug/Sept but go on sale for Oct/Nov/Dec. on 2 days later this month. Anyway, there are multiple other opportunities to try and get tickets if missing the first one.

I'm sort of wondering if someone handed the good architect a bit of hooey?

Posted by
3980 posts

My granddaughters have wanted to see the Bernini sculptures at the Borghese since they were very young and interested in mythology. We are taking them to Rome for their first time (teenagers now) and this is something we have to book. I’m concerned that people with quicker access than me are also waiting to sweep up multiple tickets at a time and tickets are more limited than many other venues in Rome. The uncertainty has been that they their rolling out these tickets doesn’t follow the usual pattern as the special exhibit may be extended and causes them to not release August tickets yet. I called the ticket office a couple of weeks ago and THEY tell me to watch every day.

Posted by
3812 posts

Mona, sorry but I still don't understand what you are worrying about: There is no people with quicker access than you. I may add that most visitors of the Borghese Gallery are Italians who haven't yet realized that August bookings are closed. You can live the way you prefer, but if other do things differently, why don't you just enjoy the flow? Of course they told you to check everyday, they were covering t.a., not worrying about you being anxious and "driven crazy" for no real reason.

Ordinary entrance tickets are released on monthly basis every first Tuesday at 6:30 for the following month. More tickets are released every Monday at 6:30 for following week, and every day at 3:00 PM

If you miss the days when tickets are released online and you have vip guests coming, the only way to get tickets in advance is to stand in that queue.

Posted by
15975 posts

If you miss the days when tickets are released online and you have vip
guests coming, the only way to get tickets in advance is to stand in
that queue.

Dario, she can't do that with the Borghese. There really isn't a ticket queue for that one. And she is coming a very long distance to see this particular museum so it's not like she has other opportunities anytime soon.

Mona, don't let it make you crazy. If it makes you feel better to just glance at the website every day then bookmark the page and do so; it only takes a minute. :O)

Posted by
3812 posts

I was answering to you about the Colosseum, not to Mona about the Borghese Gallery (always use both words, the Borghese is the name of a not-so-nice newspaper. More or less the "KKK Daily" Italian style).

Posted by
3980 posts

Kathy, that’s what I’m doing every day just like the person at the museum told us. It’s our last item to book on our 3 week trip and it would have been my first if the tickets had not been held up by this special exhibit.

Posted by
15975 posts

Ah, it wasn't clear that you were not talking to Mona, Dario. Sorry!

But regarding the Colosseum, I'd posted the same info you did about the multiple ticket releases. And I really didn't have a question, although I know it looked like I did. Just musing on paper, really, about how tickets could possibly be sold out weeks in advance given the stated release schedule. I'm not doubting Tom's word but am curious who gave him the information.

Posted by
209 posts

Thanks for the update! I will be in Rome in October. I have been to the coliseum numerous times, but will be there with my girlfriend who has never been. I will keep an eye on this thread, and the website to see what I can or can’t get.

Glenn

Posted by
15975 posts

I will keep an eye on this thread, and the website to see what I can
or can’t get.

Glenn, this thread is not going to help you if you have specific questions about ticketing for Oct. And who knows, they may throw more changes at the coopculture website at any time. For the most CURRENT info it's best to READ all of the text relevant to the month you need to reserve for.

https://www.coopculture.it/en/the-colosseum.cfm

Scan the text of the right side of the page (click on the [++] sign at the bottom to reveal the COMPLETE column of info) for the dates tickets and tours release for Oct.

Posted by
5697 posts

As was said above, I'm so glad we saw the Colosseum/Forum and Borghese on prior trips. We were able to buy tickets at the Forum entrance and then line up for the short line into the Colosseum the next day.
Perhaps these reservations are available through a hotel concierge desk ??

Posted by
209 posts

Thanks Kathy. I meant I would keep looking at forums foe experiences getting the tickets, and official website. The website is extremely confusing identifying multiple dates when tickets will be available. For October, it says a few dates, but I will go with the below (the quarterly reference is confusing, as elsewhere it says Sept 3 will be available for October):

QUARTERLY OPENING OCTOBER-NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2019
Tuesday, July 23rd at 6.30 pm (UTC+1)
The pre-sale of the first set of tickets with scheduled entrance time for the ordinary access of the Colosseum, of tickets with scheduled entrance time to the Colosseum arena, in the quarterly availability for the months of October, November and December 2019 will be released both online and by call center.

Website is clear as mud :-)

Glenn

Posted by
15975 posts

Yo back, Glenn!

If you just want "ordinary entrance " tickets, you'll have other opportunities to try and land them if you can't do it on the quarterly release (and there are TWO quarterly sale dates). As of right now (unless they change things AGAIN) here are all October ordinary-entrance release dates:

Quarterly for Oct/Nov/Dec:

Tuesday, July 23rd at 6.30 pm (UTC+1)
The pre-sale of the first set of tickets with scheduled entrance time for the ordinary access of the Colosseum, of tickets with scheduled entrance time to the Colosseum arena, in the quarterly availability for the months of October, November and December 2019 will be released both online and by call center.

Wednesday, July 24th at 6.30 pm (UTC+1)
The pre-sale of the second set of tickets with scheduled entrance time for the ordinary access of the Colosseum in the quarterly availability for the months of October, November and December 2019 will be released both online and by call center.

Monthly release for October:

MONHTLY OPENING
Every first Tuesday of the month
Pre-sale of tickets with scheduled entrance time for the ordinary access of the Colosseum and of tickets with scheduled entrance time to the Colosseum arena:
September 3rd at 6.30 pm (UTC+1) in monthly availability for the month of October 2019 both online and by call center

Weekly:
WEEKLY OPENING
Every Monday at 6.30 pm (UTC+1) new tickets for the following week (I'm unsure whether available both online and call center)

Daily:
DAILY OPENING
Every day at 3.00 pm (UTC+1) new tickets for the next day (I'm unsure whether available both online and call center)

Posted by
292 posts

It may surprise you that 3rd party agencies don't snatch up Last Supper tickets illegally by paying students to sit there, there are pre determined time slots dedicated to agencies, who have contracts, and time slots for the general public. They're not the same

Posted by
3812 posts

C'mon MR, everybody knows how they grab most of the online tickets that should be reserved to non professional buyers. Let's not pretend to be blind...

Posted by
72 posts

does this push tourists into joining tours, maybe there has been a deal made under the table? what about the street sellers how do they get tickets?

Posted by
3812 posts

Don't be paranoid, there is no need of deals under the table. They buy them, either directly or from people that have purchased them online. How else? It's absolutely legal.

Selling in the streets is fined, but it isn't a criminal offence. The US students and the other foreigners that sell tickets in the streets, simply don't pay the fines. They own nothing in Italy and they know they will be back home before those unpaid will become a problem. No prosecutor will ever open an international procedure for this stuff. I doubt they can sell those fines to international collection agencies like they do with traffic fines.

Posted by
646 posts

Does the Roma Pass no longer work for skipping the line? On my last two visits to Rome, I purchased the Roma Pass and was able to use it at the Colosseum .
That was a few years ago.

Posted by
292 posts

I'm not pretending to be blind, it is how it works, although people think agencies are set off to buy single tickets and resell them. At least for the Last Supper its not like that.

Posted by
15975 posts

Does the Roma Pass no longer work for skipping the line?

Unfortunately it does not, Camille. You must now make an advance reservation at the Colosseum (as well as Galleria Borghese) to use the pass there. Instructions for how to do that are on both the coopculture and Roma Pass websites.

Posted by
209 posts

Update on Ticket availability:

Today tickets were released for October. Most of the tickets were already gone! I was only able to purchase a guided tour - but at least i got tickets for a decent time! One note for MAC users. The website would not checkout using Safari. I switched browsers to Chrome, and I was able to checkout and pay for my pair of tickets.

Glenn

Posted by
15975 posts

Today tickets were released for October. Most of the tickets were
already gone! I was only able to purchase a guided tour.....

Glenn, be cautious when generalizing "tickets" for this attraction. Ordinary, timed-entry entrance tickets (no tours) release on multiple dates; reference the website for when those are.

https://www.coopculture.it/en/the-colosseum.cfm

DAILY OPENING
Every day at 3.00 pm (UTC+1) new tickets for the next day

WEEKLY OPENING
Every Monday at 6.30 pm (UTC+1) new tickets for the following week

MONHTLY (sic) OPENING
Every first Tuesday of the month
Pre-sale of tickets with scheduled entrance time for the ordinary access of the Colosseum and of tickets with scheduled entrance time to the Colosseum arena:

For October only: see the site for other monthly release dates:
September 3rd at 6.30 pm (UTC+1) in monthly availability for the month of October 2019 both online and by call center.

You referenced only the QUARTERLY ticket release, and no new "ordinary entrance" tickets released today; only the underground tour and tour of the combined underground, arena and third levels. The quarterly ordinary entrance tickets went on sale on 7/23 and 7/24.

Posted by
209 posts

Thanks Kathy. I was just happy I got tickets :-), and wanted to pass on for MAC users the issue with Safari. I have been to Rome 8 other times, been in the Colloseum each time, and never experienced the confusion of getting tickets as it is presently.

Glenn