Visiting the Colosseum on Free Day

We were a little nervous to visit the Colosseum on their monthly free day. The Colosseum is the most popular tourist attraction in Rome and it is busy on any given day. Were we crazy for trying to visit it on the first Sunday of the month when all visits were free? Maybe, but it would save us a pretty penny and we are trying so hard to stay on budget in Europe!


We were up at 6am. I think this was the first time in history that my children did not complain to wake up to an alarm. They were so excited to see the colosseum! We took the tram from our Airbnb into the city center and were greeted by hundreds of marathon runners roaming the streets. Uh.Oh. How is that for timing? Free day was also the day of Rome’s marathon that attracts 80,000 runners per year! Gah! We ended up having to walk a very convoluted way to get to the colosseum because so many of the roads were closed for the race. This was the start to our epic, crazy, adventurous day.

We stayed in good spirits and wandered the back alleys, slowly making our way in the direction of the colosseum. Thousands of people were milling about and making their way towards the marathon starting points. We noticed that many of the runners were wearing garbage bags, plastic ponchos, or rain jackets. We were in t-shirts. Did they know something we didn’t?

We had read that the line up at the Forum would be a lot smaller than the line up at the colosseum. Since they are right next to each other we decided on the Forum. We arrived at 8am and were the 10th in line. High fives all around!!!! The forum opened at 8:30am and we were off and running to get to the colosseum. In the 10 minutes it took us to wander towards the colosseum through the forum, the skies opened up and it started to downpour. Yes, those athletes did know something we did not!


We huddled to take shelter every chance we got. The rain was cold and we were all starting to shiver. We made it to an alcove in the colosseum and began our Rick Steves audio guide. Rick does some fantastic guides to major European cities. Don’t buy the audio guides at major sites, just download the Rick Steve’s guides for free. You can thank me later. 🙂


Despite being cold and wet we still really enjoyed the colosseum. I mean, how could you not?. It is colossus!  Such an amazing site and we got to see it for free. More high fives all around!


In between downpours, we dashed around taking it all in. Was it busy? YES! But I think on any other free day we would have been fighting the crowds. The marathon and the rain must have kept many people away.


Once we were too cold to take it anymore we left to find a cafe and eat an early lunch (which was sadly mediocre). By this time it was clearing up so we decided to keep on exploring.  Unfortunately, this was a mistake. An hour later the clouds opened up again. But the kicker was that due to the marathon we were stuck! The marathon does a big loop in the city and we were stuck in the middle! We could not find a way out. We were starting to get miserable when we got the brainy idea to find the closest metro stop and take it wherever it happened to be going just to get out of downtown Rome. After getting a bit lost and turned around, we finally found one. We took the metro line out of town and then a bus back to our apartment.


Wet, happy, and laughing with our day’s adventures we all had hot showers and snuggles while we listened to the rain and thunder outside.

Travel is never boring.

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