I really wanted to say it.
But I didn’t say it.
Standing on the floor of the Colosseum, the crowd buzzing in anticipation, the urge to bellow, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!” was very, very hard to resist.
But I managed to restrain myself, much to the relief of my traveling companion and the guide, who had probably seen that done far too many times.
The Colosseum has always been a place for “bloody spectacles,” said our guide, Camilla Verdacchi, who led us to the basement of the great stadium, where we could look up at the crowd above.
“It's really incredible how many people died here,” she said. “It was not the circus. It was not the theater — it was the amphitheater, a place for bloody spectacles.”
Verdacchi's entertaining expertise and bypassing the huge lines trying to get into Rome's biggest attraction made paying for the tour a no-brainer.
Big is no joke, either. The Colosseum's three decks once held between 50,000 and 80,000 people, which is all the more impressive for a building put together by hand with basic tools.
Sadly, much of the outer marble façade was stripped over the years by needy foremen working on buildings in other parts of the city, but there is still a grandeur surrounding the massive stadium.
Our tour led us through the Forum, including the area believed to be the cremation site of Julius Caesar, inside a nondescript low stone hut that is all that is left of a once-massive temple. Even 2,000 years later, however, the grave was graced with flowers.
After wandering through the remnants of the Forum, we ended our tour on the third deck of the Colosseum (another perk of the tour – general admission only gets you into the first and second decks). The decks were noticeably lower and wider than the steep-walled modern-day parks.
It was only a few steps from the Colosseum to the Capitoline Museums, where we browsed through huge statutes and fine art virtually undisturbed.
*Portions of this post appeared in a story I wrote about the trip to Rome for the San Antonio Express-News, titled “Plenty of spectacles, history in Rome.”