Colosseum to open underground tunnels

Archaeologists have almost completed a $28 million project to preserve the basement of the Colosseum so it can be opened to the public.

Underneath the famous building is an underground network of cells and corridors that housed gladiators, wild animals, and prisoners as they waited for their turn to go out on the sands and offer a day’s entertainment to 50,000 screaming fans.

The Colosseum is already an atmospheric place, but when these chambers open to the public it will be even more so. Imagine what it must have been like to be a gladiator looking up at the stone vaults, hearing the distant roar of the crowds, and wondering if you’d ever stand under another roof again.

Archaeologists have shored up the walls and are adding walkways so that the millions of tourists who visit Rome’s iconic building won’t damage the remains. It’s not clear exactly when it will open, but the archaeologists have said their work is nearly done. Stay tuned.

BBC news cameras got a sneak peak at what’s sure to be a prime stop on any tour of Rome. You can see the clip here.

Image courtesy Dilif via Wikimedia Commons.

Lost in Rome? Look for a “tourist angel”

Naples may have a team of ex-cons out on the streets helping lost tourists, but Rome will soon have a fleet of angels – “tourist angels”. According to the online Italy Magazine, Rome is currently recruiting a fleet of 60 guides who will zoom around the city on “electric chariots” (souped-up Segways, perhaps?) looking for confused visitors to help out with information and directions.

Rome’s deputy mayor and tourism chief said that the tourism ambassadors will begin work in November and will be wearing red jerseys to be easily recognized. He said the aim of the project is to provide visitors with easier access to tourism services. “This way tourists won’t have to go to information offices. They’ll be reached wherever they are,” he said.

Of course, that may not be entirely accurate. Rome is a pretty big city, with thousands of tourists flooding its streets every day. With only 60 tourist angels on the team (and not all of them working at once I’m sure), they really can’t be everywhere at all times. I imagine they’ll spread out among the major tourist areas, where they’ll be approached by people in need rather than having to seek them out. Still, it’s a helpful service and I’m sure that many lost souls will appreciate the help of their guardian tourist angel.