With only two days to spare in Rome, we teamed up with Maya Tours for a professional guided tour with their friendly expert Ribal. We were able to contact Maya Tours prior to our arrival via email, and one of their customer service team members helped find the perfect tour package to suit our interests and timeframes. Maya tours were able to accommodate us over two separate days, making sure that we were booked in to see the Colosseum, Vatican Museum, and a full Rome walking tour - spread out over 48 hours.
Day 1 we were booked in for our private Colosseum tour - we waited for our guide Ribal at the newspaper stand of the colosseum, as we admired it from afar. It wasn’t long before Ribal spotted us and came to introduce himself and explained that he would be taking care of us over the next couple of days throughout Rome.
We spent some time prior to the inside tour doing a walking lap outside of this incredibly impressive amphitheatre, finding a few quieter spots away from the crazy crowds to capture some photographs. After being offered a selfie stick by the street vendors more than 50 times, it was time to make our way inside!
With all of our tickets having already been organised by Maya tours, we made our way straight into the express entrance lines and jumped a number of long queues as we were with a tour operator - awesome! Ribal helped us find a quieter spot in the Colosseum to sit and soak it all up, while he explained to us a whole heap of information about how it was designed, built, and the history of how the Colosseum came about.
After inspecting all of the structural archway, colon’s, and ground level seating levels and passages, we made our way up a number of flights of stairs to the upper level of the Colosseum. Here the views back down were very impressive, and Ribal gave us further information about what the Colosseum was used for, the games that were played inside, how it came to be abandoned, and then eventually cleaned out and made to be the tourist attraction that it is today.
We ended up spending just over 2 hours all up inside of the Colosseum with Ribal, the time went so quickly and we learnt so much about the fascinating history of this wonderful place! Our next adventure for the late afternoon with RIbal was a walking tour through Rome. We made our way through the Roman Forum just outside of the Colosseum, where we came across hundreds of ruins which all told an individual story - it was great having Ribal talk us through some of the important ones, as without his guidance it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting and special.
Over the next 2.5 hours we wandered through the gorgeous streets of Rome, overwhelmed with how much history each building, church, statue, and square held. We stopped off for a delicious gelato, espresso coffee, and quick rest at one of Ribal’s favourite cafe’s, and were then taken to a number of must-see locations through Rome such as Fontana di Trevi, Piazza del Popolo, Pantheon, Piazza Navona.
Before we knew it, it was close to 9pm and our bellies were rumbling! Ribal very kindly guided us to a little local restaurant called Costanza that he recommended for great quality food at a reasonable price.. and it did not disappoint!! Pasta for Mish, fish for Kirk, a side of grilled vegetables to share, and of course we couldn’t pass up an authentic Italian dessert and some red wine.. a perfect finish to a wonderful day!
After a good night’s sleep, we awoke the next day for our early tour at the Vatican Museum - again we were joining Ribal on a private tour, and today we were gaining access to the Vatican Museum at 8am, which is an hour prior to it opening to the general public, meaning no line-up’s, and less crowds.. this was certainly right up our alley!
Once again Ribal came prepared with all of our entrance tickets for the tour, and we made our way through security quite quickly come 8am, and straight into the Vatican Museum. We spent hours wandering through different areas of the museum, learning from Ribal so much about the artwork, statues, antique artefacts, and items from the Pope’s personal collection such as his vintage cars and carriages. Each item or piece of ancient artwork had a very significant story that went along with it, and we were lucky to hear all of these from the very knowledgeable Ribal.
But a tour to the Vatican Museum wouldn’t be complete before visiting the Sisteen Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica.. for us, these were both magical stand-outs of the tour, and you cannot be anything but overwhelmed and blown away by the intricate detail and storytelling in the artwork in both of these places, especially Michelagnelo’s piece covering the entire roof and wall of the Sisteen Chapel.
Three hours later, and we were emerging from the Vatican, after having the most incredible morning taking a step back in time, and exploring this incredible museum. Without the help and guidance from Ribal, we believe our experience would have been very different. Ribal was able to explain every single story to us about the artefacts and artwork that were found in the Vatican, he answered every single one of our curly questions with confidence and detail, and made sure that he brought us to all of the extra rooms and spots in the museum that one who was not on a private tour could very easily miss (the Vatican Museum is a very large place!)
Understanding all of the history behind what we were admiring throughout the Colosseum, Vatican, and Rome in general, really made our experience all the more authentic and really gave us a greater appreciation for what was around us. For anyone who finds themselves in Rome, whether this be for a day, or a week - we would highly recommend organising yourself a tour to the places that take your interest the most, it is a fantastic way to make the most out of Rome, and see as much as possible, in a short time-frame.. all the while being provided with so much background information, Rome is full of such impressive history!
Maya Tours offer a range of different tours and packages, at a range of different times to suit your personal schedule - whether you’d prefer a private tour with the family, or are happy to go on a group tour with other travellers - there are lots of options for you! Be sure to check-out their website online at https://www.mayatoursroma.com for more information and to organise your reservation in advance - we would highly recommend doing so early to guarantee yourself a spot!