Third level Colosseum: the attic reopens - ANSA

The new route begins at the third level of the Colosseum with the highly suggestive crossing of the only gallery still preserved.

The clash of weapons; the roar of angry beasts. And then the din of shouts; incitements; typhus. “Attending a show in the Colosseum two thousand years ago – says the archaeologist Rossella Rea – must have been a very strong experience”. An incredible bedlam of noises and smells enveloped the 50 thousand spectators of all social levels. These were divide into the various rings, each with its own seat. In marble for the wealthiest, in wood for the plebs. The latter was confine to the higher levels, where the fighting was barely visible.

From up there, however, the overall view was unique and spectacular. A wonder that after more than forty years is once again accessible to everyone. A new tour route – starting November 1st – which adds a further piece to the charm of the most popular monument in Italy.
“An unforgettable show”, comments the minister of culture Franceschini. Now we are already looking at the restoration of the basement and the coverage of the arena. The project, to which he has earmarked 18 million euros, was strongly supported by him. “With the reconstruction of the arena, you will really understand what it meant to see a show at the Colosseum“, reiterates the minister.

New route

In fact, reserved for safety reasons for groups of up to 25 people accompanied by a guide, still preserved as it was originally and which also has an additional unicum: white plasters with signs of color brought to light by a thorough restoration. An intermediate gallery, explains Rea, which had a sorting function for the public that from the second level (today the first floor of the Amphitheater) reached the highest floors of the cavea. First the “second meniano”, on the fourth level, where merchants and the petty bourgeoisie were placed on large marble seats divided into categories, then the “meniano in ligneis”, reserved for the plebs, the only one with wooden seats and the most uncomfortable to reach, climbed as it is 40 meters from the arena.

Here the families of the populace sometimes spent entire days, rejoiced, ate, in some cases they even prepared meals, says Rea, “especially chicken and cereals”, cooking it on makeshift stoves of which archaeologists found fragments during the restoration . And there was no shortage of “toilets” – practically holes in the floor – set up in the gallery.

The fifth level of the Colosseum

Rebuilt by Luigi Canina in the nineteenth century, the fifth level today has the appearance of an open terrace, with a breathtaking view of the Colosseum and the capital, but also exposed to sun and rain. In Ancient Rome this was not the case: if the most luxurious seats of the cavea were protected by the velarium, a thin curtain stretched if necessary by the sailors of the Miseno fleet, the peoples’ benches were instead sheltered by a large portico, which guaranteed protection from rays of the sun as from downpours.

Today there are no longer those humble wooden terraces. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the very rich stage of the emperor and the thrones of the senators. But the impact is highly suggestive. “A very strong experience that every tourist will take with them”, Franceschini is passionate. The path for now is only accessible with the steep stairs that it is good to climb and descend carefully. But work is underway to install an elevator, which allows visitors to visit even those who cannot walk. Insure Galloni. The ticket costs 9 euros (free under 12 years), 15 if combined with a visit to the underground and the arena.  Reservation is mandatory. (HANDLE).