I was recently invited to go on a special tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with LivItaly Tours – special because they’ve added VR glasses/goggles so you can see computer generated recreations of the sites while in them.
We – my 10-year old daughter and I – met with a group of other bloggers at the nearby Caffé Propaganda in the Celio neighbourhood, just next to the Colosseum, where we had a drink and demo of our glasses.
They work with your smartphone through an app you download in advance. Once at a site, you select it in the app, and it recognises your motion, so as you turn the view changes.
We started off at the Colosseum, talking about how it got its name and the colossal statue of Nero that was once next to it – and that thanks to the VR glasses, we could see again.
Being on a group tour means jumping the substantial line, which even in November was pretty long.
Now, I’ve been in the Colosseum many times, and have had a number of guided tours there too, but for my daughter, despite being born in Italy and living here, this was her first time. She’s currently studying the Greeks in school, so this was an interesting way for her to connect the dots to the ancient world. She was full of questions, and our guide, Rachel, was full of answers. The glasses were appealing to my daughter not only because of the cool/fun factor, but because many of the monuments and ruins from the ancient world require a lot of imagination to see what they were really like, and visualising them with the glasses makes it come to life much easier.
Next we headed up the Palatine Hill, where the emperors had their palaces, and saw over the Circus Maximus, the world’s largest sports arena.
For the final part of the tour, we heading into the Roman Forum, once the downtown of the Roman Empire, and thus, kind of the center of the entire world.
The entire tour probably lasted between 3-4 hours, and we were engaged the entire time.
I’m a big fan of walking tours in general. There’s a number of quality tour companies in Rome and in general they are all worthwhile – the more you’re able to invest, the more likely you’ll have a smaller group size and a more knowledgeable guide. Visiting many of these sites on your own, without any additional information or guide, can be an underwhelming experience, so I do recommend doing a tour.
Having the VR glasses was a nice addition too, especially for kids, who can be hard to keep interested. I also felt that our guide was great with kids too – she was happy to get questions and visibly pleased to be able to answer them in a way that kept more questions coming.
The price of their tours are slightly higher than other similar tours, due to the VR glasses, but you get to keep them afterward, and they work for other sites as well (and for other VR apps). They also offer a guide that’s full of recommendations that go behind the sites – food, markets, shopping, etc.
For more information, check them out at: