Meet your archaeologist guide at the Colosseum metro stop in the morning, and begin with a tour of the world's most famous arena. Skip the long lines with reserved entry, and step inside the walls to hear tales of the brutal events that occurred here, from gladiator fights to executions and staged animal hunts.
Next, take on the role of archaeologist and put on a hard hat for an exploration of the 300-room ‘pleasure palace’ of Domus Aurea — a structure that once would have dwarfed the Colosseum in size. Buried under Trajan’s Baths for centuries, the villa was rediscovered during the Renaissance and has proved a source of fascination for artists from Michelangelo to the Marquis de Sade. Examine ancient frescoes that adorn 30-foot ceilings, and learn about the extravagant lifestyle of Emperor Nero, who entertained guests with man-made lakes, rose petal showers, and a revolving dining room. See the storied palace come to life with the aid of a virtual reality experience showing details of its full gilded glory.
Headed back above ground, and continue your tour through imperial history with included tickets to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, two sites at the very heart of ancient Rome's founding. Your guide will ensure you skip the lines and escort you to the entrance, from where you can explore the ruins independently.