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cruisemom42

Review of the new Palatine Hill/Forum S.U.P.E.R. ticket

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I'll admit it -- I've watched the soaring popularity of the Colosseum for years while shaking my head. While it is certainly an outstanding and iconic sight, it has been strange to me to see how many different types/variations of tours are offered there for what is basically one large single-purpose building with a history that is known to most and not difficult to follow. At the same time, the sights to be seen on the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (the 'sister sites' with the Colosseum) have been largely ignored despite the fact that they would benefit much more from a tour. These sites were built and used over hundreds of years with very different types of buildings -- which today are all jumbled on top of one another and can be very difficult to understand without some background and a good understanding of the various eras of Roman history.

 

That said, there finally seems to be a push to get people to look at something other than the Colosseum. In the past year, the powers-that-be have introduced a new ticket that is valid for the Forum and Palatine Hill sites only (no Colosseum included) -- it is called the SUPER ticket, which stands for "Seven Unique Places to Experience in Rome".  The ticket includes one admission that is good for both the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, as well as special access to a number of unique places therein, which for years have been difficult to access on one's own. These include:

  • The House of Augustus (no clear proof that it belonged to him, but circumstantially it is a good candidate), which has beautiful frescoes. A special multi-media presentation helps you understand the decoration.
  • The House of Livia (similar to the above but with the addition of well-preserved mosaic floors from the late-Republican/early Imperial period with traditional black and white designs made from tiny tesserae).
  • The Domus Transitoria -- This was Nero's first attempt at creating a "palatial" home for himself. It was completed before the Domus Aurea and portions of it were destroyed in the great fire of Rome. However, a small part has remained, fairly hidden, under later buildings on the Palatine. There is a virtual reality experience to help you visualize what it would have looked like 'back in the day'.  NOTE:  Most of the highly visible remains on Palatine Hill today date from the later palaces built by the Flavian emperors (the same guys that brought you the Colosseum; they built in a truly Colossal way....)
  • The Aula Isiaca -- Basically these are surviving frescoes from a late Republican-era house on Palatine Hill. Before the emperors, the Palatine Hill was the more desired real estate by powerful senatorial families. These frescoes are of amazing quality and have strong Egyptian elements, which have led to conjecture that they may have come from either the house of Mark Antony or may have been a part of the House of Augustus (see above). 
  • The Neronian Cryptoporticus -- how the well-to-do moved from place to place without being seen and in safety (which is debatable as Caligula was stabbed in one of these cryptoportici on his way to or from a show....).
  • The Palatine Museum -- this used to be open to all visitors but now can only be entered with the SUPER ticket. Contains sculpture found on Palatine hill, busts of emperors, and some beautiful remains of the superb decorations from the Domus Transitoria (see above).
  • There are also two sites down in the Forum that can be entered (normally closed to the public): the Temple of Romulus, and the church of Santa Maria Antiqua.

 

Well, the idea is a great one, for sure. But the authorities who dreamed it up have also made it rather difficult to figure out how exactly it all works, starting with the ticket. (Welcome to Italy.) So let me give a few tips:

 

  • Buy your tickets in advance (from Coopculture site), but not more than one month in advance. For some reason, the ticket is only good if used within one month of purchase.
  • When you purchase your ticket, you are provided an opportunity to make an advance reservation for the three sites that have some type of 'show' or 'presentation':  The House of Augustus, The House of Livia, and The Domus Transitoria. It is not at all clear from the site that you can make reservations for all three. At first I thought I could only select one. But if you go through the selection process for each one, you can then return and do the next. I highly recommend making these reservations as: 1) there are a limited number of presentations each day in English, and 2) there are a limited number of spaces in each presentation.  I watched several people get turned away from the Domus Transitoria because there was no room left that day.
  • The email with your pre-reservations will come separate from your ticket voucher. Bring both with you.
  • Choose your day carefully.  Here's where it gets really mind-boggling. All of the seven sites have different hours and different opening/closing times. They are listed on the Coopculture site, but you have to almost make a chart in order to plan your day. The only day when you can visit every included site is Saturday. And even then, some of the sites are open only in the morning.
  • This one really drives me crazy: there is currently NO MAP available that lists all of the sites included. At the Palatine Hill ticket entrance, I was sure they would have a map when I showed up with my ticket voucher. No map. When I asked again, somewhat incredulously, I was told to take a photo on my phone of the large display map outside the ticket gate and refer to it. Really?  Just a head's up: not all of the sites included in the SUPER ticket are even listed on the map.  However, I found that the on-site docents (stationed at each site entrance) were more than helpful in pointing me at least in the general direction of the next site. That, coupled with the afore-mentioned map, got me where I needed to go.  Hint: the entrance to the Domus Transitoria is just beside the Palatine Museum. You're welcome. 
  • Plan sufficient time to get from place to place. The above-mentioned sites that have presentations take a good half hour to go through. So don't book the House of Augustus at 9:30 am and the House of Livia at 10:00; give yourself a little breathing room to get from one place to another. Although in practice I found that the given start time was a bit on the casual side -- my tour at the House of Livia started 15 minutes late.

 

In my opinion, the sites with the presentations included were the most interesting; I would prioritize them. The Forum sites were the least interesting, although to a Roman history nerd such as myself, the opportunity to get inside these buildings that I had long passed by with their doors firmly shut was definitely a "must not miss".  Start with the Palatine Hill sites and if you still have time and energy, do the Forum ones last.

 

Hopefully some of the kinks involved with the ticket will work themselves out. The ticket sellers at the Palatine entrance do not seem to promote it at all, and over and over yesterday I heard bewildered people asking why they couldn't get access and how to purchase the tickets. Then again, perhaps they don't want too many people to know, as these places, unlike the Colosseum, cannot handle huge crowds. 

 

When I am home I'll try to remember to post some photos. Feel free to ask questions. It was a lovely day despite being windy and mostly gray.

 

P.S.  To the powers-that-be who arrange these things:  Please also include the Curia (Senate building) in the Forum. Seems like ages since I've seen the doors open for tourists.

Edited by cruisemom42

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4 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

there is currently NO MAP available that lists all of the sites included. At the Palatine Hill ticket entrance, I was sure they would have a map when I showed up with my ticket voucher. No map. When I asked again, somewhat incredulously, I was told to take a photo on my phone of the large display map outside the ticket gate and refer to it,

 

First, thanks for all the great information.  I am so jealous, I'd love to be there.

 

Regarding the map thing, as annoying as it is I'm kind of surprised that more sites aren't doing this to both save money and reduce paper waste and littering.

 

Edited by euro cruiser

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9 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

Choose your day carefully.  Here's where it gets really mind-boggling. All of the seven sites have different hours and different opening/closing times. They are listed on the Coopculture site, but you have to almost make a chart in order to plan your day. The only day when you can visit every included site is Saturday. And even then, some of the sites are open only in the morning.

 

It's going to take them awhile to get this sorted but then to your thinking, perhaps it's just as well since these attractions cannot handle the same size crowds that Colosseum can handle. Nevertheless, a sprinkling of synchronicity would be most ideal, these are definitely verbs of importance in the Italian lexicon, or way of life. Which is fine 😄 it's viva Italia. Is it chianti-o'clock yet? 🍷

 

Enjoy your time in bella Roma. Post pictures please, if you have them! 

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Good to know you found another thing to keep you "occupied" in Rome.  Thanks for passing on the info.

 

Chianti-o'clock???  Please.  My watch is set to Brunello time 😉

 

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On 11/24/2019 at 9:25 PM, Host Bonjour said:

 

IEnjoy your time in bella Roma. Post pictures please, if you have them! 

 

Oh I will have some to post when I get home. For now I've been just too "on the go" to spend the time. I just got back from an overnight to Ravenna. Two more days in Rome and then I head home. :classic_sad:

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On 11/25/2019 at 1:06 PM, slidergirl said:

Good to know you found another thing to keep you "occupied" in Rome.  Thanks for passing on the info.

 

Chianti-o'clock???  Please.  My watch is set to Brunello time 😉

 

 

I dig where your palate is at, and again, am envious. My local shops don't seem to be aware that there's much beyond chianti (well, a d'Oro isn't awful...) or pinot grigio–one shop has about 20 labels, or a token barolo (nothing to sneeze at, nevertheless....) or a barbera, probably because it's slightly frizzante but not too. I hear brunello and then the floodgates open, I think of tagliatelle, corniglio, and a zillion other things I cannot find here w/o heading to a particular shop. Amarone, dolcetto, varieties from Sicily I can't even remember, and the stuff that comes in mason jars. 😉 I'm hoping I can convince a newer shop owner to get a Chinon. 😳 Sancerre has finally caught on. But no one goes beyond pinot grigio and chianti, generally. What a wonderful world of Italian wine exists. 

 

As an aside, there are times I have just purchased an Italian red table wine because the selection was so uninspiring (it happens) and it was just fine...ok with a simple meal. Not to give or bring...but good enough and easy on the pocket. 

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Hey, I had my first Brunello in Milan way back in 2004.  I was hooked.  At least I can say I shattered my leg walking through the vineyards in Montalcino (home of Brunello)...

I only buy a Brunello for a special occasion - I can't afford $50-60 all the time.  I'll usually buy a $20 and under bottle of Italian red - Santa Christina Toscano is a good everyday red at usually about $10 a bottle.  I had an Amarone at Roscioli with my dinner.  Wow - it exploded in my mouth!  So good!  

 

Man, now I have to head to the State Liquor Store in town and buy some wine...  Maybe a Brunello to celebrate my new job!!!

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On 12/5/2019 at 1:06 PM, slidergirl said:

I shattered my leg walking through the vineyards in Montalcino (home of Brunello)...

 

If it had to happen....well, it's a better story and maybe a decent place to convalesce, albeit with an adjusted sightseeing schedule. (Sorry to hear about it!) What a way to trip into great wine, though.. 😉 (Makes me realize my clumsy self was lucky to make it through the day traipsing through the hills of Moët Chandon in Epérnay plucking the remaining grapes off the vines to eat. As I write this I'm wondering, it wasn't a tour, how or why were we even there? Nevermind...must have been after I left the tour of Mercier Caves. 🤐

 

And congrats on your new job!! That's definitely brunello-worthy, if ever anything was!! 🍷🎉 Since it's the season of sales and promotions, perhaps there's a little discount this time of year on a brunello. I say little because premium wine varieties don't tend to get or require major promotions but you never know. 

 

I felt about the same about Amarone when I first tried it in the early '90s, it was quite a surprise; I was at Taormina in Little Italy out to dinner after work with a friend. Robust, vibrant, rich, great accompaniment to our dinners that evening. It took awhile to find it at all for awhile in some stores (still can) and at reasonably approachable prices, but it has gotten a lot better nowadays.

 

Treat yourself!! And congrats again Slidergirl!! Auguri 🙂 

 

 

 

 

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