Why we do not sell underground Colosseum tours

Posted on Apr 29, 2022 in Time out to reflect

[written in April 20222] We already tried to explain in another blogpost why it is so difficult to visit the underground sector of the Colosseum. Annually I make an attempt, to verify if the situation is still the same, sadly it’s getting always worse. 

Today (April 29, 2022) I decided to help some Italian friends to get these tickets, they live in Rome and have flexibility in day and time to attend such a tour, I thought this would make things easier. But it was not enough.

Online tickets should “appear” and be on sale one month ahead on the exact time of the tour, this morning the little square in the calendar for May 29th went from grey area (not bookable) to red (sold-out ) without showing the green option for not even a minute. 

Second option is calling an operator: as tour guides, we were granted a dedicated line, “how nice” one may think. Unfortunately this line keeps you on hold for minutes and systematically you get cut off after a while. You try again and when you finally get to the operator, the slot is gone. 

This morning I had no tours, I decided to be careful in documenting this frustrating activity and this is what I got (I called for each slot at every given hour). It’s pretty clear a tour guide, or anybody else who is not doing this “calling activity” as a primary job, cannot get the underground slots. Slots end up in the hands of few companies that invest a lot on  that (with some non totally transparent systems), pay somebody just for this job, and then  overcharge you for something that formally should cost 24 euros per person (I found a rate of 278 euros for two people joining a group tour).

This is exactly how it went, with a clock in front of my eyes to be accurate.

FIRST SLOT

  • first call at call centre (especially dedicated to tour guides!), waited 4‘ and got cut out
  • tried again, waited 10’ and got cut out
  • tried again, waited 3’, got to the operator, slot is sold out

SECOND SLOT

  • first call, waited ‘5 minutes, got cut out
  • second call, waited 6’ and got cut out
  • third call, waiting 6′, got to the operator, slot is sold out 

THIRD SLOT

  • first call, waited 6 ‘ and got cut out
  • second call, waited 6′, cut out
  • third call, waited 5′, got to the operator, slot is sold out at 12,47 (sales opened at 12.35!)

FOURTH SLOT (this is different) 

  • first call, waited 6’, got cut off
  • second call, waited for 5’, got cut off
  • third call, waited for 5’, got cut off
  • fourth call, waited for 5’, got cut off
  • fifth call, waited for 5’, got cut off
  • sixth call, waited for 6’, got cut off
  • seventh call, waited for 3’, got to the operator, he has 10 tickets available, “wow” I think… he tries to secure them, no way, they become 4 only and cannot be booked, the system gets blocked! Ciao ciao.

FIFTH SLOT

  • first call, waited for 5’, got to the operator, she can see the 10 tickets of the previous slot and offers them now again. I get the tickets. Now I have to pay for them. I have an Amex card, always used online to book Colosseum tickets, but …SURPRISE! Over the phone for the same company the Amex card is not acceptable!!! 

Lucky me (!!!) I have also a VISA card, but I cannot stop thinking this should be a relevant information written somewhere before spending a day on the phone. I do not recall having seen this written anywhere. And apart from the missing info, isn’t it totally illogical??? 

Anyway, I finally get those tickets and triumphantly inform my friends. 

Do you think is all this normal? I was impacted in my day from 9 a.m. to 3.50 p.m.!

Clearly nobody can spend all this time on a set of 8 tickets (or even 2, it wouldn’t be easier, slots were sold out!). If somebody does, it means  at least they pay for a person to do that and they charge you for a salary of a person on top of the real price of the tickets. 

I do not have a solution. I just think that if you offer something that is so highly requested with so limited availability, it’s evident all sort of loopholes and scams come out. Maybe this privilege of the underground path should just be a gift for lucky visitors, you know, like in supermarkets when you are the 1000th customer of the day and get a prize.

Every here and there, on each day, let’s make few visitors happy with this unexpected opportunity FOR FREE. I think as a Country, and as “worldwide famous attractions” it will give us a better reputation than the present one, which makes me feel ashamed every time I try to explain all this procedure.