The Colosseum © De Agostini Picture Library

The ‘WOW’ factor: The focus of all visitors to the Italian capital city. Despite the never-ending and slightly manic traffic that flows past the ancient structure all day and night, this fabulous building is what remains of the Flavian Amphitheatre, an elliptical structure
made from stone and concrete that serves to highlight Roman engineering and architectural strengths. Its construction commenced in 72AD and was finished eight years later. An earthquake caused most of the damage to its structure.

Did you know?: The Colosseum is regarded as an iconic symbol of the permanence of Rome. Over 9,000 animals were slaughtered during the opening ceremony and games at the amphitheatre. A fire caused by lightning in 217AD damaged the building and destroyed the upper wooden layers. The last gladiatorial fights took place in 435AD. It
has been used as work units, a cemetery, a monastery, a church and even a fortified castle over the centuries.

Experience: Because it is so difficult to cross the roads  in the area of the Colosseum during the day, one of the best ways to see it is illuminated at night-time, from a glass-topped coach. Several tours of this sort operate in Rome and your local hotel can advise more. For a fee of Euros30 (adult; students Euros25), an hour-long guided tour of the Colosseum forms part of a 2.5-hours walking tour around several of Rome’s most important ancient structures. (www.besttoursofrome.com) Rome is popular as a weekend city break, as well as a base for longer Italian holidays. Most of the major tour operators can provide surprisingly inexpensive vacations and tours, either all-inclusive or on room-only basis. www.citalia.com, www.cooperativetravel.co.uk, www.britishairways.com