Top tiers of Rome’s Colosseum to open to the public

CBS News

Rome’s Colosseum has been around for two millennia, but the view from its higher tiers has not been seen for four decades. That will change in November when the fourth and fifth tiers of the Colosseum are officially opened to the public, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.

During the Roman Empire, the different tiers served specific audiences.

“The first level was intended for senators,” said Federica Galloni, director of the archaeological part of the Colosseum. “Then the equestrian on the second, the third was intended for the intermediate categories, and the fourth and fifth for plebeians and women.”

Galloni met us about 12 stories up, 120 feet off the ground. From there, women and the lower classes could barely see the spectacles unfolding far below. There were mock military battles, gladiators fighting each other and battling animals brought in from across the Roman Empire.

“Can you give us an idea of what it would’ve looked like, smelled like, sounded like up here back in ancient Roman times?” Doane asked.

“You have to imagine they shouted, they laugh. It was really a mess – can I say?” Galloni said.

Over the past few weeks a fortunate few tourists with reservations have gotten a surprising glimpse.

“Unbelievable. We weren’t expecting this. We were told the tour would take us to the third tier and to be up on the fifth tier is amazing. It’s beautiful, beautiful,” Liz Feeley from New Jersey said.

Finding the money for this restoration — more than $1.5 million — took some time. The work, all funded by the government, stretched on for about a decade.

“The money doesn’t —is not constant. … So, for example, for five years the government didn’t give any — because we have so many monuments!” Galloni said, laughing.

There are so many monuments in this city, but this one is high on many tourists’ to-do lists. And now it’s literally higher.

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