No matter how awe-inspiring the Colosseum may be by daylight, especially Sundays when silky brides flow around its foothills in search of the perfect wedding portrait backdrop, it is best appreciated at night when it has the allure of a forbidden hideaway. After dark, when the gates are closed, its majestic arches perfectly frame the moonlit caverns inside. It is as dangerously romantic as it is ominous. It’s no wonder Henry James, in his 1878 novella “Daisy Miller” placed the flirtatious American and her warm Italian companion Mr. Giovenelli there at midnight. In a single starlit moment, she naively scorned her one true love -- the aptly named Mr. Winterbourne, who, not surprisingly, was also drawn there that moonlit night. And she lost her life, dying shortly thereafter from the malaria, or “Roman Fever”, she contracted in the night air.
There is perhaps no other spot in all of Rome so often associated with the process of death. For many, the pocked ruins immediately evoke thoughts of martyred innocents -- from commoners who died for the entertainment of ancient Romans to devout Christians who were hanged for their beliefs.
That image of senseless death exists even today. Starting in December, the city of Rome will reinstate its silent protest and light up the giant shell whenever a person, anywhere in the world, faces the death penalty.
To visit the colosseum in person, reserve tickets through Pierreci Tickets.