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Rome’s Colosseum — a marvel of ancient engineering — is one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Unfortunately, though, until recently, visitors to the Roman Empire’s largest amphitheater have been limited to a mere third of the structure’s perspectives: that of the Roman senators, noblemen and VIPs who watched gladiatorial action from lower-level seating. The upper tier, or third ring, where normal Romans sat, has been closed to the public since the 1970s, and the underground bowels of the Colosseum have never been open at all. (These include the hypogeum — the rooms and tunnels where gladiators and animals waited — along with the Porta Libitina, the arched exit for the dead.) But all that changed dramatically this past fall when the Colosseum completed an extensive (and ongoing) restoration, and both restricted areas, along with the sporting field of the arena itself, were opened to the public. So, now you don’t have to rent Gladiator to see what Russell Crowe’s Maximus saw — you just have to buy a plane ticket to Rome. And, luckily, we happen to fly there. What are the odds? Newly opened areas are available only on small-group guided tours ($28 for 90-minute tour, reservations required); spring tours are tentatively set to begin in March/April. www.pierreci.it