A Day In My Life As A Full-Time Intern At The Colosseum

Elsie McCabe headshot
Elsie McCabe
October 18, 2023
Elsie McCabe standing in the Colosseum

For the past month, while my friends have been going on field studies and learning about the city of Rome and its history, I have been cooped up in an office on the second floor of the Colosseum working as a full-time intern. I know that probably made it sound a little boring, but being a full-time intern is anything but boring. Over the past few weeks, I have gotten to attend an opening of a newly restored area of the Roman Forum, a gladiator reenactment outside the Colosseum, as well as the opening of a contemporary art exhibit in the temple of Venus and Roma. It’s fair to say that my schedule looks pretty different from my friends. So, let me bring you along with me this Tuesday to show you what it's like to be a full-time intern at the Colosseum!


What does an intern at the Colosseum do?

Now before I hop into what my schedule looks like, I’m going to give you a breakdown of what exactly I’m doing over at the Colosseum. My internship is with the organization PArCo, a department created by the Ministry of Culture in 2017 to manage the archaeological park of the Colosseum and its surrounding areas. There are two different portions to my internship, working in the Cinema Office and working in the deposits.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I am helping in the Cinema Office, which manages the copyright of the image of the Colosseum and other monuments. In Italy, there are laws that place cultural heritage sights under copyright in order to preserve their image. Anyone who wishes to take pictures or film one of these sights and then use them to make a profit or to promote their business must first get it approved by the office in charge of said monument.

The Colosseum’s Cinema Office handles the copyright of not only the Colosseum but also the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, the Palatine Hill, the Domus Aurea, Trajan’s Column, Hadrian’s Auditorium, and the Meta Sudans. The office also partners with the Roman capital to oversee the Circus Maximus and Imperial Forum. My role is to help translate documents from Italian to English and to create a list of videos that are illegally using the image of any monument falling under PArCo’s jurisdiction.

On Mondays and Fridays, I work with the part-time interns in the deposits where we handle collections from recent excavations just outside the Colosseum. These collections are mostly medieval and renaissance era pottery, however, there are some animal bones, glass, and marble from ancient Roman structures. Our duties vary from day to day. During our last two workdays, we have washed and sorted the artifacts. Other times we have spent the whole day making lists of all the different boxes we are working with. This portion of my internship is very educational as each of us interns has a very different background and not all of us are familiar with working with artifacts.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what I’m up to, let's jump right into my day.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2023


As my alarm blares, I silently curse myself for being a night owl. Refusing to accept my fate, I think about how comfy my bed is until I finally cave, rolling out of bed to get dressed and ready for the day.


After grabbing a cappuccino and a quick bite to eat, I head down to the bus stop. The puddles on the street and the humidity in the air are a friendly reminder of how fall is finally coming to Rome. On the bus, I run into my friend who is living in the same building as me. She is also headed toward the Colosseum for one of her classes and we chat for most of the ride. 


I arrive at the Colosseum with some time to hang out before heading up to my office. I always try to get there a little early to give myself the chance to enjoy the emptiness of the Colosseum before it opens. It’s also the perfect time to take some pictures.


Opening the door to the office, I hear the shuffle of my coworkers as they settle in for the morning. It’s a fairly small office, with only about 7 of us working. I put my lunch in the fridge of our little kitchenette and head up the stairs to my desk. 


Coffee break time! I normally don’t have a cup since I get one before coming to work, but it’s nice to talk with my coworkers as they sip their cappuccinos for a few minutes before we all get back to work. 


Lunch at my desk. The streets around the Colosseum are always packed, making it hard to go grab a bite to eat for lunch in a reasonable amount of time. Packing lunch has become a must for my days at the office.


Leave for class. Weaving through the crowds of tourists both inside and outside the Colosseum can take a minute, so I always give myself ample time to get to class. On a good day that leaves me time to sit out on the terrace at the IES Abroad center and chill, and on a bad day I can make it to class just in time. Lucky for me, today was a good day.


Italian class was pretty easy today since we had our midterm last week. We got our exams back and then talked about our upcoming field study. We ended the class by revisiting the goals we had given ourselves at the beginning of the semester. Mine had been 1) Visiting other countries, 2) Getting to know as much about the Colosseum as possible, and 3) Exploring Rome. So far I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job at accomplishing those.


After class, my friend Addy and I head over to the local gelato shop and then walk over to Piazza Navona. I welcome the feeling of disappearing into the crowd in the piazza as we sit enjoying our gelato. The little moments like this are what remind me that this isn’t just some fever dream.


I take the slow route home, enjoying the people-watching on the bus. Unfortunately, when I get home I find out I’m running late for the soccer game tonight. I get ready as quickly as I can and head downstairs to wait for my friends.


We make it to the soccer field and get ready to play our first game of soccer against one another. One of the Italian Student Companions had arranged for us to rent a soccer field so we could play. Everyone is buzzing with excitement.


As we clear off the field everyone seems to be in good spirits. We had split into two teams of 8, changing up the teams every once in a while to try and find a good match-up. Although some people have bloody knees from sliding on the turf and everyone is panting and out of breath, we recount the events of the game, laughing and teasing one another.


Finally making it home, I take a shower, and one of my neighbors comes over with some pasta. We talk and eat, but soon we call it a night and I get ready for bed.


Crawling into bed, I can’t help but dread just how sore I will be in the morning. I hadn’t worked out in ages, so the soccer game took a lot out of me. However, I know in that with how much fun I had today, it will definitely have been worth it.

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Elsie McCabe headshot

Elsie McCabe

As an aspiring archaeologist, a bookworm, and a lover of thrifting, I couldn't be more excited to be going to Rome. Come with me to explore the city's vast history and find the best second-hand shops and cozy corners to curl up and read a good book.

2023 Fall
Home University:
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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