Rome & the Sistine Chapel
Rome is an exhilarating and intimate destination where the glories of its ancient past, the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon exist beside museums, art-soaked churches and medieval piazzas: evidence of Rome’s continued power when its empire was no more. This is the perfect introduction to the ‘Eternal City’ led by expert archaeologists who bring to life triumphs, tragedies and political intrigue that characterised the Roman empire.
We have special access to the Colosseum and the glorious Sistine Chapel. Follow in the footsteps of slaves and Ceasars; saints and sinners in this unique exploration of over 2000 years of Roman history.
- Go underground at the Colosseum, to see where the gladiators awaited their fate. Private evening visit to the Sistine Chapel
- On foot through the glories of the Eternal City from Trajan’s column to the Colosseum; the Forum to the Vatican
- Stay in one charming hotel for the entirety of our journey, perfectly placed just behind the Pantheon
- Historic Churches
- Great Cities
- Cultural Excursion
- Special Access
- Just One Hotel
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Rome.
We begin at the iconic Colosseum, the Flavian amphitheatre.
We have a specially arranged visit to the underground service tunnels and the upper levels.
This afternoon, we walk through the heart of ancient Rome, taking in the Roman Forum, the venue of profound historical events including Caesar’s funeral, and triumph of Titus. The major public institutions of the state, senate, and popular assembly were once here. We end by walking along the later Imperial Fora ending at the incomparable Trajan’s column.
A morning guided visit around the vast collections of the Vatican Museum. After lunch we enjoy some free time to explore St. Peter’s Basilica. You could choose to ascend the great dome, or visit the burial place of Popes in St. Peter’s crypt.
We return to the Vatican Museum for a private viewing of the masterly Raphael rooms and the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece of high Renaissance art.
We visit the Villa Borghese Museum. The 17th century Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the great art collection assembled by the Borghese, one of Rome’s most illustrious princely families. Work by Bernini, Titian, and Canova are among the incredible assemblage of art to be discovered. We continue to the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius. Tucked inside the Aurelian wall, and right beside the impressive funeral pyramid of Gaius Cestius is the ‘Non-Catholic’ cemetery of Rome. The scene of many illustrious burials, including John Keats and Shelley’s ashes and heart. We end the day at the innovative Montemartini Museum.
Today, we visit the Villa Borghese Museum. The 17th century Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the great art collection assembled by the Borghese, one of Rome’s most illustrious princely families. Work by Bernini, Titian, and Canova are among the incredible assemblage of art to be discovered. We continue to the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius. Tucked inside the Aurelian wall, and right beside the impressive funeral pyramid of Gaius Cestius is the ‘Non-Catholic’ cemetery of Rome. The scene of many illustrious burials, including John Keats and Shelley’s ashes and heart. We end the day at the innovative Montemartini Museum.
We walk through the winding lanes and alleys of medieval Rome, through the region known as the Field of Mars. Visit to the Pantheon just around the corner from our hotel, the inspirational building built by Emperor Hadrian to be a shrine for all the Roman Gods. Its roof is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. We travel on to the Piazza Navona, the former stadium of emperor Domitian, and the Column of Marcus Aurelius celebrating his victories in the Marcomannic Wars. We end our day at the Ara Pacis, the great altar of peace built by Augustus with its famous frieze of the imperial family and Senators in procession. A free afternoon to explore this fascinating city.
Before returning home, a morning to explore Ostia Antica the original port of ancient Rome. In places this sprawling city is as well preserved as Pompeii. It has all the features expected for urban life: a forum, baths, temples, private houses and tenements, and of course warehouses and wharves for collecting and storing the supplies to keep the imperial capital fed. We transfer to the airport for flights home.
We arrive in Rome, and transfer to our fabulous hotel in the centre of it all. A relaxed first day with time to adjust to our thrilling location. Why not take a leisurely walk on the surrounding streets before settling down for a delicious welcome dinner with the group? Benvenuto in Roma!
Our adventure begins at the Colosseum, the iconic Flavian Amphitheatre – the largest of its type ever constructed. Here we enjoy a specially-arranged visit to the underground service tunnels and upper levels, offering unprecedented access to the atmospheric corridors in which so many lives were lived and broken.
Following lunch we take an afternoon walk through the heart of ancient Rome, stopping at the Forum, site of profound historical events such as the Gracchi riots, Caesar’s funeral, and the triumph of Alaric the Goth. Here existed the major public institutions of the state, including the senate, the popular assembly and the chief temples – a classical location which still retains the power to impress.
We end the day with a walk along the later Imperial Fora, an elaborate series of ruined public squares, finishing at Trajan’s Column. This towering monument was completed in 113 AD, and marked Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. A formidable legacy.
This morning we wake to enjoy a guided visit around the vast collections of the Vatican Museum, amassed by Popes across the centuries. Prepare for archaeological wonders unearthed from the Church of Saint John Lateran, as well as the necropolis of the Via Triumphalis, not forgetting the Vatican’s peerless galleries of religious paintings and sculpture.
In the afternoon we enjoy some free time to explore Saint Peter’s Basilica, a jewel of the Renaissance, and the largest church in the world. Ascend the great dome for astounding views of the city, or visit the extensive papal tombs in Saint Peter’s crypt.
Later we return to the Vatican Museum for a private viewing of the ornate Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. Marvel at Michelangelo’s most masterful creation – a landmark in the history of Western art – uninterrupted by the usual crowds. (Please note: this special viewing is exclusive to the September tour.)
Following breakfast we visit the Borghese Gallery, a 17th-century gem of a villa, which houses a substantial selection of the amazing art collection gathered by the Borghese, one of Rome’s most illustrious families. Works by Bernini, Titian, and Caravaggio are displayed within this incredible assemblage of art – an education in Italy’s greatest masters.
We continue on to the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, a striking monument dating from 18-12 BC, built to contain the body of the prominent magistrate Cestius. An essential stop on many a Grand Tour, the pyramid has featured in works by both Shelley and Hardy.
Tucked inside the Aurelian walls, and adjacent to the tomb of Cestius is the “Non-Catholic” Cemetery of Rome. The scene of many illustrious burials, notable graves here include that of John Keats. Shelley’s heart is also buried on site, along with his ashes.
Our day draws to a close at the innovative Montemartini Museum, a former power station in which we find beautiful galleries of classical sculpture and Roman mosaics – a highly unusual juxtaposition of elegant antiquities and industrial machinery.
This morning we walk along the winding lanes and alleys of Medieval Rome, through the area known as the Field of Mars, the most populous region of city during the Middle Ages. No exploration of the Fields would be complete without a look inside the Pantheon, the inspirational building built by Emperor Hadrian as a shrine to the Roman gods. Its roof still holds the title of the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. A truly jaw-dropping sight.
We continue on to the bustling square of Piazza Navona, former stadium of Emperor Domitian, then head for the Column of Marcus Aurelius, an intricately decorated monument celebrating the emperor’s victories in the Marcomannic Wars.
Our guided walk ends at the Ara Pacis, a great altar of peace built by Augustus in 13 BC and reassembled in the 1930s. We admire its famous frieze depicting the imperial family, and senators in procession.
The afternoon in free for us to explore the Eternal City at our leisure, before reuniting for a jubilant farewell dinner with the group.
Our last day in Rome is upon us, and we waste no time in delving in to Ostia Antica, the original port of ancient Rome. Parts of this sprawling site are as well preserved as Pompeii, showing all the remnants of ancient urban life. We view a forum, baths, temples, private houses and tenements, as well as the warehouses and wharves used for storing supplies for the imperial capital.
We then transfer to the airport for our return flights home. Arrivederci Roma!
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
5 nights situated in the heart of ancient Rome. Our hotel is a typical Roman building with wings from many eras looking out on to the high-spirited streets below.
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