Due to the fact that in its millenary life Rome was often destroyed and rebuilt in the same place, we can say that the modern Rome is built on top of the ancient one.
Everywhere we walk in the city put our feet above the remains of previous human activities: mosaic floors, fresco paintings, statues, columns, inscriptions, tombs. We don’t see them, but they are there, buried beneath the sediment of the time.
Below I listed a few archeological sites, excavated last century, which show very well evidence of the hidden growth of the city. If you are interested let’s see two of them and do an incredible journey back in time through the centuries!
The S. Clemens’ basilica, a church upon a church upon two roman buildings;
The Catacomb of Priscilla, house of the oldest iconography of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Child;
The Roman houses under the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo, place of martyrdom of two saints;
The Crypta Balbi, the backstage area of a theatre under a city block;
The Domus Aurea, a small gorgeous sample of the residence of the emperor Nero.
The Trastevere district looks like a medieval village with authentic folksy atmosphere that fascinate for the variety of colors, sounds and shapes.
It’s a picturesque area that combines the beauty of the humble architecture to the variety of the little shops in the streets and where pizza places, restaurants and coffee bars follow up likewise a merry go round.
Besides the magical atmosphere of the neighborhood we are going to see also extraordinary least-visited masterpieces of art by entering churches and noble mansions: the Galatea by Raphael, the Tempietto by Bramante, the basilica of S. Maria in Trastevere.
The Janiculum hill will be included in our tour as well: plenty of several patriotic monuments, the romantic view from the top encompasses all of the historic center of Rome and it’s one of the most breathtaking of the Eternal City.
A special tour off the beaten path, dedicated to a different Rome, less majestic, more intimate, very human.
We’ll visit three main basilicas which relevance is second only to S. Peter in the Vatican: St. Paul outside the wall, St. John in the Lateran, St. Mary the Major.
They were built long time ago with imposing architecture and with precious materials, and still today are splendid churches where art and faith are visibly interlaced.
We start exploring St. Paul outside the wall: for centuries it had been the largest roman basilica. The holy tomb of Saint Paul, who was never a pope, is preserved under the main altar surrounded by medallions with the portraits of all the popes to this day.
Soon after we enter the basilica of St. John in the Lateran, this was the official pope’s church for a millennium and is considered the mother church of all churches in the world; the most beautiful statues of the apostles ever carved in marble are here.
Last but not least St. Mary the Major, the main basilica in Rome dedicated to worship Mary Mother of God: it was built 431 A.D., its interior is one of the richest and best preserved in Rome.
Rome’s Jews first arrived in Rome in the second century B.C., but, although they are the oldest Jewish community in the world outside the Holy Land, because of various events happened most of all last century nowadays the visible memories of their bi-millennial presence in Rome are mainly concentrated in the area around “Via del Portico d’Ottavia” where in 1555 the “Ghetto” was set and still today many Roman Jews live and meet.
Over the years the area has grown into a beautiful neighborhood that combines jewish culture with the grandeur of Roman architecture.
To re-enact the long history of the Rome’s Jews we’ll take a walk in this area focusing on the signs and evidences of the Jewish past and present and in order to learn more we’ll visit the beautiful Great Synagogue: of orthodox cult, built in eclectic style in 1905, it includes the small but very rich Museum that houses many memories of the hebraic tradition, art and artisans.
A panoramic tour by car of Rome is a great way to have a synthetic and meaningful idea of the city.
Spectacular architecture, green terraces overviewing roofs and domes, winding streets with unexpected artworks behind the corner, memories of a long long history everywhere: this is Rome!
Thanks to the drive we will be able to see all its major sites while re-enact the history, events and characters behind them.
We’ll make several stops in the best places to enjoy the beauty of the sceneries and to have an in-depth look of the complex and fascinating urban planning of Rome, so that at the end of the tour the Eternal City will be more familiar to us.
In this tour we are going to see: the Coliseum from the outside (on request we can go inside), the Roman Forum, the Circus Maximus, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, Plaza Navona, the Victor Emmanuel’s monument, the S. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Bring your camera!
Downtown Rome has always something special to tell you: shops, palaces, ancient monuments, fountains. All the streets are like an open air museum and behind every corner there’s a surprise!
The walk in downtown is a proposal to experience the various atmosphere of the Eternal City, to capture the essence of its long history and to see what makes it one of the most theatrical city in the world.
We’ll enjoy the elegant design of Piazza del Popolo, the Fountain of the Rivers by Bernini in Plaza Navona, the Trevi Fountain where you are supposed to toss a coin to make your wishes true, the Spanish square with its glorious Steps and famous shops, the perfect geometry of the Pantheon.
Our pace will be slow and relaxing in order to do a promenade where the as-it-comes inspiration has its way, so that every footstep in this tour will be fun.
The Coliseum is the most iconic architecture of the pagan Rome: model for many current stadiums, it was built to entertain the people with cruel shows which were performed in the arena by gladiators and wild animals. This monument is one of the reasons to visit Rome and one of the most exciting tours you can do.
Also utterly interesting are the surroundings that we may explore soon after: the Palatine hill, the Capitoline hill, the Roman Forum, the Imperial Fora; a huge area which corresponds to the monumental center of the old city where you can see the Arch of Constantine, the Arch of Titus, the Basilica of Massenzio, the Circus Maximus and the remains of the Imperial Palaces, the Roman Senate, the Altar of Julius Caesar, the Marc Aurelius’ horse-riding statue, the Trajan’s column.
Whether we follow one path or another will depend on your interest: in any case the visual legacy of the key monuments spread in the area will always impress us and take us back to the times Rome was the capital of the largest empire ever known.
We can explore the Ancient Rome doing a tour by air-conditioned car: such a mix of ancientness with contemporaneity sounds weird, but I am sure you will love it, particularly if you visit Rome on summertime!
Getting in and out of the car, with full facility and great saving of time, we can visit several famous ancient sites spread around the city a distance from one another that usually you don’t get to see in a regular walking tour.
In fact, besides the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, venues listed in every Ancient Rome walking tour, we could decide to see also the Capitol Hill, or the Circus Maximus, maybe the Pantheon, or the Roman Wall, the Appian way, the Aqueducts or the Thermal Baths, or any other monument you may like to include.
You have a very wide choice and we will build up the schedule together, either before the tour or on the spot as well.
This is a very comfortable tour: we want to avoid the stress and make the Ancient Rome pure pleasure of the eyes!
Let’s visit a monument that changed many times during the centuries and it’s considered one of the most emblematic buildings of Rome.
Built originally by the emperor Hadrian as his own imperial Mausoleum, soon became the stronghold to control the city and in the Middle Ages took the name Saint Angel Castle; in the Renaissance was a papal fortress, then a political prison, eventually a place for capital executions until 1870.
Nowadays it’s a museum where the long history of the Eternal City written by the emperors, popes, aristocracy, roman people goes back to life; a building to which the engineering “know how” of the Romans and the creative elegance of the renaissance artists had given a style definitely unique.
The tour ends up to the huge “terrace of the angel” that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Consider doing a round-trip from Rome to Pompeii or Herculaneum, or if you transfer by car between Rome and the Amalfi coast plan to stop on the way.
This is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions.
In Pompeii or Herculaneum you will enjoy archaeological sites miraculously preserved by the Vesuvio’s ashes in a two-hour tour conducted by a local english speaking expert guide.
The experience is definitely unique: visiting the must-see highlights of these vast celebrated ruins you will be full immersed in the habits, lifestyles and peculiarities of the Ancient Rome as you tour the market areas, food-stalls, typical roman homes, brothels, temples, thermal baths, theaters still showing the original ornamentations.
Optionally you can add the visit of the National Archeological Museum of Naples where the wonderful items found in the excavations are preserved. For lovers of antiquity, this museum by itself is a worthwhile stop.
Light lunch of your choice.
The Umbria-Tuscany countryside spreads between Rome and Florence with enchanting hill towns and spectacular landscapes.
Do a round-trip from Rome to explore this famous region, or better, if you transfer by car between Rome and Florence plan to do some stop on the way.
It’s a unique area famous for the sceneries, art, architecture, food and wine….I’m sure you know here you find many farms to do wine tasting!
My favorite towns, really worth seeing for their unique atmosphere: Orvieto because of its Gothic Cathedral, Siena celebrated all over the world because of the Palio, the spectacular horse race that take place in Piazza del Campo, S. Gimignano well-known for its tower-houses, Pienza because is a perfect example of “ideal renaissance city”.
Ask for more details if you want to explore the Umbria-Tuscany countryside, I will be happy to work together in order to customize either your daily excursion or your transfer by car.
About two hours drive north of Rome, a jewel of the medieval hill towns, Assisi is where San Frances and Saint Claire, messengers of poverty and simplicity, were born, lived and died in the early 13th century.
The little city has narrow streets full of art crafts shops and art galleries, its houses and monuments are built with soft pink marble, everywhere there is a serene atmosphere.
We’ll see the Basilica of Saint Clare with her tomb, the Porziuncola’s church where Frances accepted his vocation, the Basilica of San Frances where we’ll enjoy the Saint’s life painted by Giotto on the wall, masterpiece of the Middle ages frescoes, and eventually we’ll visit the crypt that houses San Frances’s body, the target of countless pilgrims for centuries.
A light lunch with local food will make the excursion perfect.
Note that the visit of Assisi can be easily included in your transfer by car between Rome and Florence.
We’ll go to Cerveteri, a little village an hour drive north of Rome, to learn about the Etruscans, a pre-Roman population who had a great influence on the Ancient Rome.
We’ll explore the necropolis whose tombs, mirroring the homes of the inhabitants, reveal the social organization of the etruscan society. This perfectly preserved ‘city of the dead’, shaped in volcanic stone, has been declared Unesco World Heritage because it’s one of the most unbelievable example of archaic cemetery.
After the necropolis we enter the little etruscan museum which is housed in a medieval fortress: we’ll see the items that were found in the tombs, handmade artifacts that are featuring many aspects of the everyday life: urns, jewelry, potteries, ceramics, carvings of bronze and marble.
This mysterious and fascinating civilization that existed 25 centuries ago still communicates with us today!
Lunch in a restaurant on the sea or back to Rome soon after the visit.
An hour drive from Rome we see Tivoli, a little hill side town in the Rome’s surroundings with an intact medieval core and two major sites: the ancient villa of the Emperor Hadrian and the renaissance gardens of Villa D’Este.
We’ll visit the impressive ruins of Hadrian’s Villa, where natural beauty and architectural creativity blend together in a magic place designed by the emperor first and then by the time.
Then we’ll go ahead to the center of the town to have a walk through the winding middle ages streets and visit Villa D’Este, built by a cardinal who had great aspiration to become a pope, and famous for its amazing gardens ornamented with more than 200 fountains, nothing less than a feast for the senses.
Optionally, to those that like trekking, I warmly suggest to include the walk through Villa Gregoriana as well, with waterfalls, caves, ancient ruins and wild views, one of the most romantic gardens in Italy!
Stop at your choice for a light lunch or a drink to make a perfect relaxing excursion.
Let’s drive south-east of Rome to explore the area called Roman Castles: it’s a green volcanic complex with two lakes where since the days of Ancient Rome well-to-do Romans have had summer homes. Emperors first, then popes, cardinals, princes.
The volcano ahead, the arches of the aqueducts to the side, in 30 minutes we’ll see the lake, a few small villages spread around, renaissance villas, gardens, vineyards. Among the many sites my favorite are Castel Gandolfo and Ariccia.
Castel Gandolfo, summer resort town of the popes is a must-see; I definitely suggest to visit the papal residence recently opened by Pope Frances. The city of Ariccia, with the superb architecture by Bernini is outstanding as well: the ducal palace created for the Chigi Family in 1600s still has the original furnishings!
The area is definitely famous for its traditional cuisine and local wine, so that a lunch of your choice or a wine tasting can be easily included.
Ostia followed the same destiny of Rome either in its greatness and in its decadence. Important colony because of the salt flats first, then main sea-trade harbor of the empire, in the Middle Ages totally abandoned, covered by the mud for a long time, until last century was beautifully excavated.
Ancient Ostia is today one of the best examples of an ancient Roman town in all of Italy, second only to Pompeii and Herculaneum. It’s located less than an hour driving outside Rome.
Being a port town, Ostia accommodated people, maybe 50.000, from all over the known world and in our tour everything will take us back to the daily life of a rich cosmopolitan seaport.
Wandering among the ruins we’ll discover shops, houses, thermal baths, warehouses, the amphitheater, a forum with temples, a bakery and more than this, learning a lot of the Ancient Rome.
Magical site, really off the beaten path, the visit is one the most amazing archaeological scavenger hunt.
During the early decades of the 1600s, the realistic style of Caravaggio upsets the artistic circles in Rome and influences the style of painting of the European artists.
A controversial artist when he was alive, today all the scholars agree his art stands alone in its quality and originality. Rome contains a large selection of his works, visible inside churches and museums.
In this tour we focus specifically on Caravaggio’s work that lies in the places that they were originally created for: we will see the celebrated series of Saint Matthew in the church of St Luigi de’ Francesi, the Pilgrim’s Madonna in the church of St Agostino and the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo.
We will be extremely involved in the dramatic spirituality of Caravaggio but also will discover many other splendid works of art.
Rome begun to be modernized after 1870, when it became the capital city of the Kingdom of Italy.
At that moment, when the pope stopped to be the king of Rome, the Eternal City started to be ruled by the Savoia family till the end of WWII.
To understand where new streets and new monuments were built to show the new roman leadership and how Rome changed its look of old city into a modern one, moving by car we will go looking for those buildings that still today rise above the others because of their location, dimensions, design.
We explore particularly two monuments: the Vittoriano, key monument of the monarchic ideology dedicated to the King Victory Emmanuel, and the EUR district, designed in order to celebrate the greatness of Rome and of the dictator Mussolini.
Although the itinerary will focus strongly on architecture and sculpture, we will use this as a lens to discuss the concepts of Italian contemporary history (1870-1945).
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