The length of the tours proposed in this section varies more than the walking tours, from 3 to 5 or 6 hours, and the use of a private vehicle is necessary because the sites included are distant one from another. This way, however, you have the opportunity to see various districts of the city that will be shortly described by your expert guide as we drive by.
As we mentioned in our home page Rome derives its present pattern from the underground layers. The Imperial Rome was built on the Republican one, the medieval was built on the Ancient, and the present city is built on the ruins of all its history. The result today is that wherever you want to dig in our city, you may bet you’ll find some roman ruins.
Our tour is designed to give you some evidence of this unique situation. TheCatacombs are cemetery that were totally built underground, where you can see not only tombs, but also crypts, altars, fresco decorations, chapels, and they bring us back to the age of the irruption of Christianity into the Pagan world. We will chose one catacomb along the Appian way.
In the area of San Clemente we descend 60 ft. below the present street level, and at the same time we go back to the middle of the first century AD, and as we climb back to the surface we came back to our time. This fascinating site is really enlightening for the urban history of the Eternal City.
4 Major Basilicas
There are only four churches in the world that may boast the “Holy Door”, an important symbol related to the celebration of the Jubilee, and they are all in Rome: St. John in Lateran, St. Paul outside the walls, St. Mary Major and of course St. Peter in the Vatican. These are among the oldest Christian churches still existing, being all established between the 4th and 5th century. They are the only 4 in the world to have the Holy Door, this important symbol connected with the ceremonies of the Holy Year. They all have very important relics preserved inside. They all are an important museum as well, each one preserving an incredible collection of mosaics, marbles, stucco decoration, paintings, coffered or stucco ceilings, statues both in marble and bronze that cover in total more than 15 centuries of art history. This is an amazing itinerary both by a religious and an artistic point of view. On one side we go back to the spread of Christianity in the culture of the pagan Roman Empire and follow its evolution and traditions up to our era. On the other side we may admire artworks that cover more than a millennium of art history.
Moreover, being these basilicas located in 4 totally different areas of Rome, you get also acquainted with the history and town-planning of the city as you drive by with our expert Tour Guide and expert driver.
Given the importance of these basilicas, the complexity of their structure, the number of works of art on display, and the distance one from the other, this is the only tour that should be considered at least 5 hours long.
One of the many names of Rome is “The City of the 7 Hills” and in this tour we’ll get familiar with some of them. The Capitol hill, the sacred hill of the ancient city now displays a renaissance architectonical masterpiece: the square designed by Michelangelo. But from here we may enjoy an total view of the valley of the Roman Forum and its fascinating ruins. From the top of the Aventino hill we’ll enjoy the view of two of the most impressive structures of the Imperial Rome: the valley of the Circus Maximus will be at our foot and the imposing ruins of the imperial palaces ( or Caesars’ Palace ) just in front of us, on the hilltop of the Palatine. Entering the Colosseum (or Flavian Amphitheater) you will be guided through the biggest “Stadium” ever built by the past civilizations (mind: the Roman meant a different building with the word Stadium) where the most spectacular gladiators’ fighting were taking place.
A drive around the public Caracalla’s Thermal Baths will help you to understand not only the complex structure of these enormous “sporting clubs” but also their function in the Romans every-day life.
… our caring driver will pull over in front of each one of these sites so that you may listen to our commentary, take a few picture, and then we’ll rush smoothly to the next one. Very easy, isn’t it?
Angels & Demons
Based on both the bestselling novel by Dan Brown and the recent successful movie starring Tom Hanks, this tour is designed to bring you to the “real” places where the preferiti cardinals of the conclave were killed by the mysterious assassin paid by the last heirs of the Illuminati brotherhood. Following the “Illuminati path” the “crime scenes” of the novel are: thePantheon, Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Maria della Vittoriachurches, St. Peter’s square, Piazza Navona (square) with its fantastic fountain, Castel Sant’Angelo ( St. Angel’s Castle). Our car will not be one of the Lancia shown in the movie, nor one of the Alfa Romeo described in the book driven by the Swiss guards… but a Mercedes driven by our professional licensed driver. We will remind you the story, but also give our commentary on these wonderful sites so rich of world art: Raphael’s earthly tomb, Caravaggio’s paintings, Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Theresa”, the “papal window”, Borromini’s St. Agnes’façade … and all the rest. Didn’t you read the book? Didn’t you see the movie? It doesn’t matter! This will be a nice excuse to visit some of the most important highlights of the Eternal City and go through its complex history with your expert Guide, and then, when you come back home … probably see the original movie with Tom hanks on your DVD player!
For this tour the use of a private driven car is strongly recommended and this can be combined with the Vatican Tour (another half-day) for a full perspective and particularly the visits of the Sistine Chaple (where the Conclave takes place) and St. Peter’s Basilica (where the anti-matter bomb is placed and “the bad” dies).
I’m short of time
On this tour we are very flexible because some of you may have already been here and in this case we propose you something else, or because your short time may mean 3 hours as well as 6 hours! In any case our objective is to keep the visit to each of the sites quick, and our commentary short, and to take the most possible advantage from the use of a private driven sedan. This is just a list of the highlights we can visit together. The Capitol Hilland square, Imperial fora, Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus, Marcellus theater, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Navona square, St. Peter’s square and Basilica, Trajan’s Colum, Caracalla’s public thermal baths, ruins of the Imperial palaces on the Palatine hill, theSpanish Steps.
We may decide the “must see” together when we meet, depending on your interest, and time available … and stamina!
Jewish Heritage Tour
The Jewish community of Rome is the most ancient in the world outside of Israel: 22 century of uninterrupted Jewish presence in our city!
We have evidence of this, in the popular Trastevere district and on the Tiberina island but of course mainly in the area of the former ghetto of the 16th century and the archaeological area of the Portico d’Ottavia. A meeting with a representative of the present Jewish community of Rome will take place in the Synagogue and annexed museum. We may then continue our tour around the Colosseum and end up with the view of the impressive Moses sculpted by Michelangelo for the pope Julius II.
San Clemente and the complex of S.S Giovanni e Paolo
Explore two of Rome’s many underground buildings and literally “get in touch” with the unique architectural stratification of this city.
Only at San Clemente is it possible to see first-hand the layers of almost 20 centuries of history in the ground itself. The monument is the result of three superimposed buildings, erected one on top of the other: 11 meters underground lie two Roman buildings dating from the 1st century A.D., subsequently transformed into a Mithraic temple; above it, an early Christian basilica was built in the IV century A.D.; and then the Medieval church, still in use today, was erected in 1108. Our tour continues with the complex of a Roman house below the church of S.S.Giovanni e Paolo. The patrician house dates back to the III and IV centuries A.D. and consists in many rooms and an indoor garden. Recently restored and open to the public, the house offers a fascinating tour through the depth of an ancient city.
Duration of the tour: 3 hours
You can add an extension to the Christian Catacombs: Our tour is designed to give you some evidence of this unique situation. The Catacombs are cemeteries that were totally built underground, where you can see not only tombs, but also crypts, altars, fresco decorations, chapels and they bring us back to the age of the irruption of Christianity into the Pagan world.
The Romantic Age in Rome
“It may make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.” This is what Percy B. Shelley remarked about the Protestant Cemetery by the Pyramid of Caius Cestius – the latter one of the most famous landmarks in the south-western suburbs of Rome that amazed all Grand Tour travellers. In the 1700s, Papal Rome was visited by more and more North European well-to-do travellers and had several Protestant residents: ambassadors, members of the clergy . Consequently the need arose to give them a decent burial place outside the Aurelian Walls, as the Papal law prescribed for the non-Catholic. The appeal to be buried next to an ancient roman Pyramid tomb became a melancholic yet appeasing spot elected by the Protestant community of artists and aristocrats for their last sleep.
The “bright star” of the cemetery is John Keats, who spent the last three months of his life in Rome, trying to recover from tuberculosis, of which he died at only 25 in 1821. Shortly afterwards Shelley joined him. He drowned in a shipwreck off the Tuscan coast in 1822. His ashes are here while his heart is in Dorset, England. To learn more about the “Romantic Connection” in Rome we can move on to the Spanish Steps and visit the apartments where Keats and the portrait artist Joseph Severn lived in 1821 -today museum and library – The last drawing of Keats by Severn, Lord Byron’s Carnival wax mask, John Milton’s locks and many more relics await your inspection. After the tour you’ll surely need to comfort yourself with a nice strong cup of tea or a gin and tonic : walk to the other side of the Spanish Steps and slip into Babington’s Tea Room. Funded by Miss Isabel Cargill and Miss Anna Maria Babington in 1893, it made available to the English residents the precious “drug”. – i.e. tea- which was sold only at chemists’ at the time!