Italy, Vatican City
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Whether an artist or amateur archeologist, a lover of food or spirited adventurer, your custom tailored tour immerses you in the splendor of Rome, a city in which every step tells you another tale in time. The subterranean tunnels of the necropolis beneath the Vatican lead you to the tomb of St. Peter. The scent of roasted espresso emanates from charming cafes with tables set along cobblestone streets. Fountains crafted by Bernini come second only to palaces designed by Michelangelo. Ancient life...
Rome – A Roman Welcome
The glory of Rome emerges out of ancient roots and continues to spread across Western Civilization. Iconic ruins rise amidst the contemporary bustle of the streets and cafes. Baroque palaces and dramatic fountains add layers of luster to the captivating history inside the historic city center. Your private transfer meets you at Fiumicino Airport upon your arrival and escorts you to an opulently renovated palace in the heart of the city, filled with reminders of the hotel’s once decadent past. Antique furniture accentuates the gilded window frames and the polished marble floor. After settling into your hotel, you meet your private transfer in the lobby.
Rome’s prestigious past and vibrant present welcome you along the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways bordered by antique homes. Your walking tour leads you to Piazza Navona, originally a 1st-century AD athletic stadium, used for chariot races in the 15th century. Gorgeous baroque palaces surround the oval shaped piazza. A breeze brushes over the cobblestones and carries a refreshing mist off the fountains. An Egyptian obelisk ascends from the center of the Fountain of the Four Rivers, a work of art crafted by Bernini featuring the major rivers of the world represented in allegorical figures. The scent of creamy carbonara pasta emanates from the cafes at the edge of the square.
Rome – An Ancient View
Rome was famously made up of Seven Hills, with the regal beauty of the powerful city spanning the undulating landscape. Capitoline Hill remains the only visible hill at the heart of ancient Rome. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby after breakfast and escorts you to the edges of what remains of the imperial city. Standing beneath the Colosseum, you understand the captivating power the structure held over visitors near and far in the ancient world. The outer walls reach a height of more than 155 feet tall and once supported massive masts for a canopy shading upwards of 50,000 spectators.
Your guide leads you through the archways, down the tunnel and into the bright light washing over the stadium’s center. A wooden platform dusted with sand once covered the central arena. The subterranean walls beneath where the platform once stood craft a maze where gladiators trained and wild animals waited for their time on stage. The scent of antique stone emanates from the stands and the walls. After wandering through along Via Sacra, the main street of the Roman Forum lined with remnants of pristine temples and decorative columns, you climb the gorgeous stairs leading to Piazza del Campidoglio, a square set between the peaks of Capitoline Hill. The piazza combines the wonders of ancient Rome with the beauty of the Renaissance as embodied in the architectural designs of Michelangelo.
Rome – Brilliance of the Borghese
At breakfast, you sit in the comforts of your lavish hotel, sipping a rich and refreshing espresso in the Italian tradition of starting your day. The aroma of fresh brioche accompanied by orange and strawberry jams fills the dining room. You meet your guide after breakfast and venture to the stunning grounds of the Villa Borghese. In the 17th century, Pope Paul V transformed the former vineyard into a public park. The verdant grounds encompass 148 acres, and the space is often referred to as Rome’s Central Park. Romans visit the trails in the morning to job or walk in the fresh greenery daily.
A replica of the Temple of Aesculapius edges the duck pond. Willow trees dangle their branches into the water, and geese glide over the surface with ease. Cardinal Scipione Borghese was an avid art collector in 16th and 17th centuries. The wonders of his private collection fill the galleries of the neoclassical villa overlooking the gorgeous park. Intricate mosaics from Roman mansions stand beside extravagant frescoes, each accentuated by the lavish marble floors and embellished stucco walls. The entrance hall contains a 4th-century mosaic depicting gladiators beneath a gravity defying bas-relief of a horse and rider. You make your way through the galleries to find the breathtaking work of Caravaggio, including Boy with a Basket of Fruit, portraying a young, beautiful model holding a bunch of luxurious, exotic fruits.
Rome – The First Half of the Vatican
The Vatican separated from Rome in the 1920s, establishing Vatican City as one of the smallest countries in the world, encompassing 109 acres. The dome designed by Michelangelo crowns the remarkable figure of St. Peter’s Basilica, which was consecrated in the 17th century. Decorative columns frame the oval piazza standing before the basilica entrance. An Egyptian obelisk referred to as the “The Witness,” stands 130 feet above the cobblestones in the heart of the piazza, and was first taken from Egypt in the 37 AD to decorate the Circus of Nero. Your guide leads you to the steps of the necropolis beneath the basilica to experience one of the most exclusive tours in all of Rome.
The walls are cool to the touch, taking you down beneath the city surface, safe from the Mediterranean climate throughout the year. The necropolis dates back to the 4th century AD and once stood below the temple of Emperor Constantine. Your guide points to ancient graffiti adorning the walls that translate to “Peter is here.” The opulence of the cathedral, along with the faint aromas of frankincense and myrrh, fade in the stairway leading down to the catacombs. The labyrinth of tunnels fills with the damp aroma of ancient earth and stone. You reach the small area in which St. Peter resides, located near the Red Wall and surrounded by tombs placed in a style representing veneration. The brick walls open into a doorway in which you can see the resting place as the man known as the Prince of the Apostles.
Rome – Another Day in Vatican City
In the morning, Rome returns to its bustling character with locals sipping stopping at their local corner café to sip espresso before work. The scent of rich, freshly brewed coffee drifts along the cobblestone streets and blends perfectly with the sweet aroma of brioche emanating from the newly opened bakeries. Your guide meets you at the hotel, and you return to what have become the familiar grounds of Vatican City. The Vatican Museums contain upwards of four miles worth of exhibitions, representing artifacts from ancient Egypt and masterful artwork from the Renaissance. Polished marble floors line the entirety of the galleries and halls, glinting in the reflection of gilded portrait frames and borders.
The Pio Clementino Museum encompasses the largest complex of any of the exhibits in Vatican City. Pope Clement XIV established the collection in the 18th century, which exhibits important Greek and Roman masterpieces now forming 12 rooms. A stunning Roman copy of Lysippus, an original 4th-century BC Greek bronze statue, represents an athlete in the act of wiping sweat from his body. Your guide leads you around the sculpture to take in the intricate, full-body work, representing the entirety of a person from back to front. In Raphael’s Room, you enter into what was once Pope Julius II’s private apartment. The master Renaissance artist Raphael worked on the paintings from 1508 until his death in 1520, crafting the unforgettable School of Athens, considered a love letter to the artistry and creativity of Renaissance masters along with the inspiring brilliance of classical Greece.
Rome – The Continued Opulence of Imperial Rome
In the summer, Romans continue to vacation in the cool air of the hills less than an hour outside of Rome’s historic city center, where the ancient Roman nobles and emperors once visited to escape the summer heat. You meet your private transfer and guide after breakfast and make your way to the charming town of Tivoli, located on the Monti Tiburtini hillside overlooking the Aniene River east of Rome. The marvelous complex of Hadrian’s Villa was erected in the 2nd Century AD and decorated with works reminiscent of the inspiring artifacts and art that enchanted Hadrian during his travels across the Roman Empire. The villa complex encompasses nearly 300 acres and combines the architectural elements of Greece, Roman, and Egyptian heritage.
The villa resembles a lavish garden more than an archeological site. The small baths contain ornate furnishings with hot, warm, and cold temperatures. The area known as the Canopus once contained more than 150 statues lining the canal. The water contains two platforms, which once supported two Roman copies of Greek maritime statues. The rounded edge contains Amazonian statues and a warrior opposite what was once the vaulted banquet hall. The aroma of oak and chestnut trees fills the air. Segments of the arching colonnade remain at the edge of the Canopus. The opulence and charm of the villa captivate you in the remains of the 2,000-year old art and architecture.
Rome – A True View of Rome
In the morning, the sunlight washes over the Villa Medici, a stunning 16th-century mansion located near the Spanish Steps spanning 18 acres of gardens and lavish galleries. The aroma of fresh espresso emanates from the secret blend of beans and spices made in Caffe Sant’Eustachio. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby eager to introduce you to a side of Rome often overlooked by visitors to the Eternal City, beginning with the National Museum. The gallery spans five palaces to create the greatest collection of Ancient Roman art, consisting of frescoes, mosaics, friezes, and sculpture. You begin at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme for an expansive view of Classical-era artwork.
The 19th-century palace retains elements of its aristocratic past but has been renovated to allow visitors to focus on the ancient artifacts. Each piece is a masterwork of expression and character of models and famous Romans. A statue of Augustus Caesar features the renowned figure with a toga pulled over his head as a shawl. The statue connotes the figure’s transition to an assumed priest. A 5th-century BC statue depicts a wounded Niobid. The character reaches for her back in agony after the Roman goddess Artemis’s arrow struck true. After wandering through the preserved opulence of the ancient world, you enter into the modest exterior of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, which contains the extravagant Bernini sculpture of the Ecstasy of St. Teresa.
Rome – Ancient Port of Rome
Flower stands on the corners of Rome offer a sweet aroma to the morning streets, accentuated by the bright petals blossoming against the city’s surrounding stone buildings. After breakfast, you venture to Ostia Antica, once home to the bustling port of Rome. The city was founded along the shores of the Tiber River in the 5th century BC and faded into obscurity after the fall of Rome, before the river silted up. The abandoned streets remain intact on a quintessential grid. Cypress and oak trees grow along the green space overtaking the former forums.
Your guide points out the difference between structures from the Republic versus the Empire. He points to the ground to show the variance in leveled foundations, causing the buildings erected during the later imperial era to be built on higher ground. Mosaics around the former Square of the Guilds were designed in the 2nd century AD. The different art pieces advertise the trades and services of the various shops once lining the street. A lighthouse is the symbol of the Ostia port.
Your guide explains that the elephant represents traders from Africa. You could imagine what each store once offered to interested passersby. The scent of herbaceous chestnut trees blends with the aroma rising upwards from the stone baking in the sunlight. The Forum Baths acted as the social center of the city, decorated with marble steps to lounge on while soaking in the pools. Locals rinsed their bodies with olive oil while standing on a colorful mosaic depicting Neptune riding four houses through the waves.
Rome – Inside Looking Out
On your final morning in Rome, you sip a frothy cappuccino at an outdoor table of Mondi Caffe, a shop known for roasting its own unique blend of beans accompanied by a rich chocolate cones used as cups. Rome returns to life with vespas passing through the streets, joggers returning the verdant trails of Villa Borghese, and the sunlight glinting off the elegant cross crowning St. Peter’s Basilica. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home. You have explored the ins and outs of Rome and still feel you could spend more time basking in the splendor of the Eternal City.
- Venture deep into the foundations of St. Peter’s Basilica to witness the marvels of St. Peter’s tomb located in the necropolis beneath Vatican City
- Enjoy in-depth tours of Roman neighborhoods for a culturally immersive experience that has you living like a Roman
- Wander the preserved streets of Ancient Rome to witness the grand display of the Republic and Empire set in the ruins decorating the contemporary city
- Explore the artistic treasures of the Vatican during a private tour of the Vatican Museums, home to the Pope’s private apartments, ancient artifacts, and works crafted by master artists
- Discover classical artwork in one of the largest collections of Ancient Rome at the National Museum, spread across five locations
- Visit the former bustling port of Ostia Antica for a view into the life and times of a preserved Roman city
- Experience the grandeur of the private art collection in the Villa Borghese, gathered over time through the efforts of Cardinal Scipione Borghese
- Uncover the hidden gem of Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa inside the unassuming church of Santa Maria della Vittoria
- Relish the classic beauty and elaborate décor of an emperor when visiting Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli
Rome has withstood the tests of time for 3,000 years and continues to captivate people from around the world with its consistent relevance. Your 9-day tour of Rome embraces the historic opulence of the Empire, the grandeur of the Republic, the artistry of the Renaissance, and the detail of the baroque. Walk along the tranquil cobblestone streets lining the Tiber River and immerse yourself in the largest collection of classical Roman art in the world. Discover mosaic advertisements of the ancient world and stroll alongside elaborate replicas of Greek statuary sought by emperors. Rome embodies the thrills of the past, which have inspired the contemporary world.
The journey begins with your arrival at Fiumicino Airport where your private transfer greets you at baggage claim. Settle into your luxurious accommodations in the heart of the historic city center inside a former aristocratic palace. Meet your guide in the lobby for an introductory tour of Rome, taking you along the narrow pathways to visit the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Gesu Church, and the Church of San Ignazio. The ancient wonders of Rome fill the next day with the exciting image of the iconic imperial city. Explore the depths of the Colosseum and the first settlements around Palatine Hill. Wander the Roman Forum and explore the stunning piazza and museum of Capitoline Hill.
The following day, you have a fabulous tour of the Villa Borghese to see the stunning galleries exhibiting renaissance and baroque artwork before venturing to Piazza del Popolo and Santa Maria del Popolo. Visit the Spanish Steps and explore the unique Capuchin Crypt. Your guide leads you through the neighborhood of Trastevere for a cultural tour of the streets once on the outskirts of the historic city center. You make your way to Vatican City to begin the first of a two-day exploration of the captivating independent country. Step beneath the foundations of the Vatican to visit the remarkable necropolis before touring St. Peter’s Basilica and the dome. Next, you continue your tour of Vatican City with an encompassing view of the Vatican Museums.
In the afternoon, you wander through the historic grounds of Castel Sant’Angelo, erected as an imperial tomb but converted into a papal palace. Outside the main roads of Rome, you discover the charming town of Tivoli, which is still located in Rome’s metropolitan area. Follow in the footsteps of Roman aristocracy by visiting Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. The next day, you traverse the National Museum of Rome, which contains an inspiring collection of classical Roman artwork spread across five palaces. Follow your artistic sensibilities to the Church of Santa Maria Vittoria. Then, you have a half-day tour of the port city of Ostia Antica before returning to the historic center of Rome to view the magnificent, historical, and artistic churches of the city. On the final day, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.
$2,515 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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