Rome – what a city! Andy Warhol said it’s what happens to a city when it gets old, and they don’t get much older than this. No other city can claim such cultural continuity, from the Etruscans through the Romans to the Popes and the modern green politicians of the 21st century.
Start the day in the Colosseum with the ghosts of the gladiators, then stroll through the Roman Forum in the steps of emperors and vestal virgins. Climb the Capitoline Hill to the Campidoglio Square designed by Michelangelo, then continue up onto the massive monument to Victor Emanuel II. From here Rome lies all around you, from the towers of St John Lateran to the dome of St Peters, along the Via del Corso to the gate of the Via Flaminia where for over a thousand years pilgrims have entered Rome from the north.
Rome is a city where you don’t have to seek out art galleries to see the art – it is all around you. Fountains by Bernini, beautiful baroque squares such as the Piazza Navona, and apartment blocks built into Roman theatres. The churches are treasure troves as well. Take Santa Maria del Popolo under the Pincian Hill. Built on the site where Nero’s ashes were scattered, a church later arose. In it is a chapel designed by Raphael and completed by Bernini, another decorated by Pinturrichio and an altar with two stunning Caravaggios.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, there is the Vatican City, the Pope’s own country. Besides the Sistine Chapel there are Raphael’s Rooms, including the School of Athens, the greatest celebration of how the classical world was reborn in Renaissance Rome. St Peter’s Basilica itself contains Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s wonderful tomb of Pope Alexander VII.
Rome also offers a taste of the sweet things in life. You can visit the morning market of the Campo dei Fiori in the heart of the city, and pause for a shot of coffee. There’s great food to be found in local restaurants, and small delicatessens with lots of very good food to take home. Or just stand and watch sunset on the Pincian Hill, stroll the narrow streets around the Pantheon and grab a gelato.
We will also have the opportunity to take a day or two out of the city, to Tivoli for the water gardens of the Villa d’Este and the ruins of Hadrian’s elaborate villa. Ostia Antica offers a pleasant day out to an Ancient Roman city by the sea. This is perhaps the best place to get an idea of life in Ancient Rome.
We stay in the centrally but quietly located Hotel Albani, a short stroll from the Villa Borghese, Rome’s largest central open space and offering easy access to all the sights. Dinners will be taken in the hotel and in local restaurants.
Please note we include a trip through the Forum with a professional local guide, perhaps the best way to bring the ancient ruins to life.