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NEW! Tuscany & Umbria: Rustic Beauty in the Italian Heartland 2014

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Trip Extensions

Post-trip: Rome, Italy

From atop the ancient Roman walls to the martyred saints buried in catacombs far beneath the city, Rome delights on many levels. Join us in exploring Rome’s highlights and hidden gems … ancient, bubbling fountains … cobbled plazas lined with espresso cafés … and awe-inspiring monuments from the days of the Roman Empire. Together, we’ll discover the rich, unparalleled history of the Eternal City, along with the vibrant culture of the modern Italian capital.

It's Included:
Accommodations for 4 nights in Rome
8 meals—4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners
5 small group activities
Services of an OAT Trip Leader who speaks English and the native language
All transfers
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    This morning, we transfer to Rome to begin your extension in the Eternal City. We’ll kick off our discoveries with a 2-mile-hike along Rome's ancient Appian Way. Originally constructed in the 5th century BC, this was the widest and longest road of its time. Then, we'll visit the ancient catacombs that lie beneath the city. These ancient burial places, many of which feature elaborate tunnel systems, contain frescoes and sculptures as remarkable as the history of the catacombs themselves: Many believe this is where persecuted Christians were secretly buried. After our subterranean tour, we’ll return to the light of day and continue on a panoramic drive into town, where we'll view the still-imposing ancient Roman walls and city gates.

    We’ll break from our discoveries for lunch in Garbatella, a colorful Roman neighborhood that is one of the city's true hidden jewels. Then, we’ll check into our Rome accommodations before an afternoon at leisure. Unwind at the hotel, or enjoy time to further explore the city. Later this evening, join your Trip Leader for a 1-mile walk to the Trastevere District, where we gather for an included dinner at a local restaurant.

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    This morning, we set off on a 2-mile hike through the ruins of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Hinting at its former glory, the Coliseum remains the greatest architectural vestige from Imperial Rome. It was here in this massive structure, capable of holding 80,000 people, that the fabled and bloody gladiatorial combats took place. In the Middle Ages, the structure was used as a fortress and later sustained damage from several earthquakes.

    The ancient Roman Forum was Rome's political and commercial center when the city was at the height of its power. It was constructed over some 900 years with various emperors adding and extending temples, monuments, and buildings. Here, the emperors, Roman senators, and consuls met to plan and pass laws that governed Rome—and it remains one of the most powerful monuments to the grandeur of ancient Rome. You will view the Basilica Aemilia (the site of the great meeting hall) and the Curia (the Senate house), as well as other historic sites.
    Enjoy an included lunch at a restaurant in downtown Rome before an afternoon at leisure. You might consider a visit to the popular Piazza Navona, once the stadium of Emperor Domitian, where Romans came to watch agones (games). Today, it is common to see street performers here, providing entertainment for the many visitors from around the world. The piazza is one of Rome’s most impressive Baroque squares, featuring architecture by Borromini and sculptures by Bernini, including the impressive Fountain of the Four Rivers.

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    Today, enjoy more time to explore Rome at your own pace. You might stroll along Via del Corso, an almost mile-long stretch of palaces and shops, or spend time in the beautiful gardens of the Villa Borghese. Or stroll the Campo dei Fiori and explore the piazza with its booksellers, inns, small shops, and colorful morning markets (except Sundays). It is a lively spot by day and night.

    Or, perhaps you’ll join our optional tour through the Castelli Romani (Roman Countryside). Do as the locals do, and leave the bustle of the city behind for the quaint, rural outskirts of Rome. Here, in the rolling Alban Hills, we’ll discover some of the region's charming villages, such as Nemi, Genzano, or Ariccia. We’ll mingle with friendly locals and sample some of the regional specialties as we explore. Then we’ll travel to sparkling Lake Albano, where we’ll get a view of the Pope’s modest summer residence. We’ll also enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to Rome.

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    Enjoy the day to make your own discoveries in Rome. Perhaps you’ll decide to tour the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Started in 1506 by Pope Julius II, the Vatican Museums contain one of the finest art collections in the world. Although it’s impossible to see all of the vast collection, you can find many of the priceless treasures acquired by the church over centuries. Following the grand corridors of the museum, continue to the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, which contains the world’s most famous frescoes on its ceiling and one of its walls. Inside, you can admire Michelangelo’s most famous and dramatic masterpieces, including The Creation and The Last Judgment, both of which have been recently restored to fully reveal their majestic glory.

    Gather tonight for dinner at a local restaurant to toast the discoveries of your time in Rome.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.