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 a resident, English-speaking OAT Trip Leader
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
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.
Then, we'll check into our Rome accommodations an enjoy an included lunch 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, a charming neighborhood of cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and a vibrant nightlife scene. We'll enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant in this atmospheric Roman neighborhood.
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. Your Trip Leader will invite you to join him or her in discovery walks through various districts of the Old City to seek out some of Rome's lesser known landmarks. Or, you may wish to strike out on your own, perhaps to visit 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.
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 as we discover the untouristed Testaccio district this morning. We begin with a visit to the Cimitero Acattolico, final resting place of Romantic poets Keats and Shelley, among others. Continuing on, we view the Commonwealth Cemetery, honoring 4,000 World War II soliders fallen during the Battle for Liberation of Rome. We’ll sample traditional street food and interact with locals in a visit to centuries-old Testaccio Market, before we visit the ancient slaughterhouse of Rome, which has been transformed into a cultural center. Then, enjoy a hike on a man-made “mountain,” the Monte del Cocci. After lunch in a local restaurant, we return to our hotel this afternoon.
We'll also enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to Rome.
Enjoy the day to make your own discoveries, or your Trip Leader is sure to invite you to join him or her on discovery walks in various locales in Rome. You might also wish to head out to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel on your own. 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.
This evening, we'll enjoy a discovery walk to Portico d’Ottavia, a neighborhood near the Tiber River that has been at the heart of Rome’s Jewish ghetto for half a millennium. We'll enjoy our final dinner together at a local restaurant in this historic area and toast the discoveries of our time in Rome.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.