Meet and greet at the Airport with our tour escort and transfer to the hotel for check in. After that meet, the guide for an orientation tour of Rome including the Mamertine prison (site that records the tradition to be the place where Saint Peter and Saint Paul were imprisoned) and St. Peter in Chains (named for the chains that held St. Peter when he was imprisoned in Rome and in Jerusalem. The church is however best known for the statue of Moses that Michelangelo created for the tomb of pope Julius II). Dinner and overnight at the hotel or nearby.
Breakfast and visit to the Vatican City (length 4hrs approx.). If the tour dates include a Wednesday in Rome, we can escort the group to St Peter’s Basilica for the Papal Audience in the morning and at the end of the Papal blessing, guided tour of the Vatican Museum. Our Tour-guide will lead you through the treasures preserved at the museums also visiting the Sistine Chapel with the masterpieces of Michelangelo, including the Last Judgement, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Transfer back to the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel or nearby.
After breakfast meet the guide at hotel and start the Christian tour with Basilicas of Rome and the Catacomb (length 4hrs approx.). The history of these Basilicas comes together the history of Rome, scaring the religious path, the social events, and the artistic experience: The Cathedral of Rome and the most ancient Basilica of the western world; St John’s Lateran Basilica. It has been funded by Constantine I as the main church of Rome and subsequently converted to the Baroque style by Francesco Borromini. All Popes have been crowned here until 19th century and nowadays it’s the official seat of the Roman Bishop. The large complex around the Church embraces the Lateran Palace, the Major Pontifical Roman Seminary, and the Pontifical Lateran University.
Stop to visit the Holy Stair on the left side of the Square. The Stair that, according to the Christian tradition, was climbed by Jesus to reach the room of the Interrogation with Pontius Pilate before the crucifixion. The 28 steps have been put into effect starting from the highest one, to avoid the builders walk on them and allow only the Pilgrims to kneel on the stair. Proceed to St Paul Outside the Walls Basilica, rising on the legendary burial place of St Paul Apostle, in the middle of an ancient guesthouse on the long way to Ostia.
The Basilica, rebuilt after the fire in 1823, is the second largest Church after St Peter at the Vatican. Here, under the major altar, there’s the tomb of St Paul Apostles and for this reason this Basilica has always been a pilgrimage destination; since 1300 date of the first Holy Year, it has been part of the Jubilee itinerary and seat of the Holy Door’s opening ceremony. After St. Paul outside the Wall Basilica, we’ll visit the Three Fountain Abbey raised on the spot where St. Paul was beheaded by order of the emperor Nero. Legend accounts for the three springs (fontane) with the assertion that, when severed from Paul’s body, his head bounced and struck the earth in three different places, from which fountains sprang up. These still flow and are in the sanctuary. We will end our tour with the visit to one of the Catacombs of Rome. This can be to St Calisto, St Domitila, or St Sebastian. For their importance, the precious heritage of paintings and sculptures, the Catacombs are nowadays visited by thousands of Pilgrims from all over the world. They are authentic archives of the primitive Church, an attestation of the costumes and rituals of how the Christian doctrine was meant and applied.
Back to city centre and visit the Imperial Rome A leap into the Roman Age (length 3hrs approx.). Welcome to one of the most incredible avenues of the world: Via dei Fori Imperiali. It begins from the slopes of Capitol Hill, behind Venice Square. We start with the visit of one of the most impressive, unknown corners of Rome, the Trajan Market (from outside). It is the first huge, historical commercial area, and was a real shopping centre for the Romans!
Miraculously surviving to our modern age, it preserves the signs of the ancient men and women who inhabited it, using its rooms in many ways, almost 2.000 years ago. It has been built on six floors covered with vaults. Partially hidden inside the Esquilino Hill, behind the Trajan Forum, today its ambient impact is not so evident due to the collapsing of most of the walls around, but you should know that it was 40 metres tall during the Empire, with corridors and pedestrian passages connecting into other buildings.
Leaving the markets and the Trajan Columns recounting the Roman victory in Dacia region, we continue walking along the Imperial Forum, admiring the Augustus Forum, Tito’s Arch, Settimio Severo’s Arch, Ulpia’a Basilica, Caesar’s Forum, and Massenzio’s Basilica therefore we come to the magnificent Coliseum, the Flavius Amphitheatre. Once it was completely covered by white marble, surrounded by columns and statues and it was covered by a huge velario (a tent) protecting the public attending the gladiators show from the sun. In the central platform covered by sand, the sad exhibition of the gladiators fighting to survive against the lions, all around terraces for the common people, the balcony for the Emperor and the Senators…all for the delight of the spectators. Dinner and overnight at the hotel or nearby.
After breakfast transfer to Rome Airport where you will depart for the return flight home, filled with new experiences and stories of this tour.