Italy: Rome the Imperial City & Pompeii

Located in central Italy along the Tiber River, Rome has over 2,000 years of history, spanning from a small Latin village to the center of a vast empire, as the founding city of Catholicism, and into the modern capital city of Italy. Today, Rome remains the world’s center of the Catholic Church, the heart of Renaissance and Baroque art, and the home to some of the world’s most astonishing ancient ruins, as it continues to rapidly evolve in the modern world.


Located in central Italy along the Tiber River, Rome has over 2,000 years of history, spanning from a small Latin village to the center of a vast empire, as the founding city of Catholicism, and into the modern capital city of Italy. Today, Rome remains the world’s center of the Catholic Church, the heart of Renaissance and Baroque art, and the home to some of the world’s most astonishing ancient ruins, as it continues to rapidly evolve in the modern world.


Upon your arrival in Rome, you will be met outside of customs by an English-speaking driver who will transfer you privately to your hotel.

After check-in, the remainder of the day is yours with which to explore Rome. Stop for coffee and gelato at a local café, and wander the  city’s narrow streets before dinner this evening.

Located in central Italy along the Tiber River, Rome has over 2,000 years of history that span from its origins as a small Latin village to becoming the center of a vast empire, as the founding city of Catholicism, and the modern capital city of Italy. Today, Rome remains the world’s center of the Catholic Church, the heart of Renaissance and Baroque art, and the home to some of the world’s most astonishing ancient ruins, as it continues to rapidly evolve in the modern world.

We will provide you with restaurant suggestions during your stay in Rome.



After breakfast this morning, you’ll have a private car with an English-speaking driver and guide at your full disposal for an orientation tour of ancient Rome. Your guide will meet you at your hotel at 9:00am.

Your first stop will be the Colosseum, the iconic symbol of Imperial Rome, and a masterpiece of classical architecture. Construction of the Colosseum, which was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and was used for gladiatorial contests, began between 70 and 72 AD. Your tickets are pre-booked to avoid lines at the entrance.

Next, you’ll visit Capitoline Hill (from the Latin word caput, or head), the most important of the seven legendary hills of Rome. From here, you’ll admire the Roman Forum, the largest open-air museum in the world and the true political, social, and economic hub of the city since the days of ancient Rome. An open area surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings, the Forum was the site of ancient elections, processions, and public speeches, and transmits a real sense of ancient Roman life.

Along the front of the hill, you’ll see the Tabularium, the official records office of ancient Rome, which was constructed in 78 BC. Made of huge blocks of porous tufa built into rock, the building dominates the view of the hill from the Roman Forum. Palazzo Senatorio, the palace that stands above the Tabularium, remains the official seat of the mayor of the city and home to the Council of Rome.

You’ll also visit Michelangelo’s superb piece of urban planning, the Piazza del Campidoglio, home to the famous gilded bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which was first documented in the 10th century, when it was believed to represent the Christian Emperor Constantine the Great.

Via Sacra, the main street of ancient Rome running through the Forum to the Colosseum, was part of the route of Roman Triumph, during which the commanders of the Roman armies who were returning from the provinces were welcomed home.

What fascinates most people about Rome is the fact that still, to this day, many of these ancient historical masterpieces are used as common modern buildings. A perfect example is the Theatre of Marcellus, an ancient open-air theatre with a 16th century palace built on top of it.

Have you been told which is the most famous keyhole in Rome?  Or have you even wondered why there is a famous keyhole?  Drive up to the Aventine, the quiet and green hill on the left side of the Tiber.  Now bring your head near a huge wooden door…and spy through the keyhole. The scenery is extraordinary…The Aventine hill is the seat of the chivalric order of the Knights of Malta, the smallest sovereign State in the world!

This chivalric order was founded by a certain Gerard in 1113 to assist pilgrims to the Holy Land. The order was based on the island of Rhodes until 1522 and then on Malta until 1798. Their headquarters are now in Rome and the knights continue to carry out charitable work.

The gardens and the headquarters of this order are not opened to the public but with a special permission we will have the doors of the keyhole opened just for you!

Break this afternoon for a delicious Italian lunch before your tour continues.

Your last guided stop of the day will be the Pantheon, a temple originally built in 27 BC, and rebuilt in 126 AD in honor of all of the gods of ancient Rome. The Pantheon survives virtually intact as the most magnificent symbol of the Roman Empire, with the world’s largest concrete dome. Very little has changed over 2,000 years, from the columns to the marble floor where emperors Hadrian and Charles V once walked.

The guided introduction to ancient Rome comes to an end at 3:00pm. Your guide will discuss additional sites that you may wish to see on your own this afternoon. Set out for the Baths of Caracalla, the largest public bath complex in the whole of the Roman Empire. Visit the Christian catacombs and the monuments and ancient tombs along the Appian Way.  Alternatively, explore the striking Lateran Complex, which includes the Lateran Palace, or Palace of the Popes, the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the first cathedral of Rome. Nearby, you will find the district where locals shop, along New Appian Way.

This evening we will provide you with restaurant suggestions. Enjoy a meal of fresh pasta or simply prepared meat dishes accompanied by local Italian wines.



Meet your private English-speaking driver at 9:30am at the hotel and get ready for a gourmet morning! Rome is characterized by a large variety of places to shop… and you cannot enjoy Rome without visiting a local market. Markets in Rome sell foods, collectables, flowers, antiques… you name and it you can probably find it here in a Roman market!

Your market walk takes place close to the Vatican at one of Rome’s most vibrant markets, the Mercato Trionfale. A destination for locals and chefs alike, the market is one of the largest in Rome featuring more than 250 stalls! You will weave your way through the market where you will see, smell and taste the season’s fresh ingredients including vegetables, cheeses, meats and baked goods. You will discuss the meaning of eating di stagione (seasonally) and how Italian cuisine is connected to fresh produce and traditions. During the tour you will also visit some of the nearby food shops, including a cheese and pasta shop where you’ll have the opportunity to sample and buy some goodies to take home. There will be plenty of time to ask questions, taste and photograph along the way. At the end of the tour, the guide will share some typical recipes and dining selections for a traditional Roman lunch. Buona passeggiata!

Please note: another local market can be selected depending on availability or time of year.

Break for lunch.

In the afternoon you will be transferred to the Vatican. Start the tour with a visit to St Peter’s Basilica, which has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, and is lavishly decorated with marble, featuring splendid sculptures and mosaics of great historic and religious importance.

With your pre-reserved entrance times to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, you’ll avoid waiting in the long lines. Learn about the great artists who helped to embellish one of the most fascinating sovereign states in the world. Visit the Vatican museums, which include some of the world’s most precious artistic and religious treasures, including the Galleries of Maps, Candelabras and Tapestriesthe Raphael Rooms, Pinacoteca, and Michelangelo’s stunning frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

At the end of the tour you will experience the unique emotion of being one of a handful of privileged visitors worldwide to stand alone in the Sistine Chapel for a few minutes and commune with the great master Michelangelo. No pushy crowds, just the sound of silence (vibrations going back 500 years).



You will be met at your hotel this morning once again by private driver and guide, before departing at 9:00am for a tour of Baroque Rome.

Begin with a visit to the Borghese Gallery, one of Europe’s most extraordinary art experiences, and one of Rome’s greatest patrician collections. Surrounded by parks and gardens, Villa Borghese was built in the 17th century as a pleasure house, and later served as a retreat where art was cultivated. The gallery’s masterpieces were commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, who was a passionate art lover and an obsessive collector. Covering all the great periods of art history, Borghese assembled works by the finest talents — Bernini, Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio. To complete your experience, enjoy the Borghese Gardens, which are amongst the most famous in Italy, and offer stunning views over the Piazza del Popolo.

To ensure your return to Rome, stop and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, which was completed in 1762, and is the largest Baroque fountain in Italy.

Next visit Rome’s most romantic square, Piazza Navona, beloved by Romans and visitors alike, and animated by street artists and performers of all kinds. The square is exceptionally long, owing its shape to the ruins that formed it, for under the buildings that surround the piazza are the remains of the Circus Domitianus, Domitian’s stadium. Explore the narrow streets of old Rome stopping to find Pasquino, the most famous of the talking statues in the city. Stop for an espresso at the 18th century Caffe della Pace, a historical meeting point of both famous and local artists.

Drive by the Piazza del Popolo, with its large Egyptian obelisk at the center of the square originally brought to Rome in 10 BC and placed in the piazza by Domenico Fontana in 1589 as part of the urban plan of Pope Sixtus V. Stop at the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, which features masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini.

Continue on your own following the end of your tour at 2:00pm. Your guide will suggest additional activities and a nearby café for lunch.

You can choose to visit the MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, located in Rome’s Flaminio neighborhood.  The building, a Zaha Hadid design which took 10 years to complete, was constructed on the site of the former Montello military barracks and was inaugurated in spring 2010. Inside the Borghese Park you can visit the GNAM, National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, inaugurated in 1883. This is a great area to explore with nice outdoor cafés.

You may wish to finish up some last minute shopping along the Via Cola di Rienzo, another popular local district. Or visit the top of Janiculum Hill, one of the best places in the vicinity to take in the incredible views of the Roman skyline. If you have an interest in gardens, head for the Trastevere district, on the far side of the Tiber River, where you’ll find the Botanical Garden of Rome, as well as several nice restaurants, small boutiques and charming alleyways.

Return to your hotel in time to relax and freshen up before a traditional Roman dinner. We will offer restaurant suggestions this evening as well.



After breakfast this morning, you will be met at 9: 00am by your private driver for a visit along the Ancient Appian way and the Roman castles. Your first stop will be one of the Christian Catacombs (San Callisto or San Sebastiano). These were used by the early Christians as underground cemeteries outside the walls, since burials within the city limits were forbidden. They were often situated on property donated by a wealthy individual, after whom the cemetery was named. They were in use until the 5th century and many martyrs were buried here. The catacombs, which were not systematically explored until 1850, consist of a system of galleries of different sizes and some of them are more than 20 meters below ground level!

You will then proceed to the Roman castles area. This is the area just outside the city favoured by the locals, a landscape dominated by volcanic lakes that form the backdrop to picturesque villages known for the production of wine and other local products. The ideal place for a true taste of Rome! The Castelli Romani area is especially well-known for its cuisine and locally-produced white wine, known as Frascati. You can find comfort and pleasure in one of the local “Fraschette”, taverns only to be found in this zone. There is no finer place to savor the olives, cheeses, porchetta (a savory and moist boneless pork roast) and a whole array of typical Roman dishes.

The Castelli are also renowned for the small towns nestling around its volcanic lakes such as Castel Gandolfo where the Pope traditionally makes his summer residence overlooking the lake of Albano.

You will be driven back to Rome at approx 3:00 PM



After breakfast this morning, you will be met at 7: 30am by your private driver for a day excursion to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. You will drive along the so-called “Highway of the Sun” to reach Pompeii, where, together with an expert local guide, you will visit the incredibly well-preserved ruins of this ancient Roman town, where all life was suddenly stopped in a moment by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79 AD.

Also, along the way, the driver will point out some sights of interest such us the Abbey of Cassino.  St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was also the site of a famous battle in 1944 when the Abbey was bombed because some Allied leaders believed that the Germans occupied the monastery and were using it as an observation point) and above all the Mount Vesuvius, whose eruption caused the end of Pompei almost 2,000 years ago.

Upon arrival in Pompeii you will be welcomed by your professional English speaking guide who will focus on the main highlights of the excavations and will choose the best itinerary possible once inside, accompanied with stories, anecdotes and little curiosities.

After visiting Pompeii you will drive along the world famous Amalfi Coast. The artistic and natural beauty of this area earned it a place in UNESCO’s 1997 World Heritage List. Discovered by the Grand Tourists of the 18th and 19th centuries, it is now one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in Italy and combines stunning natural beauty with fascinating architectural gems as well as local artifacts, excellent restaurants and hotels that range from the simple and charming to some of the most luxurious in the world.

Finally you will have lunch in Positano, considered to be the pearl of the divine coast for its vertical architecture developed on the slopes of a steep cliff overlooking a magnificent emerald colored sea. The small centre of Positano is full of colourful shops selling all the most different local products: “Positano fashion” clothing; ceramics; delicious local lemon cakes. Its parish church dominates the whole village with a magnificent majolica tile paved dome.

Return to Rome around 5:30pm this evening.



Private transfer to airport or train station

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