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National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

The museum is housed in the splendid Renaissance villa of Pope Julius III. Today, the National Etruscan Museum can boast one of the largest archaeological collection of its kind. During our Etruscan journey we will see the famous Apollo of Veii, the Sarcophagus of the Married Couple from Cerveteri, the Pyrgi Gold Plaques with inscriptions in Etruscan and Phoenician, and the jewellery collection. It is also possible to enter an Etruscan tomb carved in the tufa stone with its furnishing, and admiring the marvellous frescoes of the Funerary Bed from Tarquinia.

This visit we will allow us to know one of the people, who used to live in the Italian peninsula, still shrouded in mystery.

Guided tour at St. Clement’s Basilica and the Mithraic Area

St Clement Basilica we will allow us to go back to the past, up to Roman times by visiting the three successive places of Christian worship, built one on top of the other between the first and twelfth century, including a well-preserved mithraeum. Indeed, from the twelfth-century Basilica we go down to the fourth-century one to get to the first-century Roman dwelling of Domitian era.

The Roman Houses at the Caelian Hill

Founded in the early fifth century by Pammachius, a Roman senator, the titulus Pammachii or Basilica of SS. Giovanni e Paolo now stands over a magnificent residential complex comprising several Roman houses of different periods.

According to tradition, this was the dwelling of John and Paul, officers at the court of the Emperor Constantine (312-37), both of whom, having suffered martyrdom by execution during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), were buried on the site of their own house. In 1887, Padre Germano, a Passionist brother, excavating beneath the church, uncovered a fascinating site comprising more than twenty rooms, some of which were richly decorated with paintings dating from the third through the twelfth centuries. The sequence of decorated rooms and the maze of stratified structures cut through by the foundations of the church, reveal aspects of Roman daily life with an interesting blend of cultural themes. This monument originated in a variety of building types including an insula or apartment block for artisans, and a wealthy domus, which was subsequently converted into an early Christian church.

Guided Tour at the Caracalla Baths

The red-brick ruins of the Baths of Caracalla are situated southeast of ancient Rome's center. The baths were enormous buildings, with huge frescoed vaults covering the large rooms. This huge 27 acre complex (11 hectares) housed bathing facilities with seats for more than 1600 people. At a time when Rome's crowded tenements had few sanitary facilities, the more than 50 baths in Imperial Rome played an important part in the lives of the Roman citizens. The ritual of bathing was a long process, starting with a hot bath in the calidarium. Next up was the lukewarm tepidarium, followed by the cold frigidarium. Then followed a swim in the natatio, an open air swimming pool. The complex was actually a multifunctional leisure center and also housed gymnasiums, libraries, gardens, art galleries, restaurants and even brothels. The Baths of Caracalla were known for its rich interior which featured marble seats, mosaic covered walls and floors as well as fountains and statues.

The Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums, the oldest museum in the world, opened to the public in 1471. The seat of the government and of the civil institutions ever since, the Capitoline Hill, together with its museums, offers the visitor a wonderful itinerary, such as the Palazzo dei Conservatori, or Councillors Palace, with its Exedra of Marcus Aurelius and Picture Gallery, the Palazzo Nuovo, or New Palace, the Tabularium, namely the ancient Record Office with its Galleria Lapidaria, that houses the epigraphic collection of the museum.

The Borghese Gallery

The grand collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese is housed in his manor built up between 1613 and 1615 after the sixteenth-century Farnesina Villa in Via della Lungara. He patronized the young Bernini and Caravaggio, in the process amassing one of Rome's richest private collections. In our tour we will have the occasion to meet great artists such as Raphael and his Deposition and The Lady with unicorn, Titian with his Sacred Love and Profane Love, Caravaggio and his David and Goliath, The Madonna dei Palafrenieri, San Girolamo and St John the Baptist, Bernini and his Apollo and Daphne, and the Rape of Proserpina, to conclude with Canova and the symbol of the whole Gallery, that is Pauline Borghese.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the sixteenth century. Since then, they are the true compendium of civilisation and the history of arts since prehistory to nowadays. Indeed, from the Egyptian collection, we pass through the Greek and Roman ones to get to the golden age of Italian art, such as the Renaissance period. Our tour will include the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael’s Rooms, it goes without saying, a must of our visit.

Saint Angel Castel

It was built by the Emperor Hadrian to house his own tomb. Today St Angel Castel offers the visitor a fascinating excursion within its walls. To begin with, we will see the ancient imperial structures of the building that throughout the centuries are strictly intertwined with those of Middle Ages period, making the castle one of the most terrible dungeons of the Papal State. During the Renaissance period some artists, such as Perin del Vaga, will wonderfully decorate the Papal apartments with stucco and frescoes. From the last floor of the castle, where the bronze statue of an angel stands, we will admire a breath-taking view of the central part of Rome.

Archaeological Area of Rome: Colosseum-Roman Forum-Palatine Hill

Inaugurated by the Emperor Titus in 80 A.D. the Colosseum is the symbol of Rome and was the most grandiose arena in the ancient world, used to stage gladiatorial contests, hunting spectacles and executions.

The Roman Forum was the religious and political centre of ancient Rome. Walking along the “Via Sacra”, or Sacred Way, you will observe the changes in the city’s public, economic and religious life.

Everything begun on the Palatine Hill, where Romulus founded his city and Emperors built up their palaces. It was here that the rule of Rome spread throughout the world. During our walk we will survey the archaeological evidence of the first settlements of huts, dating back to the eighth century B.C. Then we will go on through the imperial age where Augustus erected his own house, getting to the last period of the Roman Empire.

The Archaeological Area of Ostia

The archaeological area of Ostia Antica is of paramount importance for scholars and archaeologists as it is, together with Pompei, one of the few examples of well preserved Roman town. Together with the monumental area, with its public buildings, we could discover the everyday life conducted by the Ostia inhabitants by visiting their private dwellings, productive structures and corporate associations allowing us to better understand the daily life in ancient Rome.

The Colours of Ancient Rome – The National Roman Museum

Palazzo Massimo

The museum is divided into four sections, each of which houses the largest Roman archaeological collection in the world. The historical seat, the Baths of Diocletian, holds the epigraphic collection of the National Roman Museum, spanning from the Archaic period to the Imperial one.

Palazzo Massimo displays the Roman Portrait throughout the centuries and the marvellous Roman frescoes of Livia’s House and those of the Farnesina Villa too. Among the numerous works of art we will have the chance to admire the statue of the first emperor of Rome, Augustus and the Discobolus. The extraordinary jewel collection shows the high standards of craftsmanship in Roman times. Surprisingly enough, we will see the only existing example of a Roman mummy with its funerary equipment. Palazzo Altemps is without doubt the jewel of Renaissance architecture in Rome. It holds the Boncompagni-Ludovisi collection made up of archaeological finds which have been brought to light during the excavations that occurred during the centuries. Among the sculptures, restored by Bernini and Algardi, we see the Suicidal Gaul, the Ludovisi Throne and the Great Ludovisi Sarcophagus.

Crypta Balbi is the last section of the National Roman Museum, focusing on the last period of the Roman Empire and the first centuries of Middle Ages. The light and airy construction, made of steel, glass and travertine, belie the antiquity of its contents and of what it rests upon. The purpose of this section is to display the changes throughout the centuries, from Augustus onwards, in the urban fabric of the quarter, as well as objects from the domestic and commercial daily life typical of it.

Trastevere and its churches

This itinerary will lead us to the early Christian churches where spirituality and artistic beauty are intertwined. The Tiberina Island boasts the church of St. Bartolomew, built over the ruins of the Roman temple of Aesculapius, the god of medicine. In the Basilica of Santa Cecilia we will admire the frescoes by the gifted artist Pietro Cavallini and the splendid works of art by Arnolfo di Cambio. Then we go down the sixth-century church of St. Benededict in Piscinula, where one can find the smallest belfry of Rome. We conclude our walk in Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is Rome's oldest church devoted to the Virgin Mary and certainly one of the most intimate and charming. Here we will be enchanted by the thirteenth-century apse mosaics by Cavallini.

The Baroque Rome Itinerary

Spanish Steps – Trevi Fountain - Piazza Colonna – Piazza di Montecitorio Hadrian Temple - Church of St Ignatious –Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva Pantheon – Navona Square

We start our walk from the very heart of Baroque Rome, that is Spanish Steps. Then we head down the Trevi Fountain and the church of St Ignatious where the tremendous frescoes of the vaulted ceiling is a masterpiece of perspective game. Just at a stone’s throw from the Church of St Ignatious we visit the only Gothic style church in Rome, namely Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. On our way towards Navona Square we go back to Roman times to visit the Hadrian Temple, the famous column of Marcus Aurelius and the Pantheon.

The Ancient Rome Itinerary

Valley of the Colosseum- Constantine’s Arch - Via dei Fori Imperiali - Piazza Venezia - Piazza del Campidoglio and the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Hill

Our walk will start from the Colosseum Valley where we could admire the symbol of the Eternal City, together with the largest triumphal arch of ancient Rome dedicated to Emperor Constantine. Strolling along Via dei Fori Imperiali, we will reach Piazza Venezia where the imposing white monument, called the Vittoriano, dedicated to the first king of united Italy stands. On the right of the marble monument are the remains of an insula, or block of flats, of the first century A.D. This is the only example of this kind in Rome. The Capitoline Square, which was designed by Michelangelo, and the Roman Forum are the last part of our tour; the Capitol was the head of the world, where the consuls and senators abode to govern the earth, from where, one will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Roman Forum.

Guided tour of the Quirinal Palace

The Quirinal Palace is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Italy. It was designed by a number of well known architects and built over a span of two centuries. In the mid 16th century, the Farnese Pope Paul III was guest at the Villa Carafa on the Quirinal Hill and, while there, he grew to like this part of Rome. This hill, so close the Campidoglio the heart of secular Rome, was secluded amidst greenery and freshened by Rome's westerly breezes, an ideal site he thought for the pope's summer residence. After Paul, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned Mascherino to build the residence, incorporating the Villa Carafa- D'Este into it. Later on, Sixtus V acquired the entire zone and had Domenico Fontana complete the building, more or less as it stands today.Maderno and Bernini carried out some modifications for Pope Paul V at the start of the 17th century, constructing the entrance portal and the Benediction Loggia. All the conclaves of the 19th century were held in this palace and Pope Pius IX was in residence here in 1870 when Rome became Italy's capital.

In accordance with King Vittorio Emanuele II's wishes, this palace eventually became the Royal family's residence and remained so until the 1946 referendum made Italy a republic.

The Criminal Museum of Rome

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Prison Administration set about making public the results obtained from studying crime and from the new prison policy, also with a view to obtaining consensus on the choices made by legislators and administrators: The various exhibitions of materials relating to crime and prison (the exhibition within the sphere of the 1885 Penitentiary Congress and those that followed until 1912) have already shown that the public is enormously interested in the vicissitudes and the phenomena of criminal life. The museum was divided into various sections: The first part is divided into sections corresponding to the main categories of crimes. The second part covers state activities ranging from investigative systems used by the police to the search for evidence to be presented in court. The third part contains everything that regards serving a sentence, from two points of view and therefore in two different sections, one concerning the action taken by the state during the period of the sentence, the other related to the effects of that sentence on the prisoner.

Caravaggio Itinerary

St Luigi dei Francesi

No doubt, the great attraction in the national church of France in Italy is Caravaggio's famous paintings in the Chapel of St Matthew. These are his first great religious work. Maybe the most famous one is his Calling of St Matthew where Caravaggio captures the precise moment of Matthew's conversion from tax collector to Evangelist.

St Augustine

The church's pride is Caravaggio's Madonna del Loreto. His strict realism balked at the tradition of depicting Mary riding atop her miraculous flying house, which landed in Loreto. The house merely suggested by a travertine doorway, where Mary, supporting her Child, is venerated by a some scandalously scruffy pilgrims.

St Maria del Popolo

Legend has it that where the present church now stands, there was a magnificent oak marking the right place where Nero died and was buried. The site was thought to be cursed, but in 1099 the Virgin told the Pope Paschal II to dig up the emperor's bones and build a chapel. On the left aisle of this church, in the Cerasi Chapel, we admire two paintings by Caravaggio: the Crucifixion of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul.

Outside Rome:

Tivoli – Hadrian Villa

Just a few miles away from Rome we will discover three places that have got a lot of stories to be told.

Hadrian Villa was more than that. It rather was a city reflecting the outstanding diversities of the Roman Empire. Here the Emperor wanted this place to be his peaceful refuge, away from the political affairs of Rome and where he could express his love for travelling and arts. It was meant to be a place where he could spend hours in thought.

Tivoli - Villa D’Este

In the very heart of Tivoli, we find the extraordinary Villa D’Este and its gardens. Here fantasy of gods and goddesses, tritons and dashing steeds, set among wild rocks, wind-blown trees and a leaping, glistening rushing cascade of water are the main purpose of our tour.

Cerveteri – Etruscan Necropolis and National Etruscan Museum

The town of Cerveteri has left us the largest Etruscan necropolis which witnesses the culture and use of such an enigmatic people as the Etruscans were. The National Etruscan Museum of Cerveteri is a useful compendium of our visit of the Etruscan land.

Rome by Night

Rome, during the day, shows its treasures of art, to the people visiting the city. In fact the sunny days give even more prominence to these historical testimonies guarded from the Eternal City. But at night, when they turn on the lamp-posts in the road, when the fountains are illuminated making to seem them falls of light, when on the bridges, the light of the lamps gradually increases up to reflect its colours on the Tiber, when the streets of the historical centre are full of people and lights, when monuments, churches and squares put unveil their beauty with the complicity of the obscurity in a magic game of indirect light, it seems that Rome is waitng for the night really to wake up and to make herself beautiful.

First Itinerary:

Piazza di Spagna - Via Condotti - Fontana dei Trevi - Piazza Colonna - Piazza Montecitorio - Tempio di Adriano - Piazza Sant’Ignazio - Piazza della Minerva - Pantheon - Piazza Navona

Second Itinerary:

Piazza Navona - Campo de’ Fiori - Piazza Farnese - Piazza dei Satiri - Ghetto and Portico d’Ottavia Teatro di Marcello and Piazza del Campidoglio with a view on the Roman Forum

Third Itinerary:

Piazza del Colosseo - Arco di Costantino - Via dei Fori Imperiali - Piazza Venezia - Piazza del Campidoglio e affaccio al Foro Romano

Fourth Itinerary:

Piazza Navona - Castel Sant’Angelo - Borgo Pio - Via della Conciliazione - Piazza San Pietro

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