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Rome has been the pivot of so many of the world’s great historical events, the node of so much culture that it’s easy to find approaching it quite daunting. Where do you begin? What are the key places to visit to make the most of your time without being rushed? How can a new visitor avoid missing some hidden gem when hurrying along the well-trodden tourist paths? How, in short, can I take in the magnificence of the eternal city at the right pace, without having to think of where to get the right food and wine? That’s what this tour will give you. We have designed it for those new to the city, who want a strong cultural and historical introduction to the city in a shorter space of time than our normal tours, while maintaining the same reliable level of expertise and the full aesthetic and sensory experience you’d expect. If you’ve been before but want to gain a deeper appreciation of the city’s most iconic monuments and most telling back stories that comes with our expert guides, this tour is also for you.
Rome’s history stretches back for millennia, but choosing the right locations means we can give you a rich and impressive introduction to the many threads of her history. Visiting the Roman Forum, we’ll carry you from the earliest days of Rome and the foundation of the Republic, through its violent death-throes and the rise of the Empire and the end of the ancient world. You’ll see the great and lavish monuments of the emperors, built to their own glory or for the entertainment of their people, whose remains inspired the centuries after the empire fell. The exquisite Pantheon and the majestic Colosseum filled them with awe, as they will you. The later ages of Rome’s history won’t be neglected – you’ll see the refined churches of the early mediaeval period and the wondrous architecture and painted chapels of the Rome of Michelangelo, as well as the intricately carved fountains and pious ecclesiastical sculpture of the Renaissance and Baroque city. A city with so much to offer should be appreciated, not rushed. We think this is the best eye-opener to begin a love affair with it.
Average rating 5 out of 5 from 372 reviews for The Heart of the Eternal City, according to AITO reviews.
Day 1: Arrival in Rome. Transfer to our hotel located in the centre of the city. Welcome dinner.
Day 2: A rich day of Roman marvels, introducing you to the city’s ancient history. We begin with a tour of the Roman Forum, an archaeological site with a greater concentration of historic events and associations than practically any other. Here, you’ll encounter remains and stories from the beginnings of Roman history, through the adventures of the Republic to the glory of Empire and the Forum’s long mediaeval and modern remaking. So many iconic images and archaeological marvels cluster here that it forms the perfect overture to our tour. After a splendid lunch nearby, we ascend the Capitoline Hill to the Campidoglio, where the very stairs are by Michelangelo, and visit the magnificent Capitoline Museums. One of the world’s greatest collections of Roman art and archaeology, the contents of single rooms outmatch entire museums elsewhere for fame and impact, and the structure itself is partly ancient Roman, including even the great Capitoline temple of Jupiter itself. A thrilling first day, which should leave you thoroughly grounded in Roman culture, and ready for more.
Day 3: A day to bask in the emperors’ impact on Rome and explore one of its most famous and attractive districts. Rather than start small, we begin with the mighty Colosseum, Rome’s most famous monument to imperial munificence, take in its cavernous tiers and gaze out at the fine views it gives of the city. We then descend and make the short journey to the imperial fora, admiring the opulent array of public buildings and temples, richly sheathed in finely-tooled marble, even down to the polychrome marbled pavements, and the most brilliant arena for the display of the imperial image. This amazing site culminates in the celebrated Trajan’s Column, swathed in images of Roman military might. A fine lunch nearby will give time for these wonders to sink in before we add to the day’s aesthetic pleasures with some of the finest buildings ever created. We walk into the Campus Martius district, developed by the emperors to showcase their power and benefactions. Walking past Bernini’s charming elephant, we come to the superlative Pantheon, the round temple of Hadrian to which no words can do justice. It’s simply the most beautiful internal space of any work of human art. When we can tear ourselves away, we journey to the warm and delightful Piazza Navona. The shape of the piazza reveals its origins as a Roman race-track, but now it is home to some of the most beautiful fountains and sculptures of early modern Rome and a place with tremendous atmosphere. Having given a taste of the later story of Rome, we return for a while to its imperial origins at the Ara Pacis of Augustus, an exquisitely decorated altar building in a fine modern museum. You’ll already have enough breathtaking images in your head for a lifetime, and cameras that may need to be bathed in ice.
Day 4: Today you’ll find that Rome has not exhausted its capacity to enthral you. We delve into the post-Imperial story of the city, the Rome of the popes, and how they curated their ancient heritage. We make the short trip to the Vatican to visit the vast papal collection of the Vatican Museums, every step bringing you to another world-famous masterpiece, every step bringing you closer to the peerless Sistine Chapel. We emerge next into the towering and serene masterwork of St Peter’s basilica where your gaze will be drawn ever upward, but should force itself down to see Michelangelo’s Pietà and the great twisted bronze baldacchino of Bernini, fashioned from the ancient roofing of the Pantheon. After drinking in more of Rome’s atmosphere and an excellent lunch, we spend the afternoon at the iconic Castel Sant’Angelo. Once the enormous drum-mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian, it is now wrapped in its later history as a papal castle, prison, residence and bolt-hole. From its impressive, threatening exterior through its beautifully decorated interior and the splendid views over the river from its lofty ramparts, it’s the perfect finale for this extraordinary tour. Afterwards, you’ll have some time to explore further yourself, shop, revisit or just absorb the sights.
Day 5: Farewells and transfers while you consider when to come back.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Athens International (Eleftherios Venizelos)
Departure Airport – Athens International (Eleftherios Venizelos)
Check in time at your hotel in Athens is after 14:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives in the afternoon/early evening. Check out time is 12:00pm. We will arrange local transfers from Athens Airport and to Athens airport on the first and last day of the tour.
The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.
If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.
Travel insurance is a requirement of our booking conditions and we recommend you investigate the options thoroughly to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits.
Citizens of European Union member states, the United States, Canada and Australia do not need to apply for a visa to visit Greece for trips of less than 90 days duration.