connoisseurs' rome

behind closed doors

Italy
Tuesday 28 February - Sunday 5 March 2023 (6 Days)

Price

£2,895
FULL

Exceptional level of private access to spectacular palaces, villas & collections

Rare opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel, privately, at night & with no others present

Our group will be received as guests in several magnificent private palaces & villas

Explore the unprecedented riches of Villa Borghese with its six Caravaggio paintings & the finest collection of Bernini’s sculptures

Visit based in the very comfortable 3* Superior Albergo del Senato located just by the Pantheon

Tour Overview

If all roads lead to Rome, not all organised visits open the doors of Rome’s many private palaces and villas! This visit is an exception as it is almost entirely devoted to a series of specially arranged private visits. We shall enjoy extraordinary levels of access to some of the most important palaces, villas and collections in Rome.

How is this possible? Over the years CICERONI Travel has built up an unrivalled series of introductions and contacts in Roman society, both sacred and secular. This allows us to organise what we believe to be the finest tour of its kind available.  It is an opportunity which you are cordially invited to participate in as our guests. The overriding theme of the visit will be to allow you to enjoy a level of access to remarkable buildings and their collections, whilst recreating the perspective of an earlier, more privileged world.

These visits will chart the transformation of Rome during the Renaissance and Baroque periods as a succession of remarkable Popes, Cardinals and Princes vied to outdo each other. All the great names of Renaissance and Baroque Rome will be encountered: Raphael, Michelangelo, Bramante, the Carracci family, Caravaggio, Bernini and Borromini – one of the most exciting chapters in the history of western art.

Your physical comfort is guaranteed: our chosen hotel is the very comfortable 3* Superior Albergo del Senato, just by the Pantheon and situated in the heart of the historic centre of the city. Throughout the visit we shall use a series of Mercedes ‘people carriers’ thus ensuring a truly door-to-door service for all visits.

Rome was an exceptional and privileged visit with two guides of the very highest calibre and knowledge. Our daily visits were of the greatest interest and the brilliance of Renaissance and Baroque Rome could not have been better demonstrated and brought to life. Much of what we saw was spell-binding.
Mr N G, Worcestershire

Day by day

Day 1: Tuesday 28 February
We fly from Heathrow to Rome’s Fiumicino airport and continue into Rome to our hotel, the 3* Superior Albergo del Senato. Later that evening we have our first dinner in a local restaurant – wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
Day 2: Wednesday 1 March
We begin our first day as the guests of a noble family visiting their private sixteenth century Palazzo, built by Giacamo della Porta and Carlo Maderno and which contains excellent interiors together with an important collection of remarkable Florentine paintings. The owner, whose family have lived here since the seventeenth century, will be our guide. We continue to nearby San Luigi dei Francesi to see the famous Contarelli Chapel with the cycle of paintings by Caravaggio devoted to the life of St Matthew. After lunch (not included), we walk the short distance to Palazzo Doria Pamphili, where we shall find the finest art collection in private hands in Italy with works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Bernini and Velázquez to name a few. On our return to the hotel, the evening will be free.
Day 3: Thursday 2 March
We spend today on the Lateran Hill and in the Vatican City, both extraterritorial entities legally ‘outside’ of Italy, yet within Rome, as both are part of The Vatican City State. Pope Francis has for the first time opened the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran to private visits. We shall visit parts of the Lateran Palace redeveloped by Pope Sixtus V in 1585, in what is technically the ‘seat’ of the Bishop of Rome and will include an ensemble of grand frescoed spaces still in use. Domenico Fontana upgraded the site into a grand Renaissance palace whilst also adapting the adjoining Basilica of St John in Lateran, which we shall also visit, with further alterations designed by Borromini. Our morning at the Lateran concludes with the adjacent Baptistry, one of Rome’s oldest early Christian structures. Our group lunch will be followed by some free time for private explorations. In the early evening, we have our private evening visit to The Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel and other highlights of the papal collections including Raphael’s Stanze. The remainder of the evening will be free. 
Day 4: Friday 3 March
We begin our day with a private visit to one of the major Baroque Palaces in the city. Here, Caravaggio’s most important picture in private hands will be seen by very special arrangement. We spend the remainder of the morning, also privately, at Palazzo Colonna, the most magnificent of all Roman palaces, where we shall visit both the State and the rarely seen private apartments. Its frescoed spaces display a bewildering array of pictures, decorative arts and furniture of breath-taking quality. These culminate in the grandest of all grand ‘Galleries; from eighteenth century Italy. We cross the Tiber into Trastevere for lunch (not included) after which we visit privately the exquisite Villa Farnesina. Built for Agostino Chigi, the rich papal banker and treasurer, it contains some of the finest frescoes of the High Renaissance, the work of Raphael and his contemporaries. We end the day with a private visit to the Villa Lante al Gianicolo, with perhaps the finest balcony view looking down onto the city below? We return to our hotel and the evening will be free.
Day 5: Saturday 4 March
This morning includes a walk on the Quirinal Hill, dominated by the old Papal Palace, now the official residence of the President of Italy. Nearby, there are two marvellous churches, one each by Bernini and Borromini, the two most important of the founding geniuses of the Baroque, both of which we shall visit, Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale and San Carlo alla Quattro Fontane. In nearby Santa Maria della Vittoria we shall also see Bernini’s renowned masterpiece in sculpture, The Ecstasy of St Theresa. We end our morning with a visit to nearby Palazzo Barberini, one of the most complex of the great Baroque palaces in the city. An earlier fifteenth century palazzo was bought by the Barberini pope, Urban VIII, for whom it was extended, with many architects involved, not least Bernini and Borromini. Today it is a fine art gallery whose highlight is surely the sumptuous ceiling fresco The Triumph of the Barberini Family by Pietro da Cortona. Lunch (not included) and the remainder of the afternoon will be free for private explorations. We meet in the evening for our final group dinner.
Day 6: Sunday 5 March
We end our week at Villa Borghese which contains Rome’s finest art collection, including all of Bernini’s early sculptural masterpieces such as his David, Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Proserpina. It has marvellous paintings by Raphael, Titian and no less than six major paintings by Caravaggio. After some free time for lunch, not included, we continue to the airport for our return flight to Heathrow.
A wonderful combination of a programme full of visits to the best of Renaissance and Baroque Rome, with knowledgeable and expert academic guides, with a hotel in an ideal location by the Pantheon and meals at traditional restaurants.
Mrs C CM, Worcestershire

Practicalities

  • Price: £2,895 per person
  • Price without flights: £2,720
  • Deposit: £395
  • Single Supplement: £349 (Double Room for Sole Use)
  • Tour Manager: James Hill

Hotel Details

5 nights with breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Albergo del Senato

Room Upgrade

Pantheon View £245 per room (sharing), subject to availability

Flights

British Airways

Outward:   BA560 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1245 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1620

Return:     BA559 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1725 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1910

Price includes

2 dinners & 1 lunch with water, coffee & wine, all entrances, including private visits, all local transfers, entry fees, gratuities & City tax, the services of Tom Duncan & Tour Manager James Hill

Not included

Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners and 4 lunches

Weather

Current Conditions

Weather Conditions for Rome in March are:
Average Temperature between: 7oC - 15oC / 44oF - 59oF
Rainfall: 57mm / 2.2inches

Currency

Euro

Fitness levels

We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.

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