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
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 - possibly the most exciting chapter 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.
Day by day
- Day 1: Tuesday 1 November
- 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 2 November
- 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 3 November
- We spend today at the Lateran and the Vatican City, both extraterritorial entities ‘outside’ yet within Rome. Pope Francis has for the first time opened the former Apostolic Palace of the Lateran to private visits. We shall take this marvellous opportunity to visit parts of the Lateran Palace redeveloped by Pope Sixtus V in 1585. Our guided visit to The House of the Bishop of Rome includes an ensemble of grand frescoed spaces still used by the Vicariate of Rome. Domenico Fontana upgraded the site into a grand Renaissance palace whilst also adapting the adjoining Basilica of St John in Lateran with further alterations by Borromini which we shall also visit. Our morning at the Lateran concludes with the archbasilica’s baptistry, one of Rome oldest. Our group lunch will be followed by some free time for private explorations. In the early evening, we regroup for 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 4 November
- 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 (in the world) will be seen by very special arrangement. We take the remainder of the morning to visit privately 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 by Raphael and his contemporaries. We end the afternoon with a private visit to the Villa Lante al Gianicolo, with perhaps the finest balcony view looking down on the city? We return to our hotel; the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Saturday 5 November
- Our day begins with 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 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 6 November
- We begin with Borromini’s masterpiece, San Ivo della Sapienza, rarely available to view but this morning we shall visit it. 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.
- Price: £2,785 per person
- Price without flights: £2,620
- Deposit: £395
- Single Supplement: £349 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
5 nights with breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Albergo del Senato
Pantheon View £245 per room (sharing), subject to availability
Outward: BA560 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1245 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1620
Return: BA559 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1725 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1910
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
Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners and 4 lunches
Weather Conditions for Rome in March are:
Average Temperature between: 7oC - 15oC / 44oF - 59oF
Rainfall: 57mm / 2.2inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.