Exceptional level of private access to spectacular palaces, villas, diplomatic residences & collections
Rare opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel, privately, at night & with no others present
Our group will be received in several magnificent private palaces & villas
Explore the unprecedented riches of Villa Borghese with works by Caravaggio & Bernini
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 6 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 7 February
- We begin our first day at Piazza del Popolo, one of the great set pieces of Papal town planning, to visit Santa Maria del Popolo. The basilica contains marvellous works by Raphael (the Chigi tomb), Caravaggio and others. We continue to the Villa Borghese which contains Rome’s finest art collection, including all of Bernini’s early sculptural masterpieces such as David, Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Proserpina. It has marvellous paintings by Raphael, Titian and no less than six major paintings by Caravaggio. We travel to the ‘left bank’ of Rome to Trastevere and a group lunch, after which we visit privately the exquisite Villa Farnesina. Built for Agostino Chigi (whose funerary chapel we will have seen earlier in the morning), the rich papal banker and treasurer, it contains some of the finest frescoes of the High Renaissance including works by Raphael and contemporaries. We return to the hotel and have a free evening.
- Day 3: Thursday 8 February
- This morning we shall be the guests of a noble family visiting their private sixteenth century Palazzo, built by Giacamo Della Porta and containing excellent interiors together with an important collection of Florentine paintings. We continue to a Palace adjoining the Theatre of Marcellus to visit by special arrangement the diplomatic rooms of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta’s Embassy to the Holy See. After lunch (not included) we continue to Palazzo Farnese, begun by Pope Paul III and involving several architects, including Michelangelo. Its glory is the most important secular reception room in Italy, the famous Galleria, carried out by Annibale Carracci. Now the French Embassy, our visit is subject to confirmation closer to our arrival date. We return to our hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Friday 9 February
- We spend today on the Lateran Hill, and later the Vatican City, both extraterritorial entities legally ‘outside’ of Italy, yet within Rome. We visit the Lateran Palace privately in what is the ‘seat’ of the Bishop of Rome. Domenico Fontana upgraded the site for Pope Sixtus V from 1585 into a grand Renaissance palace, joining it to the Basilica of St John in Lateran, which we shall also visit, with further alterations designed by Borromini. We also visit the medieval Papal chapel, the Sancta Sanctorum and Rome’s earliest Baptistry. Our group lunch is 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 5: Saturday 10 February
- This morning includes a walk on the Quirinal Hill, dominated by the Italy’s presidential palace. Nearby, we shall visit two marvellous churches by Bernini and Borromini, Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale and San Carlo alla Quattro Fontane. In nearby Santa Maria della Vittoria we shall also see Bernini’s renowned masterpiece, The Ecstasy of St Theresa. We shall visit privately one of the major Baroque Palaces in the city. Here, Caravaggio’s most important picture in private hands will be seen by special arrangement. After lunch (not included), our private visit is 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 vast array of pictures, decorative arts and furniture of astonishing quality. These culminate in the grandest of all grand galleries from eighteenth century Italy. The evening will be free.
- Day 6: Sunday 11 February
- Our morning begins with Borromini’s baroque masterpiece, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, rarely open except Sunday mornings, after which we focus on Ancient Rome. We visit Palazzo Massimo alle Terme - home to, amongst its magnificent finds, the greatest wall painting of its kind in the Roman world – the Winter Dining Room from the House of Livia. Our final visit is to the Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea, or Golden House, initially investigated during the Renaissance its restoration continues apace. Lunch (not included) and the afternoon will be free. We meet in the evening for our final group dinner.
- Day 7: Monday 12 February
- We begin with San Luigi dei Francesi to see the famous Contarelli Chapel with the cycle of paintings by Caravaggio devoted to the life of St Matthew and continue with Borromini’s baroque masterpiece, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, rarely open except Sunday mornings. Our final visit of the week is a short distance away at 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. After some free time for lunch, not included, we continue to the airport for our return flight to Heathrow.
- Price: £3,360 per person
- Price without flights: £3,195
- Deposit: £425
- Single Supplement: £325 (Single Room)
£435 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
6 nights with breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Albergo del Senato
Pantheon View £250 per room (sharing), or Single Supplement £830 for DSU Pantheon View; subject to availability
Outward: BA560 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1245 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1620
Return: BA559 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1715 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1900
2 dinners & 2 lunches 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, 4 dinners and 4 lunches
Weather Conditions for Rome in February are:
Average Temperature between: 4oC - 12oC / 39oF - 54oF
Rainfall: 77mm / 3 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.