Exceptional level of private access to spectacular churches, palaces & collections
Rare opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel, privately, at night & with no others present
Explore the unprecedented riches of Villa Borghese with its six Caravaggios & the finest collection of Bernini’s sculptures
Our group will be received as guests in several magnificent private palaces
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 private 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 will be encountered: Raphael, Michelangelo, Bramante, the Carracci family, Caravaggio and Bernini. It is 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: Sunday 4 March
- 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: Monday 5 March
- Leaving our hotel after breakfast we walk a short distance to visit a church normally not accessible to the public, San Giuliano al Fiamminghi. This is the Flemish Church in Rome, under the protection of the King of the Belgians. It contains William Kent’s only known works in Rome, a series of frescoes which he carried out before he returned to England. Nearby, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj contains a remarkable collection of paintings formed over many centuries, including several works by Caravaggio and Velazquez’s famous Portrait of Pope Innocent X. We have a group lunch after which there will be some free time to explore at leisure. We later 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 3: Tuesday 6 March
- This morning we drive up to the Aventine Hill for a private visit to the Villa of the Knights of Malta, where we shall see the gardens and the remarkable Church designed by Piranesi. After coffee we drive on to the Janiculum Hill to visit San Pietro in Montorio where Bramante designed for the cloister the first building of the Roman High Renaissance, the remarkable Tempietto. We end the morning with a private visit to the Villa Lante al Gianicolo, with perhaps the finest balcony view looking down on the city? You will be free to enjoy lunch in the Piazza Navona area, not included, after which we will pop into San Luigi dei Francesi to see the famous Contarelli Chapel with the cycle of paintings by Caravaggio devoted to the life of St Matthew. We end today’s visits as the guests of a noble family when we visit nearby another 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. The evening will be free.
- Day 4: Wednesday 7 March
- This morning we visit 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 our visit, there will be some free time for lunch, not included. We continue to a private palace, now in government use by the Council of State where there is an exquisite Oratory Chapel, decorated in Baroque style. We conclude the day with a late afternoon private visit to the most magnificent Renaissance palace in Rome, Palazzo Farnese. This was begun by Pope Paul III and involved several architects, including Michelangelo. Its glory is the most important and splendid frescoed secular reception room in Italy, the famous Galleria, carried out by Annibale Carracci and his team from Bologna. The palace is now the French Embassy and is normally difficult to visit. We return to our hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Thursday 8 March
- The sixteenth century Villa Medici enjoys a spectacular position, looking out from its hilltop towards the Vatican. Now the French Academy in Rome, both the villa and the many delightful follies within its walled gardens are of great interest. Nearby, we shall also visit Villa Ludovisi-Boncompagni, where the current Princess of the family will host our private visit. The villa contains celebrated frescoes, notably Guercino’s Aurora and the only ceiling fresco ever painted by Caravaggio. We continue to the Spanish Steps area where you will have time for lunch, not included. There will be no formal visit this afternoon and this evening we cross the Tiber to visit privately the exquisite villa known as the Farnesina. Built for Agostino Chigi, a rich papal banker, it contains some of the finest frescoes of the High Renaissance by Raphael and his contemporaries. We continue to our final group dinner in one of Trastevere’s most characterful restaurants.
- Day 6: Friday 9 March
- We devote our final morning in Rome to a private visit to Palazzo Colonna, the most magnificent of all Roman palaces, where we shall visit both the State and the rarely seen private apartments. These culminate in one of the grandest of all grand Galleries from eighteenth century Italy. After some free time for lunch, not included, we continue to the airport for the return flight to Heathrow.
Other private visits will be included – some owners have requested anonymity at this stage.
- Price: £2,290 per person
- Deposit: £300
- Single Supplement: £325 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
5 nights with breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Albergo del Senato
Pantheon View £195 per room (sharing), subject to availability
Outward: BA560 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1250 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1625
Return: BA557 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1845 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 2025
Return flights with BA from London Heathrow, 2 Dinners & 1 Lunch with water, coffee & wine. All entrances, including private visits to, amongst others, Palazzo Farnese and the Sistine Chapel, 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.