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: Saturday 2 October
- We fly from Stansted 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: Sunday 3 October
- We begin with Borromini’s masterpiece, San Ivo della Sapienza, rarely available to view but this morning we shall visit it. After a coffee break, we continue to our first private visit 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. After lunch (not included) We shall travel by minibuses to 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. We return to our hotel after which the evening will be free.
- Day 3: Monday 4 October
- We begin this morning visiting an important private villa situated in the Ludovisi district of Rome where a member of the family will host our private visit. Villa Ludovisi-Boncompagni is a small villa containing celebrated frescoes, notably Guercino’s Aurora and, a true rarity, the only ceiling fresco ever painted by Caravaggio. We continue to Piazza del Popolo - one of the great set pieces of Papal town planning. After a coffee break, we visit Santa Maria del Popolo. The church contains marvellous works by Raphael, Annibale Carracci, Caravaggio and Bernini. We travel to Rome’s south bank and descend into Trastevere for a group lunch 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. The evening will be free.
- Day 4: Tuesday 5 October
- We begin with a private visit to the Villa Lante al Gianicolo, with perhaps the finest balcony view looking down on the city? We conclude our morning with Palazzo Doria Pamphili, where we shall find the finest art collection in private hands in Italy with works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Bernini and Velazquez to name a few. Lunch (not included) and some of the afternoon will be free for private explorations. Later in the afternoon, we regroup and drive to the Janiculum Hill to visit San Pietro in Montorio where in the cloister Bramante designed the first building of the Roman High Renaissance, the remarkable Tempietto. We continue to the Vatican City and our private evening visit to The Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel and other highlights of the papal collections including Raphael’s Stanze. After our visit we return to the hotel where the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Wednesday 6 October
- 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 continue to the Campidoglio – Rome’s ‘Capitol Hill’ and the centre of the political life of the city in times both ancient and modern. We visit Villa Caffarelli to admire some of the Torlonia Marbles – a temporary exhibition currently on display of one of the world’s greatest private collections of Roman antiquities which have been loaned by the Torlonia family for the first time in decades. An opportunity not to be missed! The display is annexed to the Capitoline Museums whose highlights will include some of Rome’s iconic antiquities and a view into the Roman Forum from the Tabularium. After lunch (not included) we travel to Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, custodian amongst other magnificent antiquities, of the greatest Roman wall painting of its kind in the Roman world – the ingeniously displayed Winter Dining Room from the House of Livia at Prima Porta. Our day ends 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. Later in the evening we have our final group dinner.
- Day 6: Thursday 7 October
- On our final morning, we walk the short distance to visit a church normally not accessible to the public, San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi. This is the Flemish Church in Rome, under the protection of the King of the Belgians. It contains William Kent’s only known fresco in Rome, which he carried out before he returned to England. After a coffee break, we end our week 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 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 our return flight to Stansted.
- Price: £2,830 per person
- Price without flights: £2,655
- 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)
Outward: FR3004 Depart London Stansted 1400 arrive Rome Ciampino 1720
Return: FR3003 Depart Rome Ciampino 1705 arrive London Stansted 1840
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 Stansted, 3 dinners and 4 lunches
Weather Conditions for Rome in October are:
Average Temperature between: 12oC - 22oC / 54oF - 72oF
Rainfall: 91mm / 3.6inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.