Enjoy a remarkable recreation of ‘The Grand Tour’ in miniature
Visit superb antiquities which will bring ancient Rome to life
Discover the Roman world of Piranesi, Robert Adam, their clients & contemporaries
Experience a private visit to both Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Stanze in the Vatican when closed to the public
Stay in a comfortable 3* Superior Hotel, ideally situated overlooking the Pantheon
For two millennia Rome has dominated the culture of Europe and has fascinated generations of intelligent travellers from the British Isles, Europe and beyond. Arriving in Italy on ‘The Grand Tour’, the climax of this great adventure was a period spent in Rome; a journey of discovery we shall recreate in miniature, giving participants the perspective of a ‘Grand Tourist’ of the eighteenth century.
The first of the Roman Emperors, Augustus, was said to have found Rome a city of brick and left it one of marble. From then onwards, buildings of unprecedented splendour amply demonstrated the might of Imperial patronage. However, these visions of antiquity were not the only focus of attention.
There was also the marvellous range of churches, palaces and works of art that had been created from the fifteenth century, when a revitalised papacy sought to recapture for the Church splendours based on those of the secular Emperors of the past. Just as the Emperors dominated Imperial Rome, the Popes came to dominate their Rome.
Allied to this process was the rise of the great Papal families: della Rovere, Medici, Farnese and Chigi to name a few. We shall visit their key buildings and collections and just as they enjoyed private access, so too shall we – our week will include several marvellous private visits including the Vatican Museums at night to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes and Raphael’s Stanze, and to Rome’s finest privately owned palace, Palazzo Colonna.
All of this splendour impressed the procession of visitors from northern Europe and beyond. On their return home, laden with treasures excavated, purchased and commissioned from the best sources, they sought to recreate this ‘Arcadian’ world in their houses, landscapes and follies. It is an exciting story which we long to share with you.
We stay at the comfortable 3* Superior Albergo del Senato, centrally situated in the Piazza della Rotonda, directly overlooking the Pantheon, the finest monument of Roman antiquity. This respected hotel will be the perfect base for our visit and is surrounded by a remarkable range of restaurants and other amenities.
Day by day
- Day 1: Saturday 23 February
- We fly from London Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino airport arriving late afternoon. We drive into Rome and check into the 3* Superior Albergo del Senato. There will be a group dinner later in the evening in a local restaurant. Wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Sunday 24 February
- We spend much of today in and around the ancient Imperial and Roman Fora, and on the Palatine Hill, enlivened by readings from ancient sources such as Tacitus and Suetonius. Here, all the great events which shaped the history of Rome took place and here too, the Roman Emperors held court: their temples, basilicas and triumphal arches are everywhere. After lunch, not included, we visit Nero’s Domus Aurea, the amazing ‘Golden House’ so influential on later decorative design. The evening will be free.
- Day 3: Monday 25 February
- Today begins with a walk on the Quirinal Hill, dominated by the old Papal Palace, now the official residence of the President of Italy. Nearby, we shall visit two marvellous churches by Bernini and Borromini, Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale and San Carlo alla Quattro Fontane, the most important of the founding geniuses of the Baroque. In nearby Santa Maria della Vittoria we also see Bernini’s masterpiece in sculpture, The Ecstasy of St Theresa. We end our morning at the nearby Trevi Fountain, Rome’s most spectacular water feature. After lunch, not included, we continue 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 Velazquez to name a few. We return to the hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Tuesday 26 February
- This morning we visit the most influential classical building to come down to us from antiquity, our neighbour throughout our stay, The Pantheon. We proceed to Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome’s finest museum of classical antiquities with spectacular frescoes, mosaics and sculptures. Following a pause for coffee we continue to Villa Farnesina - the renaissance villa built for Sienese banker and Papal Treasurer Agostino Chigi, and frescoed by Raphael and his workshop. We end our morning’s activities at one of the great focal points of Rome, the historic Quartiere degli Inglesi, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. Lunch is not included today and the afternoon and evening will be free for private explorations.
- Day 5: Wednesday 27 February
- We drive to Piazza del Popolo, the impressive entry point into the city for most eighteenth century Grand Tourists, to visit one of Rome’s great, yet smaller basilicas, Santa Maria del Popolo, with works by Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini. After coffee we visit the Galleria Borghese, the most important collection of works of art in the city, with masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, no less than six Caravaggio and above all, the most famous group of Bernini’s sculptures in existence. We continue to Piazza Navona, dominated by Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain for a group lunch. Our afternoon will include visits to San Luigi dei Franchesi to see Caravaggio’s St Matthew cycle and San Agostino, with a Caravaggio altarpiece. The evening will be free.
- Day 6: Thursday 28 February
- A short walk will take us to one of the most influential churches of the renaissance, Il Gesu, its original austerity enhanced by later, lavish, redecoration. We continue to the Capitoline Museums, Rome’s other great collection of antiquities, distributed between three magnificent buildings united by Michelangelo on the Capitol Hill. The remainder of the afternoon after lunch, not included, will be free. We meet in the late afternoon for our private visit to the Vatican Museums when closed to the public. This allows us to contemplate the remarkable sculptures in the Belvedere Courtyard which so obsessed earlier travellers, Raphael’s Stanze and the Sistine Chapel, dominated by Michelangelo’s extraordinary frescoes. After our visit there will be a group dinner.
- Day 7: Friday 1 March
- On our last morning we visit the church of San Ignazio which is a few steps from our hotel. Here we shall find one of the most spectacular ceilings of any church in Rome, the work of Fra Andrea Pozzo, a triumph of illusionism. We end our week with the great privilege of a private visit to Palazzo Colonna, Rome’s most amazing private palace where we shall be shown not only the famous Galleria Colonna but also some of the remarkable private apartments. After free time for lunch, not included, we depart for the airport for our BA flight to London Heathrow, arriving later that evening.
- Price: £2,685 per person
- Price without flights: £2,525
- Deposit: £300
- Single Supplement: £375 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
6 nights with breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Albergo del Senato
Pantheon View £235 per room, subject to availability
Outward: BA560 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1245 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1620
Return: BA557 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1845 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 2020
2 dinners & 1 lunch with wine, water & coffee, private visits to the Vatican Museums & Palazzo Colonna, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, City tax, services of Tom Duncan & our local tour manager, James Hill
Travel to/from Heathrow, 4 dinners & 5 lunches
Weather Conditions for Rome in March are:
Average Temperature between: 6oC - 16oC / 42oF - 60oF
Rainfall: 19mm / 0.7 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.