Themed visit to Rome in celebration of the Baroque
Visit to Villa Borghese, to include all of Bernini’s early masterpieces & six Caravaggio paintings
An opportunity to see Palazzo Farnese, now the French Embassy, to view Carracci’s remarkable frescoed Galleria Farnese
Private visits to a range of difficult to access churches & palaces
Visit based in a stylish, comfortable hotel located next to the Pantheon in the heart of the city
Rome truly blossomed in the seventeenth century as the city once again became the capital of an empire, this time spiritual, rather than temporal. A succession of intelligent and ambitious popes were determined to recreate the glories of former Imperial days and my, they succeeded! From the completion of St Peter’s Basilica to the erection of fine family palaces and villas, the city was transformed in a veritable orgy of grandiose building.
Once built, these fabulous structures had to be decorated and furnished in a style both opulent and triumphant. Enter a star-studded cast of Italy’s finest: Bernini, Borromini, Maderno, the Carracci family, Caravaggio, Pietro da Cortona and a legion of assistants and imitators. These are the remarkable artists who, together with their patrons, some of the greatest popes of the seventeenth century – Paul V (Borghese), Urban VIII (Barberini), Innocent X (Pamphilj) and Alexander VII (Chigi della Rovere) and their Cardinal nephews, above all Cardinal Scipione Borghese - will form the main focus of this remarkable visit, much of it under ‘connoisseur’ viewing conditions to include private access to buildings and collections not normally available.
Your physical comfort is guaranteed: our chosen hotel is the very comfortable 3* Superior Albergo del Senato, situated in the heart of the historic centre of the city directly next to the Pantheon. During the visit we shall use a series of Mercedes ‘people carriers’, thus ensuring a truly door-to-door service for our visits.
Day by day
- Day 1: Thursday 30 November
- We fly from London Heathrow at midday to Rome’s Fiumicino airport. We drive into Rome and our hotel, the Albergo del Senato. Later that evening we have dinner in a local restaurant – wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Friday 1 December
- 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’s activities with a visit to a remarkable private Chapel housed in a large seventeenth century palazzo in what is now a government building. After a group lunch we make our way to the Galleria Spada. Built in the sixteenth century, we shall admire Borromini’s famous Perspective, an ingenious architectural conceit, part of the architect’s project to upgrade the palazzo for Cardinal Spada whose Apartments we shall also visit privately.
- Our final visit of the day will be a private one to the most magnificent 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 Farnese, carried out by Annibale Carracci and his team from Bologna, regarded as THE foundation stone of Baroque ceiling painting. The palace, now the French Embassy is, given its present function, difficult to access and our visit is subject to confirmation nearer the time. The evening will be free.
- Day 3: Saturday 2 December
- This morning we visit St Peter’s Basilica, the most important church in Rome. The church and its encircling piazza, with Bernini in evidence everywhere, are testament to a remarkable sense of religious theatre, which if some find it overpowering, it cannot be ignored, so influential are the designs and decorations. After coffee we return to central Rome and visit Palazzo Barberini, one of the most complex of the great Baroque palaces in the city. An earlier palace of fifteenth century date was bought by the Barberini pope, Urban VIII, for whom it was extended, with many architects involved, not least our old friends, Bernini and Borromini. Today it is a very fine art gallery and some of the rooms have marvellous frescoes, including the sumptuous Triumph of the Barberini Family by Pietro da Cortona. After a group lunch, the remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free for private explorations.
- Day 4: Sunday 3 December
- We begin with Borromini’s masterpiece, San Ivo della Sapienza, rarely available but this morning we shall visit it. We then pop into the nearby spectacular church of Sant’ Ignazio. The piazza in which it sits, also named after St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order, is one of the most unusual in Rome and his church dominates this tight space. Built in 1627 by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi to honour the Jesuit’s founder, (just canonised by his uncle, Gregory XV) the church contains the most famous of all the illusionistic ceiling of the Baroque. It is the work of the renowned Fra Andra Pozzo. After a coffee break we continue to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. It contains a remarkable collection of paintings formed over many centuries, including several works by Caravaggio, together with Velazquez’s famous portrait of the Pamphilj pope, Innocent X. We continue to Piazza Navona to see Bernini’s famous Four Rivers Fountain and break for lunch (not included). The afternoon will see us walk to the marvellous Chiesa Nuova with more by Borromini and Pietro da Cortona’s wonderful frescoes, plus the private Library where special access has been granted! We end our day at San Luigi dei Francesi in order to enjoy Caravaggio’s remarkable cycle of paintings devoted to St Matthew. Later in the evening we have dinner in a local restaurant.
- Day 5: Monday 4 December
- On our last morning, we visit by private arrangement the small national church dedicated to the Kingdom of Belgium, San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi. Designed in the manner of Bernini’s Sant’ Andrea, it contains a fresco by one William Kent! After coffee we visit the 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 Proserpine. It has marvellous paintings by Raphael, Titian and no less than SIX major paintings by Caravaggio. After lunch, not included, we continue to the airport for the return flight to Heathrow.
- Price: £1,595 per person
- Price without flights: £1,440
- Deposit: £250
- Single Supplement: £225 (Double Room for Sole Use)
£169 (Single Room)
4 Nights with Breakfast at the 3* Hotel Albergo del Senato
£149 Pantheon View per room (sharing), subject to availability
Outward: BA560 Depart London Heathrow 1250 arrive Rome Fiumicino 1625
Return: BA559 Depart Rome Fiumicino 1715 arrive London Heathrow 1855
2 Dinners & 2 Lunches with wine, water & coffee, private visits to a range of sites including Villa Borghese, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, City tax, services of Tom Duncan & our local tour manager, James Hill
Travel to/from Heathrow, 2 Dinners & 2 Lunches
Weather Conditions for Rome in December are:
Average Temperature between: 6oC - 13oC / 43oF - 55oF
Rainfall: 93mm / 3.6 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.