FIRST TIME IN ROME?
If it's your first time experiencing the rich historical tradition of Rome, we have tours covering the must-see attractions. Learn more about everything from the Roman Forum to St. Peter's Basilica, from St. John Lateran to the Colosseum!
VATICAN MUSEUMS & ST. PETER'S BASILICA
After 15 years studying the Vatican collection as well as lecturing and writing about its galleries innumerable times, it is safe to say this is Liz's favorite museum. This tour can be customized to your interests, knowledge of art, and prior experience with the museums. For first time visitors, Liz focuses on the Sistine Chapel, utilizing other pieces within the museum to reveal the wonders of the world's most artistic space, its creators, and its genesis (pun intended). This tour also can include a visit to St. Peter's Basilica, parish church of the whole world, exploring the dense spiritual, historic, and artistic space.
For those who have already visited the museums, the tour looks to visit less explored sections of the museums from the Carriage collection, to the painting gallery, to early Christian sculpture, always with an eye to recounting the great narrative of the world’s greatest art collection. The tour can also shift focus to St Peter’s, exploring not only the dense spiritual and artistic space, but also the less visited areas, such as the Treasury Museum.
The Dawn and Decline of an Empire
This tour covers the major monuments of the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Hill to the Coliseum. Through the topography of the city, the monumental ruins and the historical texts, we can trace the history of the little village founded by Romulus that grew into an Empire. This tour also takes a very intense look at how the titanic Roman machine, thought too big to fail, toppled and collapsed, only to be resuscitated by Christianity.
This tour can be customized and enhanced with visits to the Palatine Hill, San Clemente, the underground area of the Coliseum or the Capitoline Museums. For a full day, one could add Ostia Antica in the afternoon, or Museo Nazionale Romano or the Baths of Caracalla.
From Martyrs to Masters
This tour studies the earliest age of Christianity in Rome, focusing on the turbulent period of transition when Christianity went from a persecuted minority to the sole religion of the Empire. Looking at art and architecture produced by the Christian community, we get a sense of the evangelical use of art from the earliest examples, as well as the uniqueness of this belief as expressed through their imagery and monuments.
This tour can be tailored to cover more or less ground. One might choose to start at St. John Lateran, the world’s first legally built Christian church, before moving on to St. Mary Major, oldest Marian church in the West. We can also start with San Clemente and its three levels of Roman history, before moving onto SS Giovanni and Paolo where a home was transformed into a place of worship and then conclude with St. John Lateran. We can also visit the complex of St. Paul outside the Walls, and the Church of the Holy Cross where the relics of Christ’s Passion are housed. The list of the early Christian churches is very long, with unsung treasures such as Santo Stefano Rotundo, or Cosmas and Damian or Santa Pudenziana. After the years of research for a book on the Station Churches of Rome, co-authored with George Weigel, I am always delighted to visit the lesser-known treasures alongside the most famous monuments and the Christian roots of Rome.
ROME'S HISTORICAL CENTER
A World of Art
Much like Rome’s cuisine, the historical center has many ingredients. Starting with a base of Ancient architecture like the Pantheon or Republican temples in Largo Argentina, flavored with a medieval mosaic or two in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, we add the sturdy meat of the Renaissance palaces of the Farnese and Spadas and frescoes all lightened with a dollop of Baroque volutes and cupolas in Piazza Navona. This tour can focus on any of these periods, even stretching across the Tiber to enjoy the 13th century frescos hidden away above the medieval church of Santa Cecilia or Raphael’s “day off” in the Villa Farnesina. Some of Rome’s loveliest art collections are tucked behind the grand facades of the Pamphili, Colonna and Spada palaces, and the numerous churches, each of which have a character and personality of its own. Sts. Ignatius and Catherine of Siena left their indelible mark here as did Caravaggio and Galileo. This tour presents the surprising faces of Rome beyond the monumental centers of the Forum and the Vatican and is meant for the gourmands of art.