Guided visits to Italy's sights—museums, cathedrals, castles, palaces, ruins—can help make them come alive, deepen your understanding, and enrich your experience
Whether led by learned volunteers, hired guides, a dusty professor, or a rotund old monk, a 30- to 120-minute tour of an individual sight can do the same thing for a cathedral or art gallery that walking tours do for a city.
Guides can spin stories and give insightful commentaries on the meanings of every tiny detail of a sight or painting, conjuring up the past and enriching the experience of your visit tenfold.
I'm not just trying to sell you a line here. I love sight tours. On tours, I've walked in Dante's footsteps though Florence, learned about Leonardo's and Ruben's painting techniques ast a small museum in Milan, and discovered that Venice ruled its Republic literally from behind the walls of the Doge's palace for 900 years.
Do I need to book guided tours ahead of time?
You can often hop on the next guided tour at any museum, and some major sights, just by showing up, but there are two caveats here.
- Tours may be offered only at certain times and/or on certain days, so it pays to poke around the museum's or other sight's website (or call a few days ahead) to find this out.
- Reservations are essential for a few top-notch tours, which can book up way in advance (as can entry to some sights that don't even come with a tour, just an admission ticket).
You can choose to book tours of some of the more popular sights ahead of time via one of our partners:
Sistine Chapel Tickets The Vatican is Italy's most popular attraction with almost five million visitors annually. Book your tickets in advance to avoid long lines and guarantee your entrance. Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums ticket: This ticket allows you to skip the long lines and independently visit the Vatican Museums and the magnificent Sistine Chapel. Night at the Vatican Museums: This ticket gives you an extraordinary opportunity to independently visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums after sunset. These are entrance tickets ONLY, but if you would like a guided tour, select our private tour OR our shared group tour.
Performances are held at the Correale Museum of Terranova in the city center of Sorrento. You will enjoy a selection of some of the most beautiful and popular opera arias and Neapolitan songs in the majestic atmosphere of the Room of Mirrors, where the shimmering gold leaf decoration lit by the last rays of the day create the perfect stage for this journey of the senses.
Every Tuesday and Saturday, you will be treated to an hour and a half of arias from Tosca, La Traviata, and L'Elisir d'Amore, woven together with classic songs from the Neapolitan tradition, like "O'Sole Mio", "Torna a Surriento", and "Malafemenna", performed by a Soprano and Tenor from the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome and the Teatro Verdi in Salerno, with accompaniment of strings and piano.
Together, the Vatican and Colosseum form two high points of Italian culture: the former, a dazzling ode to Renaissance opulence, and possibly the world’s greatest collection of the era’s art; the latter, a monolithic tribute to the engineering acumen and cultural excess that characterized the height of the Roman Empire. While they sit across town from one another, combined they form the two necessary destinations for anyone who seeks to understand the magnificence of Rome. On our full-day Vatican and Colosseum Tour, we take an in-depth look at each of these sites. Beginning our day at the Colosseum, we’ll survey this most emblematic icon of the Roman Empire before hopping on the Metro, grabbing a quick lunch, and marveling at the Vatican’s stunning collection of art ranging from famous frescoes to ancient artifacts. This is a great tour for anyone spending a brief period in Rome who wishes to take in its most important sites in a day. Full-Day Vatican and Colosseum Tour Meeting outside the Colosseum and armed with skip-the-line reserved entry tickets, we’ll make our way into the Colosseum, where we’ll receive a primer on the history of the structure—including its decay through the Middle Ages and eventual restoration—as well as the astonishing strides in architectural engineering the Roman Empire made in order to realize one of its greatest feats. Proceeding into the arena area, we’ll learn about the varying spectacles that took place inside, from naval battles to the exploits of gladiators. Our docent, using an array of supplemental materials and evocative imagery, will help the long-dormant structure come alive, placing us mentally within the heights of the Roman Empire. Onto the Vatican From here, we’ll hop on the metro to the Vatican, near which we’ll grab a quick bite to eat before proceeding onward into the Museums. Once again, we’ll take advantage of skip-the-line tickets to jumpstart our visit, getting a primer on papal history and the construction of the premises. After brushing up on the necessary background to understand what lays ahead of us, we’ll dive in, receiving a highly curated, compelling look at the sprawling collections, getting an art historian’s take on everything from the ancient statuary collection of Pope Julius II to his private apartments decorated by Raphael. All of this, of course, will serve as lead-up to the grand finale, the Sistine Chapel. While we aren’t allowed to talk once we’re inside, our docent will have primed us to fully appreciate the masterpiece, pointing out details often lost on visitors and giving us a thorough introduction to Michelangelo’s creative process so we may marvel completely at the pinnacle of Renaissance art. Afterwards, we’ll spend the remainder of our time in St. Peter’s Basilica, where we’ll learn more about Michelangelo’s prowess as an architect, admire Bernini’s Baldacchino, and place the structure within the social and historical context we’ll developed over the course of the tour. Take Aways Concluding our tour in the late-afternoon, we will be able to reflect upon some of the most revered accomplishments of Rome—from Renaissance art that continues to astound and inspire today, to the incredible advancements made by the ancient Romans. We’ll part with the docent feeling awed, filled with knowledge...and perhaps ready for aperitivo.
One really needs weeks to discover Rome. However, time is not always on our side when exploring. We’ve carefully crafted an itinerary that allows for a deeper snapshot into this magnificent Italian city, in one day only, with a highlight on the Vatican. We will visit the Vatican in the morning followed by the Centro Storico (historic center) in the afternoon, to take in sites such as the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, among others. This itinerary suits those with a desire to delve into the spectacular collection at the Vatican Museums followed by a a superb introduction to Rome’s historical center. It’s for any curious traveler looking to dig a bit deeper into Rome’s past, steered along the way by a knowledgeable expert. Rome In A Day with Vatican Tour Full-day private tour of Rome Expert local guide or scholar Visit the Vatican with skip-the-line tickets See the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps (For those wishing to see the Colosseum instead, please take a look at our 'Rome in a Day, the Colosseum' tour.) The Vatican and Beyond For the art and art history lover inspired by the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica Includes skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican, as well as access to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Also includes a historic city center tour of sites such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon. Local lunch (at own expense). Our tour begins near the Vatican Museums with an introduction to what we will view inside. We’ll bypass the lines of tourists as we head into its galleries with a trained expert in art history. We will spend around 3 hours together exploring the most crucial sections of the Vatican Museums, as well as St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, including Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling and Pietà. Touring in a small private group, led by an expert, will give us a solid overview of the entire monument and allow us to both approach and appreciate this outstanding venue in a deeper sense. From the Vatican to Rome's Historical Core We’ll leave the Vatican behind and stop for lunch at a local restaurant or cafe and use this time to re-energize and discuss anything from what we saw to what-to-do in Rome. After lunch, we will move to the historic center of the city, or the ‘Centro Storico’. We’ll explore classical Roman streets and squares before moving to one of our favorite spots in Rome: the Pantheon. We will spend some time soaking up the beauty of this world-class site with our local expert. From here we will head in the direction of the legendary Trevi Fountain, where we’ll discuss the importance of water to the city, the competition behind its design, and the dramatic tale its sculptures portray. The afternoon will serve as a wonderful introduction to Rome’s scenic streets, architectural prowess, and lively hum. As we wrap up our time together in the historic center, we will emerge with a greater understanding and perspective of the city and its incredible collection of buildings, structures, and renowned venues. Takeaways At the end of this 'In a Day' itinerary, we will emerge with a much deeper knowledge of how Rome has evolved over the centuries. We’ll have ventured across the city to the Vatican and other archaeological sites relevant to the historic, cultural, and artistic identity of the Romans. Hopefully, our ‘Rome in a Day’ tour will set us up for the remainder of our travel in Italy and beyond.
After serving for many centuries as a prison and police station, the fortress-like Bargello was transformed into the National Museum of Sculpture in 1886 - on Donatello's five-hundredth birthday. The Bargello's courtyard, loggia and frescoed rooms are filled with marble and bronze masterpieces by Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini, Bernini and others. Particularly important to the history of Florence are two bronze panels of the Sacrifice of Isaac by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi for the competition to decorate the doors of the Baptistry. Had Brunelleschi won this contest, he might not have gone on to design the great dome of the Duomo of Florence.
Due to a new Vatican partnership, this tour provides VIP access through a reserved door, allowing you to skip all the lines even the priority lines. Numbers are also limited to just 12 people on this unique Vatican tour, ensuring you'll see the very best of the Vatican Museums in a small-group atmosphere.
This is a typical itinerary for this product
Stop At: Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Lazio
Meet and greet your guide opposite the entrance to the Vatican Museums, a collection of galleries filled with classical and Renaissance masterpieces, including the Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Walk inside through a reserved door without any waiting. This access is even faster than the priority lines. Once inside, there are more than 2,000 rooms and nine miles of art, so follow along with your guide who will point out the highlights and explain the story behind each piece. The small-group nature of your tour allows you to remain close to your guide at all times, but a headset is included to make sure you can always hear the commentary clearly.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Lazio
Stroll through rooms like the Gallery of Maps, with its golden, vaulted ceiling; the Raphael Rooms, painted by Renaissance artist Raphael; and the stunning Sistine Chapel, considered to be the Popes home chapel, with Michelangelos Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement. On your early-access tour, youll find the galleries to be considerably quieter than they would be later in the day.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Lazio
Finish with a visit to St. Peters Basilica, the largest church ever built and one of the holiest and most important sites in Christendom. Get an overview of its long history from your guide, and get an up-close look at the Pietà, one of Michelangelos earlier sculptures that depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.
Your tour ends inside the basilica. After youve finished exploring with your group, you can stay as long as you want on your own. Its the perfect time to head down into the crypts or climb up to the top of St. Peters dome (own expense) for uninterrupted views of Rome.
Duration: 1 hour
Before you start, our multilingual staff will welcome you at our fully equipped, air-conditioned offices.
After meeting your guide at our office head inside the incredible Vatican Museums with your skip-the-line ticket. As you walk through its corridors, your guide will regale you with tales of Vatican saintliness and sin an intriguing insight into the holiest place in the Christian world.
At a time when Italian art blazed a trail around the world, the Vatican employed only the best Renaissance and Baroque architects to furnish their surroundings. No surprise then that the popes amassed one of the worlds finest collections of sculptures, carvings, frescoes and paintings a visual feast for art connoisseurs and amateurs alike.
Walk through breathtaking galleries like Raphaels Rooms, a series of interconnecting papal chambers that showcase the artistic genius of Renaissance master Raphael and his pupils. Stop to look at mesmerizing paintings like the School of Athens, which features images of Michelangelo and Raphael himself, and hear about the rivalries that resulted in some of the most influential works of Western art ever created.
Stroll through more captivating rooms including the Gallery of the Maps and Gallery of the Tapestries, and then head inside the Sistine Chapel the popes private place of worship. Besides its sacredness, the main draw of the Sistine Chapel is the incredible frescoes, created solely by Michelangelo. Gaze skyward at The Creation of Adam ceiling fresco, and look to the back wall to see The Last Judgement.
Finish with a walk inside St Peters Basilica Italys largest and infinitely most spectacular church thats built on the site of St Peters supposed burial place. Marvel at La Pieta, one of Michelangelos early sculptures, and stop to rub the foot of St Peter himself for good luck and a blessing. Your tour then finishes outside the church.
Important: Entrance tickets to the Vatican Museums are NOT included and will be provided by the agency at an additional cost (on the spot).
8.30 am Tour:
Want to skip the line and the crowds too? Upgrade to the 8.30 am small-group tour and after skipping the long entrance lines, gain access to the museums before the general public set foot inside! See all the classic Vatican sights in a small-group of no more than 16 people, with personalized attention from your guide.
Book the 7:30pm tour and explore the Vatican Museums after the main closing times an opportunity available for a strictly limited season. Access is only possible for people pre-booking an evening tour, so book now to secure your spot! The season runs from April 20th to October 26th. Numbers are limited to 25 people. Please note that entry isn't permitted to St Peter's Basilica in the evening tour.
Visit: City Wonders, Rome, Lazio
Visit: Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Lazio
Visit: Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Lazio
Visit: Stanze di Raffaello, Vatican City, Lazio
Visit: Vatican City, Vatican City, Lazio
Venice: Multiple-venue Museum Cards Looking to see the sights and museums of Venice? Choose the museum pass that is right for you! San Marco Square Pass: This pass includes the Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, Archaeological Museums and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. This pass is ideal for the traveler who only has a day or two to spend in Venice. Museums Pass: For the traveler who has more time to explore Venice's treasures, the Venice Museums Pass is the right choice. This pass includes all of the San Marco Museums plus the Murano Glass Factory, Burano Lace Factory, Ca'Rezzonico, Palazzo Mocenigo, Carlo Goldoni's house, Ca' Pesaro and the Museum of Natural History - 11 great museums in all!
Please find below a short description of each site:
Doge's Palace The official house of government throughout most of Venice's Ducal history, the Doge's Palace has both historical and artistic appeal. The rooms of the palace are decorated by Venetian artists, such as Titian, Tiepolo, Veronese and Tintoretto.
Museo Correr The museum of Venetian History includes displays collections of armory and Venice's Naval History. The Correr also houses an impressive collection of Canova's sculptures.
Museo Archeologico The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia houses one of the most important collections of ancient Greek sculpture, including the famed statue of Leda and the Swan. The museum also displays ceramics, bronzes, gems and coins.
Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Marciana The Biblioteca Marciana was designed by Jacopo Sansovia to house Greek and Latin codices donated to the Republic in 1468. The Monumental Rooms of the library now display the original edifice by Zecca, precious and rare manuscripts, and artwork by Tiziano, Veronese and Tintoretto.
Ca' Rezzonico This palace along the Grand Canal features 18th century Venetian paintings, including works by Luonghi, Tiepolo and Canaletto.
Palazzo Mocenigo The palazzo at San Stae is dedicated to a collection of 18th century furnishings and painting, and houses the Center for Textiles and Costumes.
House of Carlo Goldini Birthplace of the famous poet, Carlo Goldini, the Palazzo Centani now displays Venetian theatrical memorabilia and is home of the puppet theater from Ca'Grimani ai Servi. The palazzo also houses a large library of theatrical manuscripts and materials.
Ca' Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art Palazzo Pesaro exhibits collections of 19th and 20th century paintings and sculpture by artists such as Klimt, Chagall, Matisse, and Kandinsky.
Murano Glass Museum The Glass Museum, located in the Palazzo Giustiniani, displays both archaeological glass and a historical glass collection which shows the many eras of Murano glass production.
Burano Lace Museum Displays detail the evolution of Venice's famous lace-making school and feature examples of exceptional quality.
Museum of Natural History The palace of the Fontego dei Turchi, center of the Natural History Museum, was erected in the first half of the XIII century by the Pesaro family. The name is derived from the short period during which the building was the center of trade (Fontego = fondaco, warehouse) and diplomatic work between the Ottoman Empire and Venice.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is recognized as one of Europe's premier museums dedicated to European and American art of the first half of the 20th century. This fascinating and eccentric collection is located in Venice's Grand Canal (precisely in Palazzo Venier dai Leoni), where the heiress Guggenheim herself lived for nearly 30 years. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection displays artwork from different sources, such as the Permanent Collection of Peggy Guggenheim, the Nasher Sculpture Garden (which presents sculptures that complement the permanent collection), the Gianni Mattioli Collection, and other works belonging to the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation. The museum represents an outstanding combination between traditional and modern art. It also holds major works of different artistic movements (such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Expressionism, etc.) created by some of the greatest modern artists.
The polished turbines and archaic engines of Rome's first municipal electric plant, which opened in 1912, make for fascinating modern sculpture, especially when set against the ancient sculpture now on display here -- 400 antique marble and bronze works from the rich collection of the Capitoline Museums. This abandoned factory was converted into a museum in 1997 during the restructuring of the Capitoline Museum complex.
At that time, the exhibition The Machines and the Gods was created to display side by side two diametrically opposed worlds, those of classical art and of industrial archeology. In an atmospheric game of contrasts, the old machinery of electricity production is the backdrop for masterpieces of ancient sculpture arranged in four interconnecting galleries: the Atrium, the Columned Hall, the Machine Hall and the Boiler Room.
The display reconstructs some of the great monumental complexes of Ancient Rome and illustrates the development of the city from the Republican era to the late imperial age. Centrale Montemartini is also used to showcase the Capitoline Museum's most recent acquisitions, making repeated visits to this fascinating site a must for anyone with an interest in Ancient Rome.
Take a captivating journey through time at the Domus Romane, a 20,000 square foot complex with two 4th century AD patrician villas and the remains of a private thermal bath situated next to Trajan's Forum in the heart of Imperial Rome. Sophisticated multimedia reconstructions featuring computer-generated projections and realistic light and sound effects plunge spectators into Roman life as it was lived almost 1,700 years ago.
A wealth of mosaics, polychrome wall veneers, fountains and frescoes attests to the high rank of the villa's owners, who were probably magistrates or senators. Archaeologists stumbled on the villas in 2005 during repair work on the underground areas of the 16th-century Palazzo Valentini, the seat of Rome's Provincial Administration. Because of the fragmentary state of the ruins, videos are used to reconstruct not only what the villas may have looked like but also scenes from daily life in ancient Rome - crowds cheering victorious centurions, a glimpse of a chaotic food market and a mugging in a dimly lighted back alley. At the tour's end, visitors spill out into Trajan's Forum after passing through a series of tunnels and air-raid shelters dating from 1939.
With its cutting-edge design and 312,000 square-feet of space, located on the grounds of a former military barracks in Rome's Flaminio district, the MAXXI Museum has recently added a shining star to Rome's diverse architectural landscape. The name comes from the blending of the words Modern Art (or MA) and XXI, the number 21 in Roman numerals; this is no coincidence since the building's clean, unadorned lines featuring white concrete walls, stark black steel stairs and a glass roof that filters in natural light are a fitting representation of 21st century aesthetics.
Designed by the Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win, in 2004, the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, the building's elegant curves and stunning interior spaces have been very much appreciated on an international level. MAXXI was awarded the prestigious Stirling Prize and was later declared World Building of the Year 2010 at the World Architecture Festival of Barcelona.
Officially called the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, the building houses two separate museums -- MAXXI Art and MAXXI Architecture – and the permanent collection of 300 works includes pieces by Balla, Morandi, De Chirico, De Pisis, Guttuso, Fontana, Kandinsky, Kapoor, Richter and Andy Warhol, among others, providing a nice counterpoint to the classics that fill most of the city's other museums. But that's not all: MAXXI is also a research workshop where, alongside exhibits on contemporary art and architecture, design, fashion, film and advertising are featured in a multidisciplinary cultural center.
Buy Colosseum and Roman Forum Pass Any visit to Rome must include a visit to the ancient heart of the city, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Now it's possible to reserve entrance to all three sites with just one ticket! The price also includes One Select Italy Gift Certificate valued at $5.00. By far the wisest and most convenient reservation you can make for your trip to Rome, the Colosseum and Forum Pass allows you access to all three sites. Visit the Colosseum at your reserved date/time and the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill on the same day as the Colosseum, or go the following day.
You can stay in the sites as long as you like. In addition, all three sites are located just steps away from one another, allowing for easy touring. Due to security changes, all visitors must first pass through security checks and a metal detector. There is no way to skip this line and the average wait time is approximately 1.5 hours (as of April 2016). Please Note: Select Italy Gift Certificates have no inherent cash value and can only be redeemed once on Select Italy's website. Select Italy Gift Certificates are not transferable.
Italy is known as the land of the three F's: Fashion, Food and Ferrari. And if you happen to be a Ferrari enthusiast, you might consider dropping by the stunning Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, dedicated to the brand and its illustrious founder.
The museum's elegant curves and lines resemble a 1950's race car hood, making it one of the most unique and futuristic buildings in the country. Yellow was chosen as the color for the museum since it is the original color of the Ferrari brand and of the city of Modena.
The innovative structure embraces a much older building, the house in which Enzo Ferrari was born in 1898. This was done to give the idea that its founder will always be at the heart and soul of the brand, but that Ferrari is always developing and seeking to break new limits in the future.
As you enter the building, you will plunge into a sphere of pictures and images: 19 projectors screen videos of Ferrari's history across an immense, multi-projection display that surrounds and envelops visitors. Ferrari cars, as well as a wide range of engines, are showcased within the new structure.
Ferrari is one of the most recognizable brand names in the world: the prancing horse is a symbol of Italian luxury and craftsmanship that has few rivals. And you don't have to be a car lover to appreciate and enjoy a visit to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, a small factory town situated about 20 minutes south of Modena. The museum is divided into three distinct sections so you can live the full Ferrari racing experience.
One area is dedicated to more interactive activities; here you can try the semi-professional simulators of Formula 1 or challenge yourself to a tire change on an actual Formula 1 car. Another area is devoted road cars and racing cars, from both the past and the present, displayed in themed exhibitions that change throughout the year. Finally comes the section on Formula 1 that recalls the many races won by Ferrari's world championship drivers. There is also a Cinema Room where you can relax and watch evocative movies featuring the historic brand.
Your fascinating private walking tour starts at the Vatican Museums, where you will take a journey of discovery to the Gallery of Maps, Raphael's Rooms and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Best of all, when you book your Vatican Museums Art History Walking Tour with your own private art historian, you can skip the line when you reach the Vatican Museums. There's no need to waste time waiting in lines when you're on vacation!
Next, youll visit St Peters Basilica to admire the famous artworks by Michelangelo and Bernini, where your private walking tour concludes. Please note that St Peters Basilica closes at 7 pm so the Vatican evening tours would not include this.
This in-depth private tour of the Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica is hosted by an English-speaking guide specializing in art history. Please list any special interests you have (art, architecture, history, culture) at the time of booking to alert your guide, so they can prepare for your private tour.
After meeting a representative and exchanging your voucher, gain quick access to the Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese), one of the best art collections in Rome, made up of classical sculptures, Renaissance paintings and priceless antiquities. You can also enjoy a view over Piazza del Popolo and stroll through the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens. This skip-the-line ticket provides fast-track access so you don't have to wait in the admission line.
Collection highlights (subject to change, as works are sometimes lent to other museums):
- The Caravaggio Room (St Jerome, David with the Head of Goliath)
- Bernini sculptures (Apollo and Daphne, David)
- Canova sculpture (Pauline Bonaparte)
- Works by Raphael (The Deposition, Lady with Unicorn)
- Perugino (Madonna and Child)
- Rubens (The Deposition)
For a small additional fee, you can upgrade your ticket to join a guided tour. An expert guide will add value to your experience by pointing out the highlights of the Borghese Gallery and sharing the fascinating stories behind the art. Your tour also includes a guided visit of the famous Villa Borghese gardens. The groups are small, never more than 20 people, ensuring personal attention from your knowledgeable guide. The duration of the guided tour is 3 hours.
With your private guide, head straight inside the Vatican Museums for your intimate tour. If there is anything you particularly want to see, let your guide know. The best thing about having a private guide is that the commentary can be tailored to the things that interest you most: be it art, history or tales of the sometimes-scandalous Vatican popes.
Stroll through Raphaels Rooms as your guide talks about the talented artists who designed masterpieces for the popes. With tales of Renaissance-era rivalries ringing in your ears, continue through the Pinecone Courtyard, Gallery of the Maps and Gallery of the Tapestries, and then step inside the Sistine Chapel.
Home to some of the most influential pieces of Western artwork in the world, the sacred chapel is sure to be a highlight. Stand amid the hushed quiet talking is forbidden and gaze at Michelangelos frescoes of The Creation of Adam, which cloaks the ceiling, and The Last Judgement.
From the chapel, wander through to St Peters Basilica, the Vaticans iconic late-Renaissance church. Hear more tales of Michelangelo as you view La Pietà, and admire Berninis bronze baldachin that frames the papal altar. Then, take a turn around St Peters Square to discover Berninis use of optical illusion at the colonnades.
Your tour then finishes at St. Peters Square.
The rule of the Medici family in Renaissance-era Florence led to an explosion of scientific progress and the rise of humanism. This Galileo Museum Florence Tour, led by a social or art historian, will introduce you to sites around the city, including the Galileo Museum, that stand as testament to this era of intellectual progress. The Medici’s Cosimo I and Ferdinand I were fervent patrons of the sciences, especially astronomy. Under their rule, Florence became a shining beacon for experimentation, which the Roman church was frantically trying to suppress with the Inquisition. At the same time, humanism, stemming from the study of ancient Greek and Latin texts, was a new way of thinking about a man’s place in the world, and became a recurring theme in Renaissance literature, art and society. Galileo Museum Florence Tour We begin our walk at the Museo Galileo, where the most important Medicean collections of scientific instruments are preserved (for more on the great family, see our Medici Tour Florence). The greatest among these collections include some of the original instruments that Galileo Galilei, one of the most outstanding figures of the Scientific Revolution, used for his groundbreaking experiments. Our encounter with Galileo will shed some light on the Medicean systems of patronage, and on the way in which scientists shaped their own image inside a court. Hitting the Streets After visiting the museum, we will head to the center of town in order to trace the role of humanism in Renaissance Florence; be it through a delve into the poetry of Dante and Petrarch, a discussion of the drastic changes in the art of the period or of the growing interest in the study of the traditional liberal arts.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 A.D. He is widely accepted as the first author who wrote in the everyday vernacular that soon evolved into modern Italian, as well as credited with the creation of Italy's most enduring literary work, The Divine Comedy. Comprised of three separate volumes, the poem details a journey in the afterlife through L'inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise), and is as much a historical chronicle as it is a literary achievement. Written entirely after Dante's 1301 exile from the city, The Divine Comedy is a window into nearly every aspect of medieval history, theology, politics, art, and culture; in particular as it relates to Florence. During the course of this three-hour Dante Tour in Florence, led by a scholar of Italian literature, we will follow Dante's path through the city, exploring the places and characters that inspired his masterpiece—and, by extension explore both the life of Dante Alighieri as a historical figure and The Divine Comedy as a work of fiction where Florence as a city plays a central role. Dante Tour Florence We usually begin at the Baptistery, where Dante himself was baptized and where he later took inspiration for writing his L'inferno, drawing from the building's Biblical mosaics depicting the Last Judgment. We will move from here to Dante's neighborhood, deep in the heart of medieval Florence, where we will find Dante's home and his local church. It was here that he first encountered Beatrice, his beloved muse and spiritual guide for whom he wrote The Divine Comedy. Then and Now Along the way, we will see where Dante's enemies lived and explore the innumerable tucked away locations important to Dante's tory: corners, side streets and piazzas where many of his characters came to life. We will also visit Palazzo della Lana, important during Dante's time, as the location of the Wool Guild, but which today serves as The Dante Society meeting place, as well as the Dante Library where scholars from around the world come to continue to study his over 700 year-old poem.
While walking Florence, one can't help but run into the symbols of the Medici, the great Renaissance family that ruled this city politically during the Renaissance and patronized its prominent artists, including Michelangelo. During this Medici Tour in Florence, led by an art or social historian, we'll focus on the history and patronage of the family, visiting several key sites connected with them, including the Medici Chapels and Medici Palace. Medici Tour Florence We begin chronologically with the church of San Marco, which was the family church of the Medici during their early history. This quiet space, a bit off the tourist track, will provide a pleasant backdrop for laying the groundwork of the Medici family history, especially their massive patronage to the arts. We'll step into the attached convent, where in the 1430s Cosimo the Elder founded one of the first public libraries in the world, but which now serves as a museum that hosts the greatest works of Fra Angelico, who was once a friar here. We will visit the monks' former private cells, all of which house a sacred image intended for meditation, including Cosimo's private cell. The Rise and Fall of Medici’s Reign We will then move on to the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, designed by Michelozzo (who also redesigned the convent of San Marco for the Dominicans), and the seat of Medici power in Florence for over a century. In doing so, we will trace the family from the era of the Republic to the era of the duchy, and their rise from rich merchants to rulers of a kingdom. We will make a special visit to the Chapel of the Magi, decorated by Benozzo Gozzoli, which is a masterpiece of Renaissance fresco (a skill you can learn in our Fresco Painting in Florence Workshop). San Lorenzo Finally, we will visit the unfinished church of San Lorenzo, which was intended to be sole dominion of the Medici family at the end of their power. We will examine the work of Michelangelo, in the family chapel he created, which includes the tombs of Lorenzo il Magnifico and brother Giuliano, and discuss the Medici's art patronage, most notably personified in the figure of the great sculptor. Take Aways Throughout the walk, we will revert to common, recurring themes: the relationship between power and art, the political upheavals gave birth to the artistic revolutions of the Renaissance, and the humanistic impulse of one of the most interesting families in history.
5 fully-planned days in Rome & Naples, including luxury hotel accommodation.
Photos & Highlights
- Multi-day tour including accommodation and select meals
- A comprehensive view of Ancient Roman art and archaeology, and its impact on the modern city
- Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Ostia Antica Archaeological Site, and Pompeii Archaeological Site
Our Context Journeys are fully-planned trips, including luxury hotel accommodation, specifically designed to reveal some of our favorite cities. They operate on fixed dates and place you with a lead guide who will accompany you throughout your entire stay.
Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome, with Context Journeys
The cradle of European civilization, Italy has often been described as a living museum. That’s true no place more than Rome, where each circuitous, scenic street is built upon the hidden histories of the Ancient Empire. Alongside a Context Expert specializing in Italian history and archaeology, our Italian archaeological survey will explore the most important sites of the ancient Roman world, including the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Ostia Antica, and Pompeii.
Over the course of five days, this journey will help you understand the role of archaeology in history, teaching you to read ruins to reconstruct ancient cities, and showing you how the ancient world shaped the food and culture of modern Italy. We’ll balance visits to major archaeological sites like the Roman Forum and Pompeii with stops at the lesser-known locations of Ostia Antica, and spend time discussing the daily life, cuisine, and habits of modern Romans. A native Roman and archaeologist, your Context expert will help you understand the Roman Empire at its height and early stages of its decline, before the start of the Renaissance.
Your Context Journey includes:
- On Tour: Context Expert Lead Guide, Context supporting expert guides, professional tour leader.
- Transfers: Private transfers based on flight arrival and departure times.
- Food & Drink: Select meals, plus welcome and farewell receptions. Bottled water throughout.
- Accommodation: 5 nights in the 5-star Hotel de la Ville in Rome, a Rocco Forte Hotel (or similar).
- Logistics: Baggage handling and taxes.
- Activities/Fees: Included for all per itinerary.
Journey highlights include:
- Trace the history of Rome from its days as a hub of the Roman Empire through to its modern incarnation, in the company of an archaeologist.
- Explore the historical core of Rome, understanding the inner workings of the city and its role as the hub of an Empire through visits to the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and key underground sites.
- Understand the origins and evolution of Roman cuisine through a dinner and wine experience guided by a culinary historian.
- Take a guided excursion to the amazingly preserved ruins of Pompeii, weaving through ancient Roman roads, shops, homes, and baths while learning about Roman politics and society.
Your Expert Guide
Dimosthenis is an Italian-Greek archaeologist, with a Ph.D. in temple architecture of the Roman Republic from La Sapienza University in Rome. As a scholar, he studied a variety of topics including Latin epigraphy and Roman pottery; as an archaeologist, he has worked on various excavations throughout Rome, including the Roman Forum, Palatine, and the Mausoleum of Augustus. He is particularly interested in the relationship between iconography and architecture in ancient Greece and Rome.
With this ticket, you can enter the Colosseum once( express tour included) and the Roman Forum across two days, as well as access Santa Maria Antiqua and Romulus' temple, which were only ever accessible on a guided tour previously!
Step into Loggia Mattei and the Aula Isiaca, open only to S.U.P.E.R ticket holders. Learn of the ancient history and discover the meaning behind the extraordinary paintings which adorn the walls through new multimedia exhibits at the House of Livia. In the House of Augustus, Emperor Augustus' main place of residence, Additionally, at the Neronian Cryptoporticus, you can walk the path built by Nero to connect his Golden House with other imperial palaces on Palatine Hill.
Visit: Colosseum, Rome, Lazio
S.U.P.E.R. stands for Seven Unique Places to Experience in Rome, and it's the ticket everyone is talking about! Explore new and exciting areas of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Palatine Museum, and the Neronian Cryptoporticus. This ticket includes some parts of Ancient Rome that have never been open to the public before!