Insider's Rome

Delve deep into the history and mystery of Rome with an insider’s look at the Eternal City’s vibrant culture and astonishing abundance of artistic treasures on this VIP insider's access tour of the Eternal City.

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 The legendary Roman Colosseum  A higher tier of the Roman Colosseum  The Roman Forum  The Roman Forum  View of St. Peter's Basilica  View of Rome from St. Peter’s Basilica, with Bernini’s colonnade  The vast interior of St. Peter’s Basilica   Interior of St. Peter's Basilica with Bernini's Baldacchino, or canopy, over the high altar  Michelangelo’s early Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican  Typical Roman lunch spot  Artichokes, a traditional Roman appetizer  Biscotti, a traditional Italian pastry  Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in the Piazza Navona  Trevi Fountain  Trevi Fountain

On this eight-day insider's tour, you'll have special access to Rome’s finest art collections, ancient archaeological sites, and lesser-known gems. Explore the famous Colosseum on a private tour that features the third tier and underground area. Enjoy private tours of architectural masterpieces and world-class Renaissance art collections, such as the Villa Farnesina, the Villa Doria Pamphili, and the Borghese Gallery.  Visit the very exclusive Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic.   And at the Vatican, you'll have a guided visit to the expansive St. Peter's Basilica (including the tomb of St. Peter) and the Vatican Museums, culminating in the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's breathtaking ceiling frescoes, and the unique Vatican excavations. You'll also enjoy free time to explore more of what Rome has to offer—dozens of art museums, amazing churches, and cafés in picturesque piazzas. This tour of la bella Roma allows for an in-depth and culturally rich look at one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world.


Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Rome, Italy

Day 2 — Arrive in Rome

Arrive in Rome and transfer from the airport to your hotel. This evening, get to know your fellow tour participants at a festive welcome reception and dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 —Colosseum and Roman Forum

Take an in-depth look at Roman life with a visit to the iconic Colosseum, begun by Emperor Vespasian in A.D. 70 and completed ten years later during the reign of his son, Titus as a venue for gladiatorial games and other events. Enjoy a private guided tour of the underground areas—the “backstage” of the Colosseum—and the third tier, which offers spectacular views of the arena and beyond. Enjoy a lunch together savoring typical Roman dishes. In the afternoon, meet with an archaeologist who will be your guide inside the Roman Forum—once the teeming heart of Rome and the epicenter of ancient Roman life and government. (B,L)

Day 4 — Villa Farnesina, Villa Doria Pamphili

Begin the day with a guided visit to the Villa Farnesina, built in the early 16th century for the wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi. This suburban Renaissance palace features frescos by a variety of artists, including well-known works by Raphael. Then enjoy guided sightseeing with a visit to the 17th-century Villa Doria Pamphili, featuring the largest landscaped public park in Rome and a fine collection of antiquities and sculpture. (B)

Day 5 — Vatican City

Today, visit the world’s smallest country, Vatican City. Begin with an awe-inspiring tour of the museum, including the Sistine Chapel with its world-famous works by Michelangelo. Then move on to the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica, which remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom. After lunch, descend to the unique Vatican excavations and step back in time in one of the Vatican’s best kept secrets. Inside, visit the partially excavated Roman Necropolis—a dark city of house-like mausoleums arranged along narrow, dimly-lit streets, and adorned with frescoes, inscriptions, and stucco decorations.  It is also known to be the home of the tomb of St. Peter, recognized by the Vatican as the first pope. This evening is free to explore Rome on your own. (B)

Day 6 — Borghese Gallery

Visit the beautiful Borghese Gallery this morning for a guided tour of its impressive collection of paintings, sculpture, and antiquities, including numerous pieces by Bernini and Caravaggio, as well as works by Titian, Raphael, Rubens, and many others. (B)

Day 7 — Rome and the President of the Italian Republic’s Residence

Enjoy a guided visit to Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. Located on the highest of Rome’s seven hills, it was begun in 1583 as a summer residence for Pope Gregory XIII and is one of the largest palaces in the world. In the late 19th century, it became the official residence of the new Kings of Italy. Take a panoramic bus tour, encompassing all the sites, monuments, and history of this vast city featuring commentary from your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. This evening, celebrate your Roman holiday with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 8 — Depart Rome

Transfer from the hotel to the airport for homebound flights. (B)