A rich tapestry of art and history serves as the backdrop to the vital, bustling city of Rome, our newest European getaway. Enjoy the many museums, monuments, and churches that showcase masterpieces from ancient Rome to the Renaissance and Baroque, and savor fabulous restaurants and evening strolls during your stay.
Take an in-depth tour of the Vatican Museums and view vast art collections, culminating with a visit to the Sistine Chapel, where you’ll stand in awe at Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescoes. Continue to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the breathtaking work of Michelangelo, Bernini, Bramante, and other renowned artists and architects. During a tour of the Roman Forum learn about ancient Rome’s mighty political, judicial, and commercial center. At the Colosseum your guide will stir your imagination with the amazing events and contests that once took place here. You can also take advantage of a scheduled optional full-day tour to Pompeii and Naples. Plus, your Smithsonian expert will enhance your stay by offering special insights about the city, and you’ll have time to explore sites on your own.
This program offers an incredible value, as it also includes international airfare, first-class accommodations, and many meals, plus the services of a tour director and Smithsonian expert! Limited to 36 participants.Check out our slide show for a photo journey of this tour!
View photos by clicking "Next Photo" at the top of the page!Itinerary
Day 1 and 2 — U.S. to Rome, Italy
Depart the U.S. for your overnight flight to Rome, Italy. Upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport transfer to the Hotel Victoria Rome
. An Representative will be available at the Activity Resource Desk to assist with sightseeing arrangements, dinner or shopping suggestions, or any other assistance you may require. Please refer to the signboard for hours.
Embark upon a refreshing orientation walk through the neighborhood surrounding the Hotel Victoria Rome
This evening, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome to Rome Reception at the hotel.Day 3 — Rome
Step inside Vatican City
, the world’s smallest sovereign state. Along with an expert guide, examine the priceless collection of art housed in the Vatican Museums, including masterpieces of ancient Roman sculpture. Glimpse the exquisite gardens of the Pope, then visit the Sistine Chapel
and admire its monumental frescoed ceiling and Michelangelo’s magnificent painting “The Last Judgment.” Conclude with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica
, the largest cathedral in the world, including a discussion of Michelangelo’s Pietŕ
, a masterful marble statue depicting Jesus in the lap of his mother after the Crucifixion. Sculpted between 1498 and 1499, it is the only sculpture that Michelangelo ever signed. (B, D)Day 4 — Rome
Continue your discovery of the Eternal City with a visit the Colosseum
, the site where gladiators and wild beasts fought to the death to entertain emperors and roaring crowds of 50,000. Then explore the Roman Forum
, the center of ancient Roman public life where orators addressed crowds, vendors peddled food and wares and supplicants prayed to the gods at the many temples. Visualize the heyday of the bustling city center on a walking tour. Stand in the shadow of the Senate House, built in 44 B.C. by Julius Caesar, and the Arch of Titus, built in A.D. 70 in honor of Titus’s military victories. Marvel at the 4th-century Arch of Constantine, built after his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, which led to the eventual conversion of pagan Rome to Christianity. Many of these structures are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the historic center of Rome. (B)Day 5 — Rome
Continue your exploration of Rome on your own.
You may choose to join an optional tour to Pompeii and Naples
. Travel along the Autostrada del Sole
, the Highway of the Sun, through the Lazio and Campania regions and admire stunning views along the way. Catch a glimpse of the glorious Abbey of Montecassino
, completely destroyed during World War II and since rebuilt, perched high on a hilltop. Then, explore the ancient city of Pompeii
, which was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. On a walking tour of this World Heritage site
, discover what life was like on that fateful day. The Forum, the baths, and many houses, some with elaborate mosaics and frescoes, remain well preserved. Then, travel to Naples
and sample Naples’ most famous dish—pizza—at a traditional pizzeria. After lunch, enjoy a panoramic tour of the historic center of Naples. Start at the top of the hill for an aerial view of the city and the entire Bay of Naples, then drive into the city and see Castel Nuovo, San Francesco di Paola, Teatro San Carlo and the Royal Palace
. Continue on to Old Naples
and witness its medieval streets and churches. (B)Days 6 — Rome
Enjoy a full day exploring Rome on your own.
You may join an optional excursion and venture off the beaten path to take a leisurely stroll through the Monti Quarter
, a neighborhood filled with art galleries, artisan workshops, boutiques and cafés. This ancient neighborhood was one of the first Roman communities. Over the centuries, it has counted artists such as Michelangelo and Bernini as residents. The emperor Trajan built a forum here, and Nero, dressed as a common man, often mingled with the locals. Walk the Via Urbana
, explore the Piazza degli Zingari
and continue to the Suburra
, whose most famous son must be Julius Caesar. Pay an exclusive visit to Studio Cassio
, workshop of some of Italy’s best mosaic artists and restorers, to meet these remarkable artists and see a demonstration of their work, and stop for coffee and a pastry at a café. (B,D)Day 7 — Rome to U.S.
Depart Rome for your return flights to the U.S. (B)
Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to operating conditions.