Private Full-Day Tours in Rome including the Vatican, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Catacombs and Spanish Steps


 
Private Full-Day Tours in Rome
Vatican, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Catacombs, Spanish Steps

Please read this urgent message about your tour


We also offer a three-hour tour including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and hotel pick-up.

Vatican & Walking Tour of Ancient and Baroque Rome
The Vatican, the Roman Coliseum and the Catacombs
Rome's Two Religions
Troubled Times for Rome's Religions
Full-Day Catacombs, Roman Empire Museum, Coliseum & Forum
Half-Day Catacombs & San Clemente


For those of you who wish to truly maximize your time in Rome, this is the ideal solution. We offer four fascinating options for your day, each of which includes being picked up at and returned to your downtown Rome hotel or residence. We regret that we cannot guarantee the chronological order of your day in advance, but whichever tour you choose, at the end of the morning, your driver will take you to a spot in central Rome where you can have a relaxing lunch on your own. Naturally, your guide will be happy to recommend his or her favorite eatery, commensurate with the size of your appetite! After lunch, your driver will return to take you to the second half of the day's activities.

 

Vatican & Walking Tour of Ancient and Baroque Rome

This tour includes a three-hour tour of the Vatican Museums, where your private guide will help you make sense and enjoyment out of the world's largest artistic labyrinth. The museum tour concludes at the Sistine Chapel, and afterwards you and your guide will stroll over to visit St. Peter's Cathedral. For the other half of your tour, you'll stroll through the Roman Forum, center of political and social activity under the emperors. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also its business district and civic center. It was expanded to include temples, a senate house and law courts. When the Roman Empire fell, the Forum became forgotten and was used as a cattle pasture during the Middle Ages. It was not uncovered again until the early 20th century, and you'll find out why. At the far end of the Forum stands Rome's most famous monument, the Coliseum. You will skip the ticket lines and enter the amphitheater, which Emperor Vespasian began around 70 AD in a low-lying area surrounded by the hills where Rome's patricians had their lavish villas. Previously, all amphitheaters had been constructed of wood. These structures were vulnerable to fire and occasionally collapsed under the weight of the spectators. Thus the Roman Coliseum was both a technical innovation and an enormous gift to the public. Ancient historians estimate that as many as 9,000 animals were killed in those games; thousands of gladiators also fought to entertain the masses. From his private "box seat" the emperor decided the fate of those gladiators defeated in battle. You may sit in that very area as your guide explains what went on for centuries in this, probably the most famous stage ever built in the world. Afterwards, you will stroll through the Baroque part of Rome, including Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona and, time permitting, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. At the end of the tour, you may stay in the area on your own, or your guide will call a taxi for you.


The Vatican, the Roman Coliseum and the Catacombs

Three hours of this tour are dedicated to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's as described above. For the other half of your tour, you will skip the ticket lines and have a guided tour of the Coliseum as described above, and then you'll travel by car to see the ancient Appian Way. This was once the most important road in the world, and still today it maintains a feeling of faded glory. You'll see where the original marble pavers have been scarred by centuries of chariot wheels; you'll walk past the tombs of the Imperial families; you'll spot ancient road signs that have survived for two millennia. Because there is no traffic on this road, and it is surrounded by quiet Roman countryside (and the estates of a few modern Roman millionaires!), you can really imagine how it may have been when Spartacus led thousands of uprising slaves along its length so many years ago. You'll also visit the most important and interesting Roman catacomb. You'll be allowed to enter on your own, without a group, and once inside your guide will lead you down into the dark tunnels where clandestine Christians worshipped and were buried. You'll see the loculi where their sheet-wrapped bodies were laid to rest, and you'll learn to decipher the secret symbols that only Christians understood. At the end of the tour, you may stay in the area on your own, or your guide will call a taxi for you.



Rome's Two Religions

This tour includes a three-hour tour of the Vatican Museums as described above, plus an in-depth discovery of Jewish Rome. Many don't know it, but Rome has Europe's oldest Jewish community. The Jews in Italy have strong bi-cultural roots which go back even before the birth of Christ, when the Jews already had an alliance with the Roman Empire. Under the leadership of Judah Maccabeus, many Israelites left the land of Israel to go to the "Eternal City" (Rome) in the second century BCE. It was not until the Romans destroyed the second temple in Jerusalem [70 CE] that the Jewish/Roman alliance was broken and the Jews were forced into slavery. About ten thousand Jews were transported to Rome and forced to help build the Coliseum. Although enslaved, the Jewish population in Rome flourished. Thirteen synagogues were built as well as numerous cemeteries. However, many Romans despised the Jews and found their rituals to be barbaric. The tolerance for religious freedom started to take a turn for the worse in 380 CE when Christianity was recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire, with very little tolerance for Jews and other religious cults. By the second half of the 16th century the church instituted the Papal Bul: All Jews were to be enclosed in ghettos, each community could have only one synagogue, all commercial and civil rights were taken away, and all Jews had to wear a contrassegno (identification). In 1516 the first Jewish ghetto was established in Venice and in 1555 a ghetto was established in Rome. Both were overcrowded and dirty, but the study of Torah and Talmud flourished between their closed walls so ironically, rather than destroy Jewish culture, they actually helped it to blossom and grow. It was not until the arrival of Napoleon that the doors of the ghettos were torn down. But when Napoleon was defeated, the Jews were thrown back into the ghettos and once again their rights were taken away. Your private walking tour retraces all this fascinating history, moving backwards from the Fosse Ardeatine, a site near the Christian catacombs where over 300 Romans (including 73 Jews) were massacred by Nazi occupiers in reprisal for a partisan attack. The tour continues to Isola Tiberina and the Ghetto. Here you walk from the ancient island in the middle of the Tiber River, through the recently excavated gateway to Rome. After a stroll through il ghetto, which is no longer walled but is still the heart of the Roman Jewish Community, your guide will leave you at the impressive Synagogue (completed in 1906). If you wish, you may continue the day on your own with a guided visit to the Temple and its excellent historical museum.





Troubled Times for Rome's Religions

This tour combines the tour of the Appian Way and the Catacombs as described above, and the discovery of Jewish Rome as described above.


Each half of these tours lasts three hours. We regret that we cannot guarantee the chronological order of your day in advance. Prices include private car or taxi transfers as described above, entrance tickets, and personal tour guide. Meals are not included and the Synagogue visit is not included. You may have to wait briefly before the museum doors open but you will not have to go to the end of the long line.  Children under 6 years old are free of charge.  Students between the ages of 6-16 receive an 8 Euro/person discount on entrance tickets. If your group numbers more than 7, you will hear the guide better if you purchase audio headsets at the door for 2 Euro/person. The tours are available in English or Spanish.


The Coliseum and Roman Forum are closed on December 25.
The synagogue is closed on Saturdays.

Click here to see what days the Vatican museums are closed


Click here to consult a calendar

2016 Prices
Special info:
You may have to wait briefly before the museum doors open
but you will not have to go to the end of the long line.
1 person 686.00 Euro/group
2 people 735.00 Euro/group
3 people 783.00 Euro/group
4 people 872.00 Euro/group
5 people 921.00 Euro/group
6 people 1010.00 Euro/group
7 people 1059.00 Euro/group




Full-Day Catacombs, Roman Empire Museum, Coliseum & Forum



I
f you bring children to Italy, you really owe it to them to make ancient Rome magical, and this is the tour that does it. Your guide, a longtime Rome resident, will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and travel with you by private car to the ancient Appian Way, passing the Circus Maximus, laid out below the villas of the ancient emperors, just as it was 2000 years ago.

 



T
he Appian Way was once the most important road in the world, and still today it maintains a feeling of faded glory. You'll see where the original marble pavers have been scarred by centuries of chariot wheels; you'll walk past the tombs of the Imperial families; you'll spot ancient road signs that have survived for two millennia. Because there is no traffic on this road, and it is surrounded by quiet Roman countryside (and the estates of a few Roman millionaires!), you can really imagine how it may have been when Spartacus led thousands of uprising slaves along its length so many years ago.

 





Y
ou'll also visit the most important and interesting Roman catacomb. You'll be allowed to enter on your own, without a group, and once inside your guide will distribute flashlights as you descend into the dark tunnels where clandestine Christians worshipped and were buried. You'll see the loculi where their sheet-wrapped bodies were laid to rest, and you'll learn to decipher the secret symbols that only Christians understood.

 

Next you're on your way to Mussolini's version of Imperial Rome, a neighborhood of gigantic faux-Roman monuments. One of the most impressive structures is the Museum of Ancient Civilization. Sadly neglected (but blessedly empty!), this just might be the best place on earth to ignite a youngster's interest in history. Because it is hard to get here on your own, and there are no explanations for visitors, it's the perfect place to see with a guide. Here everyone will be fascinated by brilliantly crafted models that illustrate the evolution of Rome, starting from its earliest origins.

 

A miniature of the first settlement clearly shows the Seven Hills (which today are dwarfed by apartment buildings). Nearby are cutaways of the straw huts that were inhabited by those primitive Romans. From here you'll begin to retrace the development of the insignificant riverside hamlet as it grew to become the greatest empire on earth. You'll thrill to intricate recreations of a tenement, aqueducts, baths, theatres, amphitheatres, circuses, forums, temples, streets, roads. When you get to the emperors' rooms, you will be fascinated by true-to-life models of Caesar's battles and sieges, including the bridge that his legions built across the Rhine. As your guide will explain, this was the first bridge ever to cross that mighty river. Just imagine how the terrified Germanic tribes watched and trembled while the legions erected the 1700-foot-long structure, in a mere ten days! Seeing this model, what might have been a dry history lesson suddenly comes to life!

 

The museum has many of these miniatures, each with a story your guide will relate. Because the rooms are 30 feet tall, you will also encounter many life-size recreations of long-gone monuments the Romans erected in provinces throughout the Mediterranean. You'll see a model of the Coliseum as it was then, plus warships alongside models of the harbors they sailed into, actual city gates, the family tree of Augustus (a picture of a tree with royal names pinned on its limbs!), a plastic recreation of Hadrian's villa, and life-size replicas of the dread Roman war machines.

 

All this, and you haven't even come to the stars of the museum! These are available to view on alternate days, so we can't promise whether you'll see the huge model of Constantine Rome, which was based on a 3rd BC map and is constantly updated as new discoveries are made; or the plaster casts of Trajan's Column. Built in 113 to commemorate the emperor's victories in the Dacian Wars of 101-103 and 105-106 AD, the column stands in central Rome; these perfect casts were commissioned in 1860 by Napoleon III, and show 2500 exquisitely carved soldiers embroiled in lively battle scenes.

 

Next, after a nice break for lunch, you will return by private car to the REAL Coliseum, one of the most famous monuments on earth. Here you'll skip the line and enter the amphitheatre, which originally held 50,000 spectators. Used for 500 years to host gladiatorial games and public spectacles, it was also the scene of mock naval battles, animal hunts, executions and dramas. Your guide will bring these scenes to life as you look around and remember the museum model of what it originally looked like.

 

Afterwards you'll walk next door for a stroll through the Roman Forum. What today might look like a mass of crumbling ruins will now come to life, thanks to your visit to the museum. Even after the tour as you are driven back to your hotel, and during the rest of your stay in Rome, you'll be on a scavenger hunt to find the remains of an empire that has now come to life before your very eyes!

 

These tours are available on request every day except Monday and December 25. Each tour lasts six hours (plus lunch). We regret that we cannot guarantee the chronological order of your day in advance. Prices include private car transfers as described, entrance tickets to the Coliseum & Forum, and personal tour guide. Entrance tickets to the Empire Museum & Catacombs are an extra 16 Euro/person (12 Euro/person for children) and paid for in cash on site.  Meals are not included. Children under 6 years old are free of charge.  Students between the ages of 6-16 receive a 4 Euro/person discount on entrance tickets. Available in English and Spanish.

2016 Prices for the Full-Day Tour
1 person 656.00 Euro/group
2 people 675.00 Euro/group
3 people 693.00 Euro/group
4 people 753.00 Euro/group
5 people 772.00 Euro/group
6 people 831.00 Euro/group
7 people 850.00 Euro/group



Half-Day Catacombs & San Clemente

Your guide, a longtime Rome resident, will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and travel with you by private car to the ancient Appian Way. This was once the most important road in the world, and still today it maintains a feeling of faded glory. You'll see where the original marble pavers have been scarred by centuries of chariot wheels; you'll walk past the tombs of the Imperial families; you'll spot ancient road signs that have survived for two millennia. Because there is no traffic on this road, and it is surrounded by quiet Roman countryside (and the estates of a few Roman millionaires!), you can really imagine how it may have been when Spartacus led thousands of uprising slaves along its length so many years ago.

 


Y
ou'll also visit the most important and interesting Roman catacomb. You'll be allowed to enter on your own, without a group, and once inside your guide will distribute flashlights as you descend into the dark tunnels where clandestine Christians worshipped and were buried. You'll see the loculi where their sheet-wrapped bodies were laid to rest, and you'll learn to decipher the secret symbols that only Christians understood.

 

Once again above ground, your driver will take you back to the historic center to discover one of the ancient city's most fascinating secrets: the church of San Clemente. This treasure trove is overlooked by most tourists, yet it is appealing for all visitors - from the most learned scholars down to kindergarten students - because its three layers include an incredibly ornate basilica, a spartan 4th-century church, and a 1st-century Roman house where Christians met secretly and pagan rituals were performed. At the very lowest level, most of which was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome identified with Nero, you can even see an underground river flowing beneath your feet!

This tour lasts three hours. Prices include private car and driver and personal tour guide. Entrance tickets, 16 Euro/person for adults and 12 Euro/person for children, are extra and paid for in cash on site.  Meals are not included.  Children under 6 years old are free of charge.  Students between the ages of 6-16 receive a 4 Euro/person discount on entrance tickets. Available in English and Spanish.

2016 Prices for the Half-Day Tour
1 person 381.00 Euro/group
2 people 381.00 Euro/group
3 people 381.00 Euro/group
4 people 422.00 Euro/group
5 people 422.00 Euro/group
6 people 463.00 Euro/group
7 people 463.00 Euro/group

If your group is larger, please ask us for prices.

Our Vatican tours are also perfect for introducing young children to history and art.

Click here for more information about San Clemente.