(Please click on image to see more photos of Rome courtesy of RomeCabs)
Our drive will continue along Ostiense Road
, arriving at the Pyramid
built for Caius Cestio
. Due to its incorporation into the city's fortifications, it is one of the most well preserved ancient buildings in Rome today. The pyramid was built about 18 BC-12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo
, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum
The pyramid was made of brick layered over concrete and then covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation. The pyramid measures 100 Roman feet
(22 m) square at the base and stands 125 Roman feet
(27 m) high.
At the time of its construction, the Pyramid of Cestius
would have stood by itself out in the open since tombs were forbidden within the city walls. During the Imperial Period, Rome experienced phenomenal growth and by the third century AD, the pyramid would have been surrounded by buildings. Its true provenance was clarified by Pope Alexander VII
's excavations in the 1660s, which cleared the vegetation that had overgrown the pyramid, uncovered the inscriptions on its faces, tunneled into the tomb's burial chamber and found the bases of two bronze statues that had stood alongside the pyramid.
The pyramid was an essential sight for many who undertook the Grand Tour
in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was much admired by architects, becoming the primary model for pyramids built in the west during this period.
(Please click on image to see more photos of Cirus Maximus courtesy of RomeCabs)
At this stage of the tour, we will be inside the ancient Roman Wall
built by Emperor Aureliano
. For our next stop, we will arrive at the Circus Maximus
, the large ancient stadium where chariot races were held for the pleasure of Roman citizens and royalty. Listen closely and you can almost hear the roar of the crowds and the galloping of the horses’ hooves as they race for the finish.
Majestically sitting behind the stadium, you will see the Palatine Hill
where the villas and the domus’ of the emperors were built. A domus
was a spacious house that wealthy and some middle class families owned in ancient Rome and could be found in almost all of the major cities of the Roman Empire.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Colosseum)
Your tour will continue to the Colosseum
, the world's most impressive ancient amphitheater and the proud symbol of Rome itself. As you step inside this imposing ancient structure allow your imagination to explore what the Colosseum was like in its full glory: more than 50,000 roaring spectators appearing like confetti as they filled the seats around the arena where gladiatorial battles, animal hunts, public executions, theatrical plays, and many other forms of entertainment unaimaginable in modern society took place for the public's enjoyment.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Roman Forum)
Your next stop in Rome's historic center will be Capitoline Hill
where you will be treated to a panoramic splendor sweeping across the Roman Forum
and Palatine Hill
from a terrace known for the most picturesque view. It is incredible to imagine that the vast remains of temples and public buildings in the Roman Forum were once part of the most important center of the Roman Empire as it served as its political, legal, financial and religious nucleus.
(Please click on image to see more photos of Rome courtesy of RomeCabs)
On this tour you will also have the opportunity to see the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
that was dedicated to the first king of Italy. The monument is built of pure white marble from Botticino, Brescia, and features majestic stairways, tall Corinthian columns, fountains, a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas
(a chariot drawn by four horses abreast). The structure is 135 meters (443 ft) wide
and 70 meters (230 ft) high
. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is 81 meters (266 ft) The base of the monument houses the museum of Italian Reunification
At the time the monument was built, it was controversial among Romans since a large area of the Capitoline Hill
was destroyed along with a medieval neighborhood for the sake of building it. Romans regard the monument as pompous and too large. It is clearly visible to most of the city of Rome and is boxy in general shape and lacks a dome or a tower. The monument is also blindingly white, making it highly conspicuous as it sits among the ochre buildings surrounding it. Its stacked, crowded appearance has caused it to be saddled with several nicknames from "Zuppa Inglese
", "the wedding cake
", and "the dentures
", while Americans liberating Rome in 1944 labeled it "the typewriter
", a nickname also adopted by the locals. Even with all of this criticism, the monument still attracts a large number of visitors, and tourists typically enjoy seeing it.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Pantheon)
Our next destination will be the Pantheon
, once an ancient pagan temple of all Roman gods. Several centuries later it became a Christian church and burial place for Italy's kings and notable artists such as Raphael. It is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings, and perhaps the best preserved building of its age in the world. The Pantheon is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome as well as in continuous use throughout its history.
Since the Renaissance
, the Pantheon
has been used as a tomb. Among those buried there are the painters Raphael
and Annibale Carracci
, the composer Arcangelo Corelli
, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi
. In the 15th century, the Pantheon was adorned with paintings: the best-known is the Annunciation
by Melozzo da Forlì. Architects, like Brunelleschi,
used the Pantheon as inspiration when designing the dome of the Cathedral of Florence
Looking up you will be surprised by the circular hole in the center of the coffered dome. The Oculus
(Latin for ‘eye’) at the top of the dome has always been open to the weather, allowing rain to enter and fall to the floor, where it is carried away through drains.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Trevi Fountain)
We then make our way to the famed Trevi fountain
, the largest Baroque
fountain in the city. Legend has it that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they will be assured a return to Rome. The Trevi fountain was also the setting of the well known movie Three Coins in a Fountain
. Many people, however, are unaware that the "three coins" of Three Coins in the Fountain
were thrown by three different characters. The current interpretation is that two coins will lead to a new romance and three will ensure either a marriage or divorce. Another current version of this legend is that it is lucky to throw three coins with one's right hand over one's left shoulder into the fountain.
The fountain is also the setting for an iconic scene in Federico Fellini's
film La Dolce Vita
. Approximately 3,000 Euros
are thrown into the fountain each day and are collected at night. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome's needy.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Spanish Steps)
Finally, you can rest and have a seat on the Spanish Steps
where you might be tempted to enjoy a scoop of gelato, or two or three while relaxing on the famous 18th century winding steps that connect the square below to the French church of Trinita dei Monti
above. The Obelisk Sallustiano
, erected in 1789, is a smaller version copy of the large Egyptian obelisk belonging to Pharaoh Ramse
s II that is the centerpiece of Piazza del Popolo
Below is the early 1600’s Baroque fountain, “Fontanna della Barcaccio”
, or “The Fountain of the Old Boat”
, a type of shallow boat popular for carrying wine to the port of Ripetta
. The unique fountain is credited to Pietro Bernini
, the father of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini
As you begin to climb the Spanish Steps, the corner building on your right is the house where the famous English poet John Keats
lived and died in 1821. The name Spanish Steps was given after the Spanish Embassy that was permanently located there in 1647, and it later became the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.
By now you are probably ready for a time of rest, relaxation and the wonderful food that Italy is known for.
(Please click on image to see more photos of the Vatican Museums)
After lunch, you will visit the smallest country in the world, the Vatican
. Your first visit will be the Vatican Museums
where you will be amazed and delighted at the vast collection of masterpieces, including the impressive Raphael Rooms
and Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel
ceiling frescoes. The Vatican Museums boast many of the world's most priceless paintings, sculptures, mosaics, tapestries and frescoes.
The Vatican Museums
is one of the three largest museums in the world
with a labyrinth of galleries and halls that can be very confusing. Please notify us in advance if you prefer a private tour guide because during peak travel season they get booked quickly.
(Please click on image to see more photos of St Peter's Basilica)
Afterward your visit to the Sistine Chapel you will visit St Peter's Basilica
, the largest church in Christendom that is equally impressive in its archtecture and works of art. From Michelangelo's
and the Dome of St Peter's Basilica to Bernini's
bronze baldacchino above the altar, you will be both inspired and awestruck by this holy church.
It will take two hours
to visit the Museum, The Sistine Chape
l and St. Peter’s Basilica
. Most visitors to the Vatican Museums
choose to visit the Raphael Rooms
and the Sistine Chapel
, the more popular areas in the museum.
After your visit to the Vatican your driver will take you back to your hotel or ship in Civitavecchia.
Thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours
for your tours and shore excursions. We look forward to seeing you in Rome soon!