- Explore the world-famous Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
- Discover ancient legends and Rome's darker side at the Colosseum
- Soak in the tradition and culture as you tour the Rome's top cultural sites
- Learn to make (and eat!) a typical Italian meal
|Day 1||Arrive in Rome||Rome|
|Day 2||Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica||Rome|
|Day 3||Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum||Rome|
|Day 4||Cooking Class in Rome||Rome|
|Day 5||Half-Day Wine Tasting Experience from Rome||Rome|
|Day 6||Galleria Borghese - Free Afternoon in Rome||Rome|
|Day 7||Depart Rome|
Day 1: Arrive in Rome
Welcome to Rome, known as the City of the Seven Hills! According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE atop Palatine Hill. As the long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, you'll find nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture throughout the city.
After arriving at one of Rome's airports, you'll transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Settle in and relax, then head out for a stroll and your first look at the Eternal City. The next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, so spend your first few hours enjoying some of the highlights. Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Catacombs of Priscilla, which were originally used from the 2nd to 5th centuries as burial grounds for the elite families of Rome. After the entrance was blocked for centuries to protect against grave robbers, the catacombs were rediscovered in the 16th century. Visitors can see the original structures as well as paintings and artifacts from various time periods.
- Stroll through the tangle of narrow streets in Centro Storico, one of Rome's most historic districts, to see classical Roman and baroque architecture.
- Stop to see the Colonna di Marco Aurelio, a Doric column with a spiral of relief sculptures. It was erected in the 2nd century C.E. to celebrate the victories of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Head to the Colle Aventino, one of Rome's famous seven hills. Stroll through the Roseto Comunale, the rose garden which sits on the site of a former Jewish cemetery. Then continue to Parco Savello (Orange Tree Park), where you can find the famous keyhole that gives visitors a direct view of the Vatican. Grab a cappuccino and snack from one of the adjacent cafes.
- For an authentic market experience, stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, and cheeses. Browse for authentic Italian pasta and other souvenirs, then take a break with coffee and a pastry at one of the many cafes surrounding the market.
For dinner, head to the Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.
Day 2: Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
Today you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights in a 3-hour guided tour of the city's incredible art and history. The Vatican is not only rich in history, but also in art, housing some of the most important Renaissance masterpieces in the world. You'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, plus the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps.
Continue through the museums to the Raphael Rooms, where you can admire the frescoes before entering the incredible Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Your guide will help you experience the allure of Renaissance art by divulging secret details and untold stories throughout the tour.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Stroll through the tangle of narrow streets in Centro Storico, one of Rome's most historic districts, to see classical Roman and baroque architecture. For an authentic market experience, stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, and cheeses. Browse for authentic Italian pasta and other souvenirs, then take a break with coffee and a pastry at one of the many cafes surrounding the market.
Day 3: Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum
Dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater. Learn about the lives of some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum.
Continue to the Roman Forum, where you'll see excavations dating back 2,000 years which reveal the ruins of temples, squares, religious sites, and other buildings. These were the venues for public speeches, processions, elections, and, of course, gladiator matches. Historians and archeologists refer to the Roman Forum as the most celebrated place in world history, and you'll see why as you admire its grounds.
Cut through the Roman Forum along Via Sacra, where you'll pass by the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. Also here is the Basilica Julia and Aemilia, a public meeting house that was commissioned by Julius Caesar.
Your tour of ancient Rome ends 131 feet (40 meters) above the city at Palatine Hill. From here you'll have incredible views of the city, with the Forum on one side, Circus Maximus on the other, and the Vatican in the distance. In between, the River Tiber snakes through Rome's historic neighborhoods.
In the evening, you'll have free time to continue exploring Rome. Grab dinner in one of the city's other neighborhoods, such as bohemian Monti or upscale Prati, which is brimming with art nouveau architecture.
Day 4: Cooking Class in Rome
There's no better way to get to the heart of Italian culture than through its food. And there's no better way to get to the heart of its food than via a cooking class. This gastronomic odyssey involves learning to prepare authentic Roman cuisine under the tutelage of a local.
You will be welcomed into a beautiful local home, ideally situated to end your day with some delicious home-cooked food! Join your host in their kitchen and learn to make traditional Italian food in a hands-on cooking class followed by the meal that will last about 3 hours. Your host will give you a brief introduction to Roman food and culinary traditions and each dish you are preparing before you start your cooking class. After the class you will move to the dining room to feast on your delicious Italian meal!
Day 5: Half-Day Wine Tasting Experience from Rome
Today, head outside of Rome for a local wine tasting experience in the nearby town of Frascati. Known for its wines since ancient times, Frascati can easily be reached on a 25-minute train ride from Rome. Take the morning to learn about the history of the town and the local products it's known for. You'll feel the sense of community as your local guide takes you around and interacts with the local shop owners and artisans.
From here, you'll continue on to a beautiful vineyard and 16th-century winery. You'll learn about the traditional winemaking techniques that have been passed along for generations and kept alive today, incorporated into the production of the wine today. Try local wines, accompanied by local products to sample, all while relaxing and enjoying the beautiful setting away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Rome.
After your visit to the winery, you'll head back into town for a delicious meal at a local Osteria, where no doubt you'll be able to pair your favorite wine from the tasting. Head back to Rome by train and take the rest of the afternoon to explore the city.
Day 6: Galleria Borghese - Free Afternoon in Rome
Today is a free day to explore the city. Head to Galleria Borghese, one of the world's premier art museums, for a self-guided visit to see works by extraordinary artists Bernini, Caravaggio, Canova, and Rafaello. The gallery's highlights include sculptures and paintings from Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection (1579 - 1633).
Admire Caravaggio's most important paintings, including "Boy with Basket of Fruit", and see Bernini and Canova's sculpture collection, boasting works such as "Apollo and Daphne" and "David". Rafaello's "Entombment of Christ" is also a must-see.
Walk through the ornate rooms and explore the splendid frescoes, stories, and masterful techniques behind the masterpieces. End the tour with a peaceful stroll around the Villa Borghese gardens, enjoying its beauty and calm far from the chaos of the city. Please note that although this is a self-guided tour, a guided option is also available.
Other suggested activities include:
- Visit the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo history museum.
- Tour the Renaissance Villa Farnesina in the Trastevere district.
- Go for a stroll in the buzzing Monti neighborhood, an eclectic area in the city center full of hip wine bars and trendy boutiques.
- Head out of the city for a day at the Ostia beach for miles of sand and warm sea.
- Visit the historic and fascinating neighborhood of Testaccio to see the giant Monte Testaccio, an ancient pile of discarded olive oil jars from the 2nd century CE.
- Spend an afternoon at the Musei Capitolini, the oldest and one of the best museums in Italy.
Day 7: Depart Rome
Time to say goodbye to Italy—for now! After one last Roman breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!