Day 1 - Thursday, April 18: Flight to Rome
Evening departure from Toronto Pearson International with Air Canada's overnight direct flight to Rome's Fiumicino "Leonardo da Vinci" Airport. Dinner and light breakfast will be served.
Day 2 - Friday, April 19: Arrival in Rome and panoramic coach tour (D)
Upon morning arrival in the Italian capital, we begin our introductory panoramic coach tour of Imperial, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Rome. Sites will include the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums, the Arch of Constantine, St. Peter Basilica, the Piazza Venezia, the Victor Emmanuel Monument. Anticipated early afternoon hotel registration at the Accord Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo, perfectly located in the historical centre of the “Eternal City”, only a few steps from the Colosseum. Time for post flight rest before an introductory walking tour of our first of the Seven Roman Hills...the Esquiline. This neighbourhood also features one of the four principal Basilicas of the city...St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome with its adjacent Lateran Palace. Welcome dinner in-house.
Day 3 - Saturday, April 20: "Imperial Rome: Part 1 (L)
The City of the Caesars is the theme of the day as we explore the Imperial Forums of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero and Trajan; the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums and the Roman Forum (flanked by the 20th Century Monument to King Victor Emmanuel, colloquially known as the “Wedding Cake”!), the Circus Maximus and the triumphal arches dedicated to Constantine, Titus and Septimus Severus. Group lunch in the relaxed atmosphere of a nearby trattoria before walking to yet another of the Seven Hills, the Capitoline, citadel seat of power since earliest times. Now known as the Campidoglio, its top features a magnificent piazza, designed by Michelangelo, surrounded by fine Medieval and Renaissance palaces, one of which houses the Capitoline Museum. We visit this superb site, with treasures such as the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the Capitoline She-wolf bronze, the marble Dying Gaul, and “bits and pieces” of a colossal marble statue of Emperor Constantine, including the head, the right hand, left foot. Remainder of day and evening at leisure. (http://en.museicapitolini.org).
Day 4 - Sunday, April 21: (L)
The morning set aside for individual activities: two of the four great Basilicas - S. Maria Maggiore and S. John Lateran are close by for religious services to any and all; a quick visit to the National Roman Museum in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme - housing one of the world's most important collections of Classical Art, including frescoes, mosaics, coins and word-famous bronze and marble Greek and Roman statues such as the ‘Boxer at Rest’, the ‘Discus Thrower’ and the statue of Augustus as High Priest; or perhaps a cappuccino while appreciating the atmosphere of a Roman Sunday morning. But our afternoon's group theme ‘Piazzas and Fountains - A Focus of Roman Social Life' will begin with lunch in Piazza Navona and its dramatic Fontana dei Fiumi. Then on to the Piazza di Spagna and its unusual Fontana della Baraccia to be followed by the Piazza Venezia, and of course the magnificent baroque Trevi Fountain. Evening at leisure.
Day 5 - Monday, April 22: ‘Christian Rome - Part 1' (D)
The theme today, ‘Christian Rome', takes us by metro to Vatican City for a full tour morning of visits: St. Peter’s Basilica with its huge central altar, papal crypt, treasury, massive dome and Michelangelo’s evocative Pietà. The Vatican Museums, featuring frescoes by Raphael, paintings by Giotto, and antiquities such as the celebrated Hellenistic sculpture, Laocoön. And of course, the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s superb paintings will be an absolute highlight but so too, a climb (or elevator) to the Dome of St. Peter’s for a memorable view of the Eternal City...stunning! Lunch in the Papal State, perhaps on the Via Della Conciliazione, before we follow the Tiber, strolling to S. Pietro in Vincoli. Originally intended to hold a significant Church relic, the chains that bound St. Peter during imprisonment in Rome and Jerusalem, today it is better known for the evocative, powerful majestic statue of Moses, sculpted by Michelangelo, intended for the tomb of Pope Julius ll. This evening, trattoria dinner in the vicinity.
Day 6 - Tuesday, April 23: "Imperial Rome Part 2"
After breakfast an excursion to the little town of Tivoli, situated in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. Visits to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: first, the impressive ruins of Hadrian’s Villa, an elaborate residence built in the 2nd century AD for Emperor Hadrian, connoisseur of architecture and art (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1025); and second, the Villa d’Este and its quixotic terraced gardens (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/907). Afternoon return to Rome and the colourful Campus Martius District where, following lunch, a visit to the Pantheon, Rome’s best preserved ancient temple. Today it serves as the resting place for both the artist Raphael and Victor Emmanuel ll, first King of a unified Italy. Remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 7 - Wednesday, April 24: Personal Option Day
Individual choices are the theme of the day. Our city transit pass will allow flexibility and opportunity " to see and do more"! Several suggestions below but Michael will be available for other alternatives, planning and discussion including a full day excursion to Pompeii and Naples.
• Borghese, Gardens and Galleria.
• Baths of Caracalla & Domus Aurea
• Ostia Antica - the harbour city of ancient Rome at mouth of the River Tiber. An excellent archaeological site, close to the modern town of Ostia.
• Catacombs and the Appian Way (Via Appia) - one of the most famous of all Roman roads, connecting the city to the Adriatic seaport of Brindisi and hence to Greece. The road now features an archaeological zone with ancient tombs, the remains of aqueducts, and various catacombs, including the Catacombs of Callixtus, where numerous martyrs, popes and other early Christians were buried.
• Pompeii and Naples - full day ( approx. 13 hrs.) excursion is available with a reputable local company. Programme offers a morning visit to the world famous Naples National Archeological Museum and its outstanding mosaic, Battle of Alexander and Darius. Afternoon in Pompeii, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Guided tour of the dramatic ruins of this once prosperous Roman town, destroyed by an eruption of the volcano in 79AD. The return route to Rome will pass by the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino, fully restored following its destruction during the Allied invasion of Italy in WW II. Entrance fees and lunch are included in the cost (at this time €140.00). If interested, please advise the office prior to departure.
Day 8 - Thursday, April 25: 'Christian Rome - Part 2"
We begin our day at Castel Sant'Angelo - originally the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, transformed in the course of the centuries into a medieval fortress and a luxuriously decorated residence of Popes. Later, a short walk takes us to Piazza del Popolo and Santa Maria...a church that encompasses the finest masters of Roman Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture; Caravaggio, Bernini, Raphael, Bramante... all here! Lunch alfresco in the lively vibrant open air food market of the Campo dei Fiori; a pause at the unique facades of the Spada and Farnese Palaces before appreciating the magnificent baroque Gesù, principal church of the Jesuit Order. And our route home will take us across the Tiber to Trastevere, once Etruscan but today a vibrant component of Roman life. The Basilica of Santa Maria provides a perfect setting for its magnificent chancel mosiacs. An atmospheric coffee or a white Est! Est! Est! before our hotel return and the evening at leisure.
Day 9 - Friday, April 26: Contingency Day : Options
Contingency Day Opportunities for personal alternative visits; i.e., if Pompeii had been visited on the Wednesday then Florence now becomes available…or vice-versa! Our tour offers flexibility and alternatives following discussion!
Day 10 - Saturday, April 27: Day for personal choices (D)
An opportunity to meet the "whose who" of European masters in the exceptional Galleria Doria Pamphilj. Considered by most to be the best of the private collection galleries in Rome, it offers Rubens, Correggio, Tintoretto, Brueghl, Titian, Bernini et al. The bus pass provides personal opportunities to "mop up" sightseeing but...the proximity of the vias Condotti and del Corso hint strongly of retail therapy and last minute purchases before our evening arrivederci dinner in a typical ristorante!
Day 11 - Sunday, April 28: Return flight
Morning coach transfer to Rome's da Vinci International Airport and the direct return flight to Toronto Pearson. Lunch and snack will be served before afternoon Toronto arrival.