If you have never been to Rome, here is your chance to experience some of the highlights of this marvelous city.
Rome is a city with a continuous history stretching back over at least 2,700 years, and at one time she ruled perhaps the greatest empire the world has ever seen. The tour now concentrates on the Vatican City, the smallest state in the world, with 1,000 citizens all connected with the Church. It mints its own coins, prints its own stamps, and keeps its own army of Swiss Guards. You shall see its most important feature, the pile that dominates Bernini’s gracious square and harmonious colonnade, St. Peter’s Basilica. This great church took well over 100 years to built in the Renaissance and Baroque styles and involved a succession of important artists and architects. Resting on over 800 pillars and littered with 44 altars, St. Peter’s is by far the largest church in the world; indeed, with its sumptuos decoration and gigantic monuments to the popes it appears more like a palace or a museum. Of outstanding interest are Michelangelo’s Pietà, the bronze statue of St. Peter, and Bernini’s baldachin over the High Altar. Here, in the Vatican city you will also visit the Vatican Museum with the 15th century Sistine Chapel, in which are paintings by Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and other great masters, but the Chapel is dominated by the superhuman efforts of the greatest master of all, Michelangelo. His Creation of the World covers the ceiling, and his Last Judgement fills the wall behind the altar. The conception and execution of these works are positively titanic. Lunch with wine will be served at a local restaurant, after which our sightseeing will include passing by such places of interest as the Borghese Park, the Janiculum Hill and the Castel Sant’Angelo, the medieval fortress-palace of the popes. In the Circus Maximum you can try to imagine the four-horsed chariots thundering past under the gaze of a quarter of a million frenzied spectators. The Basilica of St. John in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore, both very early churches often restored and embellished, and the huge Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II near the Capitol Hill. The Roman Forum, hub of the city in Republican and Imperial times, where an “assembly of kings” met in the Senate House to decide the fate of nations. Here too are the remains of temples, law courts, the house of the Vestal Virgins and the rostrum where Mark Antony made his impassioned speech over the body of Julius Caesar. The Trajan Column, with its 2,500 marble figures, is a landmark on the way to the Colosseum. The Arch of Constantine mirrors the glory of the Empire. Following this full and rewarding day you will return to Civitavecchia and the ship. Please note: The new parking restrictions in Rome greatly increase the walking time. There will be a 10 minute walk from the bus drop off area to reach the Vatican City. There will be a further 10 minute walk to rejoin the coach. There are dress code requirements and photography restrictions on this tour, please attend the port briefings for full details. The sightseeing in the city may be altered at the guide’s discretion depending on the traffic, but all places of interest will be seen.