Rome: Portrait of a City 2019

Status: limited

28 Oct – 9 Nov 2019


Rome: Portrait of a City 2019
Tour Highlights

  • Join Emeritus Professor Bernard Hoffert in Rome on a program that explores the enduring yet ever-changing nature of this extraordinary city.
  • In Tarquinia, north of Rome, discover the exquisite beauty of Etruscan wall painting at the UNESCO site of the Necropoli dei Monterozzi and view fine Etruscan sculpture at the Villa Giulia.
  • Marvel at the extraordinary ancient Roman architectural and engineering feats like the Pantheon and the revolutionary Roman documentary realism in the sculpture of Augustus’ Ara Pacis Augustae.
  • Admire the glistening Early Christian and medieval mosaics that convey a sense of a transcendent world in churches such as Santa Prassede, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Clemente and Santa Maria in Trastevere.
  • View Michelangelo’s awesome God of Creation on the Sistine Ceiling and his terrifying Just Christ of the Last Judgement, as well as Raphael’s superb frescoes in the Vatican Stanze and the Villa Farnesina.
  • Outside Rome, wander through the exquisite pentagonal Villa Farnese at Caprarola with its extensive park adorned with fountains, walled gardens and a casino; and explore the garden masterpiece of the Renaissance, Vignola’s Villa Lante at Bagnaia.
  • Contemplate Caravaggio’s portrayal of deep spiritual awakening in his St Matthew cycle in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, and his Crucifixion of Saint Peter and Conversion of St Paul at Santa Maria del Popolo, and witness the revolutionary illusionism and high drama of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptures at the Villa Borghese.
  • Explore Vignola’s, Bernini’s, and Longhena’s merging of architecture, painting and sculpture, which transformed Baroque churches into ‘theatres of faith’ designed to assert the dogma of Counter-Reformation Catholicism.
  • Gauge the appeal of the ‘eternal’ city to writers like Goethe, Gibbon, Keats and Shelley at Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery, and Goethe’s and Keats’s house museums.
  • In the National Gallery of Modern Art, discover the works of Futurist painters like Balla, Boccioni, and Russolo Severini, made in an age when Rome competed with Paris as a centre of modernist creation.
  • Encounter the ultra-modernity of Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) and Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica that reflect the city’s embracement of new artistic ideas.
  • Visit Cinecittà film studio and learn how Italian directors like Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti changed the direction of world cinema in their classic films.
  • Savour the culinary delights of the city at restaurants like chef Fulvio Pierangelini’s famous Le Jardin de Russie.

13-day Cultural Tour of Rome

Based at 3-star Albergo Santa Chiara, located 200m from the Pantheon


In this program, Emeritus Professor Bernard Hoffert shares with you his love of and profound empathy for Rome and its enduring yet changeful nature. We shall explore the progress of Rome’s urban culture from Etruscan antiquity to the present, through a feast of architecture, painting, sculpture, film and music that has contributed fundamentally to our understanding of what ‘civilisation’ and a city is and should be.

Rome is often called the ‘eternal’ city, evoking a sense of everlasting, abiding, immortal, immutable and timeless permanence, a sentiment expressed by myriad writers, artists, architects and musicians drawn here to learn from the grandeur of antiquity and the masterpieces of its revival – the Renaissance. But it is the genius of Rome that whilst the city often stood for perseverance and decay, it also nurtured an extraordinary cultural dynamism.

Throughout this tour we will explore the exquisite art of the Romans’ precursors, the Etruscans, and trace the Romans’ architectural vocabulary – of domes, columns, capitals, pilasters, friezes – over two millennia of diverse manifestations, in Renaissance, Baroque and neoclassical masterpieces. We will trace Rome’s sculptural tradition from the antique descriptive realism of Augustus’ Ara Pacis Augustae to Michelangelo’s sublime power and Bernini’s energetic Baroque illusionism. We will investigate Roman artists’ diverse efforts to convey the spiritual visually in this, the centre of Catholic Christendom, in glistening medieval mosaics, Michelangelo’s masterful painting and sculpture, Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro masterpieces and vast, heavenly vistas painted upon the vaults of ‘theatrical’ Baroque churches. Outside the city, we visit two fine villas, the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and Vignola’s garden masterpiece, the Villa Lante, Bagnaia.

Rome is not, however, just about the past; we view the works of important early modernist painters like Balla, Boccioni and Russolo Severini, whose spirit inspired the important Italian painting revival of the 1980s. Likewise, we will experience the Rome of ultra-modernity, in Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) and Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica.



The following itinerary describes a range of museums, palaces, churches, gardens and other sites which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight schedules etc. Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B= breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.

Rome - 12 nights

Day 1: Monday 28 October, Arrive Rome
  • Introductory meeting
  • Introductory walk: the Pantheon and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
  • Welcome Drinks at Albergo Santa Chiara

Group members arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to our Rome hotel by private coach. If you are not taking this flight, please meet the group at Albergo Santa Chiara. This evening there will be an introductory meeting, followed by a walk to the nearby Pantheon and Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. We shall return to the hotel for welcome drinks. (Overnight Rome)

Day 2: Tuesday 29 October, Rome
  • Morning walking tour, incl. Sant’ Ignazio, Chiesa del Gesù, Sant’ Agostino, San Luigi dei Francesi & Piazza Navona
  • Ara Pacis Augustae & Mausoleum of Augustus
  • Church of Santa Maria del Popolo: works by Raphael & Caravaggio
  • Welcome Dinner

Today we walk through what was ancient Rome’s Campus Martius to the banks of the Tiber and on to the northern gate of Rome at Piazza del Popolo. We first visit the Piazza Sant’Ignazio, dominated by the Jesuits’ great Baroque church, S. Ignazio (1626 and 1650). Its interior is sumptuously decorated with marble, gilt, stucco and is renowned for Andrea Pozzo’s illusionistic frescoed ceiling, which depicts the Apotheosis of S. Ignatius Loyola. The extraordinary painted illusionistic architecture breaks visually through the actual ceiling to create a towering, almost infinite space. Dogged from the start by lack of funds, the Jesuits could not afford a dome. Its illusionistic painted dome at the crossing is particularly extraordinary. Opposite the church is a wonderful group of 18th-century buildings that are arranged like a stage set.

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta’s church of Il Gesù (1568-1584) was the mother church of the Jesuits. Il Gesù’s revolutionary plan, with its a wide, open nave that facilitated preaching, flanked by individual chapels that allowed for private devotion, fulfilled two essential requirements of the Counter-Reformation, which aimed to propagate Catholic belief and encourage private devotion. The nave leads to a grand, domed crossing echoing the plan of a Renaissance centrally planned church. Il Gesù’s sumptuous illusionistic decoration that melds painting, sculpture and architecture creates a kind of ‘theatre of faith’ designed to impress and inculcate faith.

We next visit the church of Sant’ Agostino to view Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto, which caused great controversy when it was first seen by the public; Caravaggio represented the Virgin Mary barefoot like the scruffy pilgrims to whom she is appearing. We walk to Piazza di San Luigi dei Francesi, on one corner of which is the Palazzo Madama, the palace of Cardinal del Monte who commissioned Caravaggio’s Concert, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller. Next to the Palazzo Madama is the church of S. Luigi dei Francesi, the church of the French community in Rome. The church’s Contarelli Chapel has Caravaggio’s first great religious commission, the St Matthew cycle, made up of three enigmatic masterpieces, the Calling of St Matthew, the Martyrdom of St Matthew and Inspiration of St Matthew.

Piazza Navona is essentially theatrical in conception; it is an open-air stage incorporating the Four Rivers Fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (and subsidiary fountains) set against the back drop of Borromini’s Sant’ Agnese in Agone (begun 1562). The church’s name derives from the fact that the piazza occupies the plan of the Roman Agonale Circus, hence its one curved end.

There will be time at leisure in the Piazza to allow you to buy your lunch at one of the many surrounding cafés. We shall then walk to the Ara Pacis Augustae on the banks of the Tiber. This ‘Altar of Augustan Peace’, the focus of Roman civic religion, celebrated the peace brought about by Octavian (Augustus) after 50 years of civil wars between leaders such as Julius Caesar, Pompey, Brutus and Casius, and Marc Antony. The altar itself is surrounded by an enclosure whose outer walls carry sculptures in the Roman ‘realistic’ style. At the east and west ends are historical scenes and allegories, and along the north and south sides a marvellous procession, probably that associated with the altar’s dedication, depicting members of the Augustan court with such extraordinary realism that it is easy to identify individual portraits.

Nearby, we shall see the Mausoleum of Augustus. Like the original Mausoleum of Hadrian, now Castel Sant’ Angelo, this is a circular structure, typical of Roman shrines of this nature. We next walk to the northern gate of Rome, Porta del Popolo, its lovely Piazza del Popolo, and the marvellous church S. Maria del Popolo. This church, dating from the 15th century, has three of the most important chapels in Rome. The first is the Chigi chapel, designed by Raphael for the Papal banker, Agostino Chigi, with sculptures added by Bernini in the 17th century. Second is the Cerasi chapel, where Annibale Carracci, who painted the altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin, competed with Caravaggio, who painted the lateral picture of the Conversion of St Paul and the Crucifixion of St Peter. The third is the Cybo chapel, designed by Bernini’s pupil Carlo Fontana with a major altarpiece by Carlo Maratta. The nave of the church was remodelled by Bernini in the 17th century; there are also lovely paintings by the 15th-century painter Pinturicchio.

This evening we shall enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Rome) BD

Day 3: Wednesday 30 October, Rome
  • Roman Forum & Santa Maria Antiqua
  • Palatine Hill & Ancient Houses
  • Vatican Museums

This morning we walk to the Forum Romanum, the civic, political and religious heart of Ancient Rome, set in what was originally marshland between the Capitoline, Velian, Palatine and Esquiline hills. We shall view the monumental triumphal arches of Titus and of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestal Virgins, the Basilica Julia, Basilica Aemilia, the Curia Julia and the podium from which leaders of Republican and Imperial Rome delivered speeches to the masses. We have also requested special permission to visit Santa Maria Antiqua, the oldest Christian monument in the Forum. The church’s interior has many early medieval frescoes of varying styles dating the from the 6th to the 9th century.

We also visit the adjoining Palatine Hill where the ruins of the palace of Roman emperors are now open after a long period of restoration.

After a light group lunch we drive to the magnificent Vatican Museums. Two of the wonderful masterpieces of the museum are Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican Stanze and the Sistine Chapel. The four grand Stanze were originally designed as a reception area for Pope Julius II, who commissioned the young Raphael, recently arrived from Urbino, to create his vast frescoes. Of special note is the Stanza della Segnatura with the magnificent School of Athens, the Cardinal and Theological Virtues, the Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, and The Parnassus. The Sistine chapel was first decorated by 15th-century artists from Florence who painted the cycle of the Life of Christ. Michelangelo was then commissioned to paint the great ceiling frescoes depicting Genesis, and later, his inimitable Last Judgement. (Overnight Rome) BL

Day 4: Thursday 31 October, Rome – Ostia – Tarquinia – Rome
  • Ostia Antica
  • Tarquinia: Etruscan Necropolis

This morning we drive to the large archaeological site of Ostia Antica, the port of ancient Rome. The site has a fine theatre, but of particular interest are the large apartment blocks (insulae) that housed most of the urban population of ancient Rome, including ordinary people of lower- or middle-class status (plebs) and even all but the wealthiest from the upper-middle class (equites). The city itself once had many of these filthy, disease ridden, overcrowded deathtraps that were particularly prone to fires. A visit to Ostia therefore gives a vivid idea of the way in which most Romans lived.

We shall eat a group lunch in Ostia before driving north to Tarquinia, where we shall visit the Etruscan Necropolis. The main necropolis of Tarquinia is the Monterozzi Necropolis made up of some 6000 tombs, at least 200 of which have wall paintings of a quality virtually unrivalled elsewhere in the Etruscan world; these colourful images present a vivid, rarely documented, picture of the world of the Etruscans. Scenes include banquets with dances and music, sporting events, and occasional erotic and mythical scenes. Some of the later images depict demons leading the dead, including people of high status, to the netherworld. Famous tombs include the Tomb of the Bulls, Tomb of the Augurs and the Tomb of the Leopards.

If time permits we shall visit the Tarquinia National Museum, whose collection consists primarily of the artefacts which were excavated from the Necropolis of Monterozzi. It is housed in the Palazzo Vitelleschi, built between 1436 and 1439 for the cardinal of Corneto; Corneto was the former name of Tarquinia. (Overnight Rome) BL

Day 5: Friday 1 November, Rome
  • Basilica di San Clemente
  • Basilica di Santa Prassede
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Church of St John Lateran
  • Churches of Sant’Agnese & Santa Costanza
  • Catacomb of Sant’Agnese

We first drive to San Clemente, one of Rome’s most fascinating churches. The complex exists on a number different levels. The present church has a beautiful apse mosaic depicting Christ crucified at the centre of a field of vines all set against a lustrous gold background. The church has a medieval ambo and frescoes by Masaccio’s associate, Masolino. Beneath the present medieval basilica (c.1100), is a 4th-century basilica that had been converted from the home of a Roman nobleman. This church was decorated with 11th-century frescoes of the life of S. Clement. The church, however, was filled with rubble when the present church was built above it. Yet another, even older, level exists beneath the 4th-century church. Here, at the level of ancient Rome, there are a narrow, paved street and the remains of a house that was used for secretive Christian worship before Constantine promulgated the Edict of Milan in 313. There is also a sanctuary for the cult of the pagan (Zoroastrian) god Mithras with an altar, and a warehouse from the Republican era. Perhaps most fascinating of all is the aqueduct that runs along one end of the excavated area that still carries water.

After a short break for coffee, we drive to Santa Prassede, a 9th-century basilica with lovely Byzantine mosaics. The church is dedicated to St Praxedes, who hid Christians fleeing persecution and buried those she couldn’t save in a well. The location of the well is now marked by a marble disc on the floor of the nave.

We walk to the great papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, built in the 5th century on the location of a miraculous fall of snow. Its nave, triumphal arch and apse dome are adorned with mosaics. Those of the nave are very early, being from the 5th century. The apse mosaic is by Jacopo Torriti. The conch of the apse is dominated by a grand Coronation of the Virgin (c.1296). There are also panels depicting the Life of the Virgin.

After lunchtime at leisure, we drive to the great extra-mural Basilica of Saint John Lateran. Although St Peter’s is arguably more famous as a centre of Catholicism, this great church, with its very early baptistry is, in fact, both the earliest and highest ranking of Catholic Christendom. Built during the reign of Constantine the Great, it was modified by the great Baroque architect, Francesco Borromini.

Finally, we drive out along the Via Nomentana, which begins at Michelangelo’s Porta Pia to a lovely complex of Early Christian churches, Sant’ Agnese and Santa Costanza.

Fourth-century Santa Costanza is a well-preserved circular building with a central area surrounded by a circular ambulatory. In its ambulatory vaults are magnificent 4th-century mosaics that preserve much of the quality of earlier pagan work as they resemble the decoration of secular palaces; there are panels containing geometric patterns, small heads or figures within compartmented frames, birds with branches of foliage, vases and other objects, and vine patterns with cherubs harvesting and wine-making. Santa Costanza was built adjacent to a vast 4th century horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins. This was the cemetery basilica of Saint Agnes; both shrines were constructed over earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried. Santa Costanza was once believed to have been built under Constantine I as a prospective mausoleum for his daughter Costanza, who died in 354. Recent excavations, however, suggest that the Emperor Julian (r. 361-363) built the mausoleum for his wife, Helena (died 360 AD), herself also a daughter of Constantine.

The nearby seventh-century Church of St Agnes, that took the place of the decaying cemetery church, was built over what was believed to be the tomb of the saint. Its apse mosaic has a gold ground. A central figure of Agnes in the costume of a Byzantine empress is flanked by the church’s patron, Pope Honorius I, who offers a model of the building, and another unidentified pope. Sant’ Agnese has a separate upper gallery for women (matronaeum). We shall visit the catacombs beneath the church. (Overnight Rome) B

Day 6: Saturday 2 November, Rome
  • Villa Giulia: National Museum of Etruscan Art
  • National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Group Lunch at Caffè dell’Arte
  • MAXXI Museum
  • Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica

Our first visit today is to Pope Julius III’s Villa Giulia (1551-1553), which houses the National Museum of Etruscan Art. This museum was founded in 1889 in order to bring together all the pre-Roman Etruscan and Faliscan antiquities of the regions Latium, southern Etruria and Umbria. The highlight of this great collection is a terracotta funerary monument, the Sarcofago degli Sposi (Sarcophagus of the Spouses), featuring a life-size bride and groom reclining together as if at a dinner party.

The rest of the day is dedicated to Italian art of the 20th and 21st centuries, with visits to the National Museum of Modern Art and the revolutionary new museum, MAXXI. We first drive to the Palazzo delle Belle Arti (Palace of Fine Arts). We shall explore this, the largest collection of modern art in Italy. Among the Italian artists represented are Antonio Canova, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Alberto Burri, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Amedeo Modigliani, Giacomo Manzù, Vittorio Matteo Corcos, and Giorgio Morandi. We shall pay special attention to the works of the Futurists (Balla, Boccioni and others) and the Surrealism of de Chirico; both influenced deeply the direction of international modernism.

We shall break for lunch at the Caffè delle Arti near the Gallery, and then drive to MAXXI. ‘MAXXI’ stands for Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (National Museum of 21st-Century Arts). The revolutionary, award winning building was designed as a multidisciplinary space by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and built between 2000 and 2010. It is dedicated to experimentation and innovation in the arts and architecture.

The building is composed of bending oblong tubes that overlap, intersect and tumble over each other. The MAXXI consists of two museums: ‘MAXXI art’ and ‘MAXXI architecture’. It also has an auditorium, a library and a media library specialising in art and architecture, and galleries for temporary exhibitions, performances and educational activities. The large public square in front of the museum hosts art works and live events. After exploring the Museum, we shall walk to the nearby Parco della Musica to take a tour of revolutionary architect Renzo Piano’s great auditorium and music complex. (Overnight Rome) BL

Day 7: Sunday 3 November, Rome
  • Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria
  • Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
  • Museo Nazionale Palazzo Massimo
  • Tiber Walking Tour, including S. Maria in Cosmedin, Tiber Island and the Republican Temples
  • Performance of Mozart’s Requiem by the Rome Symphony Orchestra in the Church of St Pauls Within the Wall

Our first visit today is to S. Maria della Vittoria (1620), Carlo Maderno’s early Baroque church. The interior is a fine example of the Baroque melding of architecture, sculpture and painting to create a ‘theatre of faith’ designed to inculcate Counter Reformation dogma and piety. The masterpiece of the church is the Cornaro Chapel by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, housing perhaps the sculptor’s greatest masterpiece The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. The marble sculpture depicts an episode in the life of the Spanish saint, Theresa of Avila, who recounted a vision she had when an angel appeared and pierced her heart with a golden shaft, causing her both pleasure and pain. Theresa was a wonderful exponent of the Castilian language, describing her visions in a marvellously apt, direct, simple language. Bernini’s dramatic sculpture perfectly captures her vision. He has abandoned the traditional restraint in the representation of saints. Theresa, engulfed in a mass of billowing drapery, throws back her head in a manner both sensuous and voluptuous.

We next visit the monumental Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and the Christian Martyrs (1562). Located on the site of the Baths of Diocletian (298-306 AD), Michelangelo converted the great frigidarium (cold bath) into the great church.

We shall visit the National Museum which is located in the Palazzo Massimo. This great archaeological museum has a marvellous collection of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, as well as stuccoes taken from the Golden House of Nero. On the second floor are frescoes from the villa of Livia, wife of Augustus, at Prima Porta on the Via Flaminia. The frescoes, discovered in 1863 and dating back to the 1st century BC, show a luscious garden with ornamental plants and pomegranate trees.

After lunch, we cross the city to the banks of the Tiber River, where we will take a gentle stroll to explore some of its treasures. The medieval Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin has many fine architectural features, although perhaps it is most famous for the ‘Bocca della Verità’ which featured in the classic film Roman Holiday. We will also explore Tiber Island and the beautifully preserved Republican temples nearby.

This evening we will attend a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor by the Rome Symphony Orchestra in the Church of St Pauls Within the Wall. (Overnight Rome) B

Day 8: Monday 4 November, Rome
  • Villa Farnesina
  • Walking tour of the Trastevere area, incl. Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Afternoon at Leisure

Today we cross the Tiber to Trastevere, a fascinating neighbourhood with medieval houses in narrow, winding streets that have an almost village-like flavour. Trastevere stood outside the city of Rome until around 270 AD. Located here were the villas of many wealthy Romans like Julius Caesar. Whilst in Trastevere we visit the Villa Farnesina. This charming Renaissance suburban villa was built for Agostino Chigi, Pope Julius II’s treasurer; the villa became the property of the Farnese family in 1577. The fresco decoration within the villa is by Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano and Il Sodoma. Its greatest treasures, however, are Raphael’s loggia frescoes of Cupid and Psyche, and The Triumph of Galatea.

We shall next wander through the old quarter to visit the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of Rome’s earliest Christian foundations. The original 4th-century church was, however, replaced by Pope Innocent II in the 12th century. Incorporated into Innocent’s new church were ancient Roman spolia such as marble columns. The church’s 13th-century apse mosaic depicts the Assumption of the Virgin against a gold background, while other mosaics in the nave and chapels depict scenes from the Life of the Virgin. These works are by Pietro Cavallini, whose style was to influence the genesis of Florentine Renaissance naturalism in the work of Giotto.

This afternoon will be at leisure. (Overnight Rome) B

Day 9: Tuesday 5 November, Rome – Caprarola – Bagnaia – Rome
  • Villa Farnese, Caprarola
  • Villa Lante, Bagnaia

Today is dedicated to two of Italy’s most beautiful villas and their gardens. We first drive out of the city to visit the Villa Farnese at Caprarola. This vast, pentagonal palace, designed by the Mannerist architect Giacomo da Vignola (1507-1573), dominates the adjacent town. Within the palace are magnificent Renaissance / Mannerist frescoes by the brothers Taddeo (1529-1566) and Federico (1540-1609) Zuccari. We shall tour the villa’s summer and winter apartments, including a room with images recounting the history of the Farnese family. The palace loggia offers a spectacular panorama. We shall then visit the villa’s two formal gardens.

We next travel to the town of Bagnaia to visit the beautiful Villa Lante, the country retreat of the Bishop of Viterbo, also designed by Giacomo da Vignola. Villa Lante has arguably the most beautiful Renaissance garden in Italy; it steps down a hill overlooking Bagnaia. Particularly beautiful is the use of water in cascades, fountains and dripping grottoes. Above the exquisite ‘Fountain of the Lights’ is the garden’s most wonderful feature, a long stone table with a channel running its length down which water flows; the flowing water was used for cooling wine. (Overnight Rome) B

Day 10: Wednesday 6 November, Rome
  • Galleria Borghese
  • Palazzo Colonna & Apartments of Princess Isabella – Private tour
  • Afternoon at Leisure

This morning we focus on the great works of two masters of the Italian Baroque at the Galleria Borghese, the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and the painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). Here we can trace the evolution of Bernini’s fascinating sculptural illusionism in his early monumental sculptures such as the Pluto and Proserpine (Hades and Persephone), David and Apollo and Daphne. Bernini was a master of giving inert stone the illusion of living flesh. This gallery also holds Bernini’s Bust of Scipione Borghese and the lesser known The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun. The Galleria Borghese has seven Caravaggios, including his Boy with a Basket of Fruit, S. Jerome and Sick Bacchus. Other masterpieces include Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael’s Entombment of Christ, Correggio’s Danaë, Antonio Canova’s Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix (1804-8) and works by Peter Paul Rubens.

Our second visit for the morning is to the Palazzo Colonna, one of the oldest and grandest palaces in Rome. Founded in the 13th century and much altered in the Baroque period, it is still lived in by the Colonna family. Our visit will include the Galleria Colonna with its impressive art collection and, with special permission, the richly decorated and luxuriously furnished Princess Isabella Apartment.

The afternoon is at leisure to allow you to explore parts of the city that appeal to you personally. (Overnight Rome) B

Day 11: Thursday 7 November, Rome
  • Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome
  • Casa di Goethe
  • Buffet Lunch, Hotel de Russie
  • Keats-Shelley House: Guided tour with the Curator

Today is dedicated to foreign artists and literati who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, were drawn here to study the antique and Renaissance masterpieces of Rome. Many lived in the vicinity of the Spanish Steps, where two of Rome’s most famous house museums are found.

We begin, however, at the other end of the city. Alongside a magnificently preserved antique tomb, the Pyramid of Cestius (30 BC), sits a tranquil cemetery, the final resting place of non-Catholic residents of Rome from the 18th century on; Protestant funeral processions to the cemetery once took place at night to avoid attacks by Rome’s Catholic population. The cemetery has the tombstones of Keats, who died of tuberculosis in 1821, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who drowned off the Italian Riviera in 1822, as well as other notable writers, artists and scholars. Australia’s Martin Boyd, the famous Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, the great German architect, Gottfried Semper, and the English critic, John Addington Symonds, are buried here.

We next cross the city to the Spanish Steps area to visit the Casa di Goethe. Goethe arrived in Rome in October 1786 and stayed there for two years, delighting in the art, history and sunshine of the city. The visit was a personal renaissance for him and greatly influenced his writings. His lodging place is now a museum, the Casa di Goethe, which we will visit.

Following our visit to the Casa di Goethe, we will enjoy lunch at the lovely Hotel de Russie, a glamorous hotel with a stunning garden just beneath the Pincian Hill. The restaurant was popular with 19th- and early 20th century writers and artists like Henry James, Jean Cocteau and Picasso.

After lunch, we visit the Keats-Shelley House. It is here that Keats lived from 1820 until his death in 1821. The museum houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and others. (Overnight Rome) BL

Day 12: Friday 8 November, Rome – Cinecittà – Rome
  • Cinecittà & Federico Fellini Tour
  • Farewell Dinner

Today we drive to Cinecittà, the largest film studio in Europe and the hub of Italian cinema. Founded by Benito Musolini in 1937, the studio led the revival of Italian cinema in the 1950s. A number of 50s and 60s blockbusters were made there, including William Wyler’s Roman Holiday, Robert Wise’s Helen of Troy (1956), Michael Curtiz’ Francis of Assisi (1961), Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ The Barefoot Contessa and Cleopatra (1963), Carol Reed’s The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) and Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968). Later films include Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein, produced by Andy Warhol, (1974). In the 1990s, Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ were made here; Francis Ford Coppola has also worked here.

A number of Italian masterpieces were filmed at the studio. Masters like Visconti made films here, as well as the great Federico Fellini; La Dolce Vita (1960), Satyricon (1969), Roma (1972), Amacord (1973), Casanova (1976) and La Traviata (1982) were all Cinecittà productions. We shall take an official tour that revolves around Fellini’s personality and works. You will be led through the Fellini Building, dedicated to the Maestro, where excerpts of his movies are screened. The visit continues outside, to the sets of Jerusalem and Ancient Rome, up to the entrance of the memorable Teatro 5, Fellini’s favourite soundstage, which can only be visited when not in use by ongoing productions.

There will be time at leisure to eat at Il Caffè di Cinecittà and peruse its bookshop, before we return to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. At 7.00 pm we shall assemble for our farewell dinner. (Overnight Rome) BD

Day 13: Saturday 9 November, Depart Rome
  • Airport transfer to Rome Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino) for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour ends this morning. Participants returning to Australia on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Italy. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B



13-day Cultural Tour of Rome

Albergo Santa Chiara
Via Santa Chiara 21, 00186 Rome, Italy

The Albergo Santa Chiara is a 3-star hotel located in the heart of Rome’s historic centre. It is 200 metres from the Pantheon and is surrounded by restaurants and cafés. Housed within a 19th century building, all of Albergo Santa Chiara’s 96 air-conditioned rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom (incl. hairdryer), minibar, digital LCD TV with a wide selection of foreign-language channels, telephone and safe deposit box.

Hotel facilities include a bar, luggage deposit, and external dry-cleaning service. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. A buffet breakfast is served each day from 7-10.30 am.

Single Superior rooms may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Single Supplement. Single Superior rooms are approximately 11 sq.m. in area and are furnished with a double bed (145cm wide).

How to book

How to Book

Make a Reservation


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a Superior Single room with a double bed throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 13-day Cultural Tour of Rome involves:

  • Exploring Rome and surrounding towns/sites on foot and by air-conditioned coach.
  • Extensive walking (up to 5km per day) and standing during museum and other site visits. Walking tours may include steep slopes, flights of stairs, cobbled streets and uneven ground. Sites visited include gardens and archaeological sites.
  • The use of audio headsets, which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $6670.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 September 2018

AUD $6870.00 Land Content Only

AUD $970.00 Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in a 3-star hotel in the centre of Rome
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour notes
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Rome, Rome-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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