ROME AND NAPLES' CLASSICAL TOUR
Day 1 - Ancient Rome
Our tour begins with a visit to the Forum, the heart of Ancient Rome. Here we see the Via Sacra and the Palatine Hill, home of the Emperors. We also see Trajan's Forum and Market, a five-storey building built by the emperor and still impressively complete today. Passing by the Arch of Constantine, we visit the Domus Aurea, Nero's Golden House, begun in AD 64. Our tour will include visits to over thirty of the rooms, still with their refined décor and high ceilings. We continue to the Colosseum, and end the day at the beautiful Pantheon. The most complete Roman structure in the city, it is the site of Raphael's tomb.
Day 2 - Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps & the Baths of Diocletian
The Palazzo Massimo and Palazzo Altemps house most of the National Museum of Roman Antiquities, a collection that is second only to that in the Vatican. s, In the first palazzo we can see some of the world's finest frescoes and mosaics, as well as recreations of interiors from two luxurious and decadent villas. The Palazzo Altemps is home to some excellent statues, many of which were once owned by Cardinal Altemps. A highlight is the Galatian Soldier and His Wife Committing Suicide, said to have been commissioned by Julius Caesar. We continue to the Baths of Diocletian, one of the largest baths in ancient Rome and now home to some of the collections of the National Museum of Roman Antiquities.
Day 4 -
We leave the centre of Rome for a day in Tivoli, where we visit the ruins of Hadrian's Villa, the magnificent palace built by the emperor in 118 AD. Later, during the Renaissance, it served as the inspiration for countless villas. Whilst in Tivoli, we cannot miss the lovely Villa d'Este, built in 1550 as a pleasure palace for Cardinal d'Este, with beautiful gardens and terraces looking out over the surrounding countryside.
Day 5 - Rome
A free day for independent sightseeing - perhaps visit St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums - or join the tour lecturer on a walk of discovery through other parts of ancient Rome.
Day 6 - Ostia Antica & Naples
We spend the morning in Ostia Antica, the port that served ancient Rome, now some 3km from the sea. The archaeological site preserves the forum, villas and several temples, including the massive Capitolium, dedicated to Jove, Juno and Minerva. After time for an independent lunch by the sea, we drive south to Naples.
Day 7 - Pompeii & Oplontis
Buried yet preserved by Vesuvius' infamous eruption, Pompeii lay forgotten until 1600. Excavations began in the 18th century, and the painstaking work carried out since then has revealed the Forum, the Roman heart of a town, shops, houses, baths, two theatres and an amphitheatre. The degree of preservation is so great that frescoes and mosaics still adorn the houses.
On the way back to Naples, we visit the excavations at Oplontis, where two Imperial villas have been discovered. Some superbly preserved wall paintings can be seen in these elegant residences.
Day 8 - Archaeological Museum & Herculaneum
Today we visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, one of the world's most important archaeological museums. Artefacts removed from the sites at Herculaneum, Pompeii and other Campanian cities plus Rome can all be seen here, including intricate mosaics, frescoes, statues, weapons and domestic items.
We also visit Herculaneum, buried by the same eruption as Pompeii. Many fine Roman houses can be seen, including the House of the Stags, named for the beautiful sculpture of stags found here, and the House with the Mosaic Atrium, with its geometrically mosaic floor.
Day 9 -
Capri has been a favoured retreat since the Roman times, when the emperors Augustus and Tiberius built villas here. Tiberius' lavish villa can still be seen. Alternatively, soak up the atmosphere in the lively and colourful towns of Capri and Anacapri.
Day 10 Naples/Departure
Leaving Naples, we visit the mediaeval town on La Ninfa before continuing to Rome and the airport.