- City: Rome
- Duration: 3hrs
- Start Time: 2PM
Visit the quietest and most impressive of Rome's Catacombs in a small group - so you can hear your guide!
See it for yourself: The eerie 'Bone Chapel', covered in the bones of 4,000 friars.
- Discover just how deep the history of Rome goes at a multi-layered (multi-purpose!) Ancient Roman temple/prison/Basilica.
EXTENDED TOUR DESCRIPTION
VISIT THE BEST, LEAST-VISITED ROME CATACOMBS.
There are miles of ancient Christian Catacombs under Rome but most companies visit the same one. We go the extra distance to visit the best and quietest of the Rome catacombs, the Catacomb of Santa Priscilla. One of Rome's first underground Christian cemeteries (dating back to 150 years before Christianity was legalized), this site has extraordinary ancient frescoes, eerie tunnels and the world's single oldest depiction of the Virgin Mary.
For such a unique and touching experience, we’re not going to hand you off to a guide you don’t know. Instead, our guides are chosen from the elite few who have permission to take you into the depths themselves, so you’ll keep your handpicked Walks of Italy tour guide and your small group of only 15 people or fewer, rather than merging with a group of 20 or 30. Anything bigger, and in the narrow tunnels, you can’t even hear your guide. Forget headsets, they don’t work underground.
WITNESS ROME’S STRANGEST SIGHT – A CRYPT LINED WITH THE BONES OF 4,000 MONKS.
The Roman catacombs are pretty cool but we visit another site that could be even better – the Capuchin bone crypt, a cemetery literally built from bones! The chambers are decorated with the remains of some 4,000 friars. For kids, it’s a fascinating lesson in anatomy and for adults, a moving reminder of what we’ll all become. The message at the end of crypt says it all: “What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will be.” Strangely enough, the monks didn’t intend the site to be a morbid one – but you’ll learn all about that from your expert guide when you visit one of Rome’s most memorable sights.
STEP BACK IN TIME AT OUR ALTERNATE 'LASAGNE CHURCH'
This tour previously visited Basilica San Clemente but, as the crowds grew, the experience diminished. Today we've found a better 'lasagne church' (so-called for their many layers) with few, if any, tourists. Like Basilica San Clemente, our new spot, the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere, is a voyage both below ground and back in time, but this basilica is so much more historically important. It was built in the 10th century on the site of three temples dating back to the first century BC, which themselves were at the heart of an Ancient Roman fruit and vegetable market dating to the 4th century BC. Much of the original temples, including their marble columns, were built into the structure of the existing basilica but left exposed, so when you visit today you can literally descend through the levels of time.
Basilica San Clemente may boasts the opportunity to see a street from the 1st century AD, but in San Nicola in Carcere, your end point is the very center of 4th century BC Rome. To get there, you'll descend through a crypt used in the 12th century for exorcisms, passing stacks of ancient human bone fragments. As you walk your guide will tell you stories from the basilica's own fascinating history, including its stint as a Medieval prison. And best of all, Walks of Italy groups will likely have the place to themselves.
With comfortable, air-conditioned transport throughout, you won’t have to worry about coordinating metros, buses and private transport from one site to the next. On rare occasions, two groups may share a bus but at all the sites, small group sizes of only 15 people or fewer mean you can ask all the questions you can think of (great when traveling with curious kids). Our guides are handpicked not just for their knowledge, but also their enthusiasm and engagement, so they’ll be happy to answer any questions you can throw at them.
Take a walk with us as we peel back the many layers of Rome, uncovering secret stories of Christian persecution, strange religious practices and the multi-layered history of Rome.
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