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Rome: The Eternal City

Program Number: 19688RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/18/2014 - 5/26/2014; 4/17/2016 - 4/25/2016; 5/1/2016 - 5/9/2016; 5/8/2016 - 5/16/2016; 5/15/2016 - 5/23/2016; 5/22/2016 - 5/30/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/12/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/26/2016; 9/25/2016 - 10/3/2016; 10/9/2016 - 10/17/2016; 11/6/2016 - 11/14/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $2,845.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 17; 7 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Rome is famously built on seven hills (which you will explore during this program), but the heights reached by its art, architecture and influence are much higher than its summits. Venture beyond the popular icons of Rome to seek out its hidden treasures with local experts who lead you to enlightening experiences without the crowds. Captivating lectures and illustrated presentations delve into the Eternal City from before Caesar to modern Roman identity.


• Witness great masterpieces at the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Galleria Borghese.
• Examine stunning frescoes, mosaics and sculptures in buildings such as: Basilica of St. Mary Major, a 3rd c. Roman house, Capitoline museum.
• Local experts illuminate the history of Rome through lively presentations on topics like the art of Michelangelo and Bernini.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven terrain and cobblestone streets. There may be extended periods of standing for expert explanations at historic sites.

Date Specific Information

5-18-2014, 5-1-2016, 5-8-2016, 5-15-2016, 5-22-2016, 9-4-2016, 9-18-2016, 9-25-2016, 10-9-2016

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April 21 is the legendary date for the founding of Rome in 753 BCE. Be there to see how Romans celebrate this anniversary.
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Travel and study with Road Scholar in Rome during low season means museums, other cultural attractions, and restaurants are less crowded, with more opportunities for relaxed “people watching” as we mix and mingle with the locals. The Sistine Chapel in particular will have less crowding in November.
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Itinerary Summary

Arrival Rome, 7 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Rome
7 nights

Delve into the history of Ancient Rome through an expert lecture then explore Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Discover Aventine Hill and the Circus Maximus then continue to Capitoline Hill and the Capitoline Museum to view many of the priceless Roman artifacts in its collection. With reserved entrances to the Borghese Gallery and the Vatican Museums, inspect some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Explore residential life in two unique parts of Rome, the Tiber Island and the Roman Jewish Ghetto. Walk through the picturesque Trastevere district and enjoy dinner in a neighborhood trattoria.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Four-star hotel within walking distance to Piazza Venezia, Forum and Trevi Fountain.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Pauline Fry

Pauline Fry is an associate professor of English at the Rome campus of the University of Maryland University College. With two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Oregon and a master’s in modern literature from Kent State, Pauline has helped develop field-study courses across Europe on the relationship between cities and the works by British and American writers they inspire. A lecturer since 1990, Fry enjoys learning from her Road Scholar participants about their own varied backgrounds.
Elisabetta Interdonato

Dr. Elisabetta Interdonato is a native Roman who earned her doctorate in classical archaeology at the University of Rome "La Sapienza." She did further post-doctoral studies at the University of Basilicata and at the Universite' de Haute Bretagne where she also taught as a visiting professor. She currently teaches at the Pantheon Institute. In addition to her teaching, she enjoys leading visitors on explorations of Rome.
Paolo Alei

Dr. Paolo Alei is an art historian with a specialization and publications on Renaissance and Baroque art in Rome and also in Venice. However, this does not mean that he has neglected Classical art, another of his passions. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University in art history and archaeology. Paolo teaches full time at the University of California System Rome program, and enjoys Italian cinema from the Neorealism period through the 70’s.
Rachel Potts

Rachel Potts is a licensed excursion leader in Rome. She graduated from Manchester University (UK) with a bachelor's in philosophy and French, and later studied garden design at the London Gardening School. Having grown up in Rome, she chose to return to Italy and share her knowledge and love of Rome and surrounding areas.
Julieta Seme

Julieta Seme is a passionate student of history, specializing in the history and culture of her native city of Rome. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome with a concentration in painting before earning a degree in classical archaeology and art history from the University of Rome. Outside of history, Julieta enjoys hiking beautiful nature trails by the seaside or in the mountains of Italy.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Pace Helvezia
  Rome, Italy 7 nights
 Hotel Pace Helvezia
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The hotel is situated near Piazza Venezia in the center of Rome, well within walking distance of the Forum, Colosseum, monument to Victor Emanuel, and Trevi Fountain. The terrace lounge with panoramic views of the city is open from early spring to late autumn.
  Contact info: Via 4 Novembre, 104
Rome,  00187 Italy
phone: +39 06 679 5105
  Room amenities: All rooms have private bathroom, writing desk. Individual control heat/air conditioning, satellite TV, room safe, mini bar, hair dryer. Free Wi-Fi.
  Facility amenities: Reception desk is open 24 hours. Enjoy a coffee or drink at the bar in the lobby. Free Wi-Fi throughout the facility. Laundry service available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system or Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidators such as or Expedia.
  Check in time: 1:00 PM
  Additional nights after: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system or Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidators such as or Expedia.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for morning arrivals. Hotel check in 1:00 pm. Meet in the lobby at 4 pm for Orientation. You will be staying at Hotel Pace Helvezia that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast, transfers to airport. Hotel check out by 11 am. You will be staying at Hotel Pace Helvezia the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Trains come to the Rome station from all over Europe and Italy. From the main train station, Roma Termini, the best way to arrive at the hotel is by taxi (fare will be about EUR 15).
To Start of Program
  Location:  Rome
  Nearest city or town:  Rome
  Nearest highway: A1
  Nearest airport:  Leonardo da Vinci - Fiumicino
  Transportation to site: To reach the program site on your own: From Rome Fiumicino Airport trains depart twice an hour for Roma Termini, the main train station. The line is called "Leonardo Express." Purchase tickets at the station attached to the airport terminal. Fare is EUR 14 pp. From Roma Termini (train station) take a taxi to the hotel - fare is about EUR 15. Taxi fare direct from the airport to the hotel is set by the city at EUR 48. Max. 4 persons to a taxi. Share a ride shuttle service can be booked at You can also contact the Hotel Pace Helvezia to arrange a private car and driver. Please note that as you exit the airport or train station you should not accept offers for taxis from people that approach you. Proceed to the exit and look for the well marked TAXI stand where authorized metered taxis await their fares in an orderly fashion.
  From End of Program
  Location: Rome
  Transportation from site: To reach the airport on your own the hotel can arrange a private car and driver or you can take public transportation, starting with a taxi (fare about EUR 15) to Roma Termini, the main train station. The Leonardo Express line trains depart twice an hour for Fiumicino Airport. Purchase tickets at the train station ticket windows or automated machines. Train fare is EUR 14 pp. Taxi fare direct from the hotel to the airport is set by the city at EUR 48. Max. 4 persons to a taxi. Share a ride shuttle service can be booked at
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from points in North America
(Sunday, May 18)
 In Transit: Overnight flight crossing the Atlantic Ocean with arrivals the following day.

Day 2: Orientation \ Welcome Reception \ Neighborhood Walk
(Monday, May 19)

Note: Transfer to the hotel for check-in. Minimal exertion.

 Arrive To: Arrival at hotel in Rome. The group leader will be at the reception to meet arriving travelers. Check in is early afternoon. Relax in the lounge or explore the area of the hotel (Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain).
 Lunch: Buffet lunch at a restaurant a few blocks from the hotel.
 Afternoon: At the orientation meeting, the group leader distributes the most updated and detailed daily schedule and goes over logistics. The session is followed by a neighborhood walk pointing out the location of ATMs, pharmacies, grocery stores, and nearby attractions.
 Dinner: Prior to dinner gather at the appointed time for a welcome reception to meet your fellow adventurers. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Roman History \ Colosseum \ Capitoline
(Tuesday, May 20)

Note: Walking on uneven cobblestone paths and a low hill requires stamina for a one and a half hour outing. To reach the upper level of the Colosseum there is an elevator. Extensive standing while the guide explains the art in the Capitoline Museum.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. Choices include coffee, tea, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, breads, cakes, pastries, boiled eggs, cold cuts and sliced cheeses.
 Morning: An illustrated lecture on The History of Ancient Rome leads you from its foundation as a small village to its supremacy which lasted nearly 1000 years. Many of the ancient structures and institutions continue to the present. Expert-led visit to the Colosseum for reserved entrance time.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Short walk to the Capitoline Hill and Museum. The expert will comment on major pieces in the collection; the Etruscan She Wolf with the Renaissance addition of Romulus and Remus; the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and the foundations of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Cross to the other wing of the museum through the Tabularium, ancient Rome's archives. There is a commanding view of the Forum from that vantage point. Ascend at the Braccio Nuovo or new wing; this is home to the Dying Gaul and the Capitoline Venus. Short walk back to the hotel takes you past the impressive Altar of the Homeland, the white marble monument with the tomb of the unknown soldier and equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the king from the Savoy family that ruled Italy in the late 1800s.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Roman Forum \ Palatine and Aventine Hills \ Renaissance and Baroque Art
(Wednesday, May 21)

Note: Pretty taxing, the two mile walk includes the ascent of two low hills. The terrain of the Forum is uneven with dirt and original cobblestoned paths.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to the Roman Forum, the civic, religious and political hub of ancient Rome. Continue to the Palatine Hill. From the southern ledge (unless otherwise restricted), peer down to the Circus Maximus. Coach to the Aventine hill, where, according to traditions was Remus' homestead. The expert-led visit includes a stroll through the Orange Garden with a panoramic view of Rome. The trees in the garden are supposedly descendants of a bitter orange tree St. Dominick brought from Spain (in the 1200s) to a monastery on the Aventine Hill.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch the expert leads a walk of discovery to the Spanish Steps, past Bernini's palace and on to the Trevi Fountain. Built to commemorate the restored aqueduct that brought water into Rome, the central figure of Neptune, god of the waters rides a conch shell and two Tritons hold bridled sea horses, one representing the calm seas, the other stormy seas. Short walk to the hotel. Late afternoon lecture on Michelangelo and the Art of the Sistine Chapel, in preparation for next day's visit.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Vatican Museums \ S. Peter's Basilica \ Contemporary Italian Politics
(Thursday, May 22)

Note: A few flights of stairs at the Vatican Museums. In the crowded museum there is few opportunities to sit and rest until the Sistine Chapel which has benches along the side walls.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Board coach for Vatican Museums, reserved entrance. The Vatican Museums is comprised of a number of collections: Egypt and Mesopotamia; Greek, Etruscan, Rome; a picture gallery. There are unannounced closings of galleries, so our expert will maximize the time and discuss the most significant pieces available. Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, with scenes from the book of Genesis and the Last Judgment behind the main altar are the main attraction. From the Sistine Chapel, the guide will lead the group through the back door down to the Basilica of St. Peter. In a side chapel, behind a protective glass, you can see the famous Pieta', Michelangelo's early work and only piece he signed. Above the altar stands Bernini's Baldacchino or canopy; it is over 100 feet high. There are countless historical references and events associated with this Basilica, once the largest in the world. Stepping our onto the front porch, you will admire the colonnade designed by Bernini, evocative of the welcoming embracing arms of the church.
 Lunch: Transportation to the hotel for a buffet lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: At the Domus Romane of Palazzo Valentini, a multi-media presentation of partrician houses from the 4th century CE. Short walk (2 blocks) to the hotel for a late afternoon lecture by a professor and journalist on Contemporary Italian Politics.
 Dinner: Enjoy Roman dishes at a characteristic restaurant near Trajan's Forum.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Caelian and Esquiline Hills \ Quirinal and Baroque Walk
(Friday, May 23)

Note: Short coach rides to Caelian and Esquiline hills. The walks are short urban treks with some pews and seating available on church visits. Standing for extended time at the Roman House on the Caelian hill.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to the site of the first church built in honor of Mary. The guide points out the ancient mosaics and coffered ceiling decorated with gold leaf from the Americas. Board the coach again for a short ride to the Caelian Hill where excavations have revealed a 2nd-3rd c. CE Roman house. During the visit the expert will offer interpretations of the frescoes; experts debate whether they depict pagan themes or early Christian themes. Coach back to the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Around 3 pm, coach departs from the hotel for the short ride to the Colle Oppio. Short walk to the church of St. Peter in Chains to see Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the grandiose vision Pope Julius II had intended for his monument in S. Peter's Basilica (where he is actually buried). Walk back to Colle Oppio and board coach to the Quirinal. Guided visit continues to the chapel of a small church to see Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa. Short walk on narrow sidewalks to two small churches where you can compare the works of rival architects: Borromini's oval shaped S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and Bernini's oval design of S. Andrea al Quirinale. Continue down the road on foot to Piazza del Quirinale, formerly a papal palace turned king's palace and now the residence of the President of Italy. There is a commanding view of Rome from up there. Short walk back to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Piazza Navona \ Pantheon \ Trastevere district
(Saturday, May 24)

Note: Standing for extended period on piazza walks. the longer Trastevere walk involves going down and back up a couple flights of stairs to the base of the Island, water levels permitting.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Transportation to Piazza Navona. Once the "Agones" built by the Emperor Domitian (81-96) for track and field games, the buildings lining the piazza have the footprint of the bleachers. Now the quintessential Baroque piazza, it is home to artists and performers. Bernini's statue of the Four Rivers sits in the middle and Borromini's church of St. Agnes is on the west side. Cross the street toward the Pantheon, the temple/celestial observatory engineered by the Emperor Hadrian around 122 CE. The niches along the interior perimeter are illuminated by the sun at different times of the year and day. King Vittorio Emanuele II, his wife and son are buried there. The painter Raphael's tomb lines the far most left niche from the main entrance. The interior forms a sphere 142 feet in diameter and the oculus (opening in the roof) is 29 feet across. Short walk to a patrician palazzo for a concert of Baroque music.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: At the hotel meeting room, a lecture on the Legacy of Rome is designed to pull together what we have learned and experienced. After a short break, a walk of discovery to the Jewish Ghetto, where we walk through the neighborhood (without entering the museum or synagogue). The area of the Ghetto was where the Jews were confined from the 16th-19th centuries. Walk continues to the Tiber Island, the original crossing point of the Tiber in antiquity. The Island was used as a healing sanctuary to "isolate" the sick and there was a temple to Aesculapius on the aft end of the island. We will look at portions of the marble relief showing the intertwined serpents around the staff, symbol of the medical arts. From there you can see the oldest span of a Roman bridge, Pons Aemilius, dating to the 2rd century BCE. The tradition of healing continues on the island, where the Fatebenefratelli Hospital is located. Cross over the Tiber to Trastevere for dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Trastevere. Transportation back to the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Free Morning \ Borghese Gallery \ Farewell dinner
(Sunday, May 25)

Note: Light day of exertion, depending on your destination during free time. A circular staircase leads to the top floor of the Borghese Gallery.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Free morning to explore your special destination. Transportation details provided onsite. Suggestions include the Papal blessing offered at noon in St. Peter's Square; Rome's "flee market" in Trastevere. "Caveat Emptor" as the saying goes. Another suggestion is the Jewish Museum and Synagogue.
 Lunch: Select a place to have lunch from the many options available.
 Afternoon: Coach departs from the hotel to the Galleria Borghese, for an expert-led visit of the collection of art amassed by Cardinal Scipio Borghese, nephew of the Pope Paul V. The villa which houses his collection was used as a retreat and reception hall for dignitaries visiting Rome. A connoisseur of art, he acquired through purchase or intrigue art that he fancied. His most impressive collection of sculptures were done by Bernini when he was in his early 20's. His paintings feature Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, and others. The museum limits visits to two hours. Return to the hotel with time to pack prior to the farewell dinner.
 Dinner: Enjoy your farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Do not neglect to return to the Trevi Fountain and throw the customary coins in as you make your wish to return to the Eternal City.
Accommodations: Hotel Pace Helvezia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Departure
(Monday, May 26)

Note: Coach to airport.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel or packed meal for those that depart early.
 Morning: Transfers to airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

Author: Ada Gabucci (Editor)

Description: This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction.

Blue Guide Rome

Author: Alta MacAdam

Description: The 10th edition of Macadam's ultimate guide to Rome, with full color street maps, dozens of site plans, suggested walks and extensive commentary on the history and significance of every church, monument and district.

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Author: Ross King

Description: Presented with flair and backed by a wealth of research, King's captivating chronicle of Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel tells the story of its conception and creation.

Roman Art and Architecture

Author: Sir Mortimer Eric Wheeler

Description: Sir Mortimer Wheeler describes Roman art, architecture and town planning in this abundantly illustrated book in the World of Art series.

Rome Map

Author: Berndtson & Berndtson

Description: A handy map at a scale of 1:11,000, with a more detailed overview of the city center.

Rome, A Cultural History

Author: Jonathan Boardman

Description: Not a comprehensive history, but a good, easy-to-read introduction to the city and its landmarks that will appeal both to first time visitors and those who know and love the city.

St. Peter's

Author: Keith Miller, Mary Beard (Editor)

Description: Miller traces the evolution of St. Peter's from its original incarnation, built on the orders of Emperor Constantine, to its medieval rebirth and additions by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Maderno in this history, guide and celebration of the great baroque basilica.

The Art of the Renaissance

Author: Peter Murray

Description: A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists.

The Colosseum

Author: Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard

Description: This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths.

The Italian Renaissance

Author: J. H. Plumb

Description: A well-written history of the Renaissance, its artists and thinkers, with chapters on Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Women of the Renaissance.

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World

Author: Jasper Griffin (Editor), Oswyn Murray (Editor), John Boardman (Editor)

Description: Diverse scholars contribute chapters to this authoritative, illuminating overview of history, art, society and life of Roman and the Roman world. With maps, drawings and illustrations throughout.

The Seven Hills of Rome, A Geological Tour of the Eternal City

Author: Grant Heiken

Description: With a timeline, chapters on each of the seven hills, Tiber Floodplain and overview of geology, this accessible guide, written by experts in geology, culture and history of Rome, shows the importance of the geological setting to the history of the city over the millennia.

The Smiles of Rome, A Literary Companion for Readers and Travelers

Author: Susan Cahill

Description: A wonderfully inspired anthology featuring excerpts from 29 writers and artists interspersed with practical suggestions for travelers.

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