Activity note: Hotel check-in 2:00 p.m. Walking approximately 1/2 mile.
Morning: The Group Leader will be in the lobby of the hotel to greet arriving Road Scholars. Upon arrival, leave your luggage with the desk clerk and join the Group Leader for a late morning walk in the neighborhood. As we wait for all program participants to arrive, feel free to explore the area of the hotel (Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain).
Lunch: At a café near the hotel, we will order from a select menu; water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: After hotel check-in, take some time to freshen up and relax. We will meet in the lobby at 4:00 p.m. for a neighborhood excursion with the Group Leader who will indicate ATMs, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, and eateries before returning to the hotel. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Breakfasts will be buffets. Other included meals will be plated and served from a set menu unless indicated otherwise with water included; other beverages will be available for purchase. Transportation during the program will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Following Orientation, we will have a welcome reception and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or juice with some crackers or chips.
Dinner: At a restaurant in the neighborhood of the hotel, we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu featuring regional foods.
Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day with extended periods of standing; uneven paths, cobblestones. The museum has marble tile flooring; 2 flights of stairs.
Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet will offer an assortment of cold cuts, cheeses, eggs (hard-boiled or deviled), fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, pastries, cakes, breads, jams, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: In the hotel meeting room, we will be joined by a Professor of History who will begin to unravel the multiple layers of Roman history and set the stage for our explorations. After a short break, we will set out on foot for an expert-led exploration of the Capitoline Museum. Our expert will introduce some of its treasures, such as the Capitoline She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus, the symbol of Rome; the statue of Marcus Aurelius; foundations of the Temple of Jupiter; and the Dying Gaul. Short walk back to the hotel.
Lunch: At a restaurant near the hotel we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu featuring regional foods; water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: We will be joined in the hotel meeting room by an art historian who will present background on art treasures of the Vatican in preparation for our field trip. The talk will include some logistics of the museum visit as well. After a break we gather in the lobby to board a motorcoach to the church of the Capuchins for a live Christmas Baroque concert by the Schola Romana Ensemble. After the concert we board our motorcoach to Trastevere neighborhood.
Dinner: At a restaurant in Trastevere we will enjoy a plated and served meal from a set menu; water and a glass of wine included, other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Transportation back to the hotel after dinner.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; drop-off point for Vatican Museums is about 500 feet along stone paved sidewalks to entrance; standing in line while museum-issued listening devices are distributed; walking 2 long corridors (1/2 mile each); riding an escalator; climbing 3 flights of stairs: one at entrance, one to access corridor to Sistine Chapel, one to enter Sistine Chapel; marble floors; crowded conditions; extensive standing throughout field trip, no public seating.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Meet in the lobby to board our motorcoach to the Vatican. A local expert will lead our exploration as we see portions of this vast collection that contains masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and other works of art gathered over centuries. There could be unannounced closings of some galleries, so our expert will make the best use of the time and discuss the most significant works available. We will then move on to the Sistine Chapel, one of the most justly renowned structures in the world, with Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling illustrating scenes from the book of Genesis and the Last Judgment behind the main altar. From there, our expert will lead us down a back staircase down to the Basilica of St. Peter. In a side chapel — now behind protective glass — we can see the famous Pietá, Michelangelo's early masterpiece and the only one he signed. Above the altar stands Bernini's bronze baldacchino (canopy), more than 100 feet high. Stepping out onto the front porch, we will admire the colonnade designed by Bernini, evoking the embracing arms of the Church.
Lunch: At a restaurant near St. Peter's we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu featuring regional foods; water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: After lunch we will walk across the Piazza San Pietro and board the motorcoach back to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free.
Dinner: On your own.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; uneven stone pavers and cobblestoned streets. At Colosseum, steep, uneven steps to reach upper level; elevator available but requires walking about 250 feet. At Roman Forum, mix of uneven gravel, dirt paths, cobblestones.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Our local expert meets us in the lobby of the hotel and together we set out on foot to the Via dei Fori Imperiali (Road of the Imperial Forums) and the Colosseum. Built in the year 80 CE and officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum was the greatest in the Roman empire. It could hold more than 50,000 spectators. Architects and researchers are still not sure how the many wonders that have been described were managed. Historical records as well as popular culture in our time have made it an iconic symbol of gladiatorial combat and the sacrifice of untold numbers of slaves, prisoners of war, condemned criminals, and animals from throughout the empire. Those with the energy and stamina are welcome to climb the 10-inch high steps to the upper level. Our expert-led field trip will continue to the Forum. With the ruins of temples and columns as the backdrop, our local expert will describe the Forum as the center of commercial, civic, and religious activity of ancient Rome.
Lunch: At a restaurant in the Piazza del Colosseo. Set menu, plated table service. Water and a soft drink are included; other beverages are available for purchase.
Afternoon: Short walk from the restaurant to the coach pick-up point for the ride back to the hotel. Rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Dinner: At a local restaurant we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu featuring regional foods; water and a glass of wine included, other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: For those who would like to attend Midnight Mass on your own, most services begin around 10:00 p.m. The Group Leader will have information about churches in the vicinity of the hotel. Among these are Basilica of the 12 Apostles (2/10 mile); Il Gesu' (3/10 mile); St Paul's Within the Walls (6/10 mile). At St. Peter's Basilica (2 miles), the broadcast service is projected onto jumbo screens in St. Peter's Square. The event is free and open to the public with thousands of people attending. Tickets for a place to stand inside the Basilica or on chairs in St. Peter's Square are free but very hard to obtain; you might try through your local parish church or www.vatican.va. Getting to/returning from the Vatican is challenging at this time given the scarcity of taxis and crowded buses. It is best to walk, but be cognizant of the late hour and distance.
Activity note: Walking approximately 1.5 miles; from hotel to Jewish Museum 7/10 of a mile; uneven sidewalks, cobblestone pavement.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will set out on foot for an expert-led field trip to the Jewish Museum and Synagogue in the Ghetto. From the Jewish Virtual Library: “The Jewish community in Rome is known to be the oldest Jewish community in Europe and also one the oldest continuous Jewish settlements in the world… During the Reformation, in 1555, Pope Paul IV decreed that all Jews must be segregated into their own quarters (ghettos), and they were forbidden to leave their home during the night, were banned from all but the most strenuous occupations and had to wear a distinctive badge — a yellow hat. More than 4,700 Jews lived in the seven-acre Roman Jewish ghetto that was built in the Travestere section of the city (which still remains a Jewish neighborhood to this day).” The recently renovated Jewish Museum, Museo Ebraico di Roma, opened in 1959. It incorporates some of the most compelling records, documents, photographs, and artifacts of Rome’s Jewish community in exhibits that tell a remarkable story.
Lunch: At a restaurant in the Ghetto neighborhood that specializes in Jewish-Roman dishes we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu; water and a glass of wine included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Returning to the hotel, we will have a talk and discussion with our Group Leader on holiday traditions in Italy.
Dinner: At a restaurant in the vicinity of the hotel, we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu; water and a glass of wine are included, other beverages available for purchase. We will have a toast to good cheer in the holiday spirit.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking up to 3.5 miles throughout the day; uneven stone pavement, inclines. At Victor Emanuel monument, 4 flights to stairs followed by elevator to top terrace for panoramic views.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: With our Group Leader, we will take a short walk to Piazza Venezia and enter the imposing monument to Victor Emanuel II, first king of modern Italy. We will walk up 2 flights of stairs to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then another 2 flights of stairs to the outdoor terrace where we will get on the glass elevator to the uppermost terrace of the 4 Horses for a 360-degree panorama of the Forum, Colosseum, tile rooftops of the city, and hills in the distance.
Lunch: On your own. The group leader will have suggestions.
Afternoon: We will regroup at a designated time and place and set out on foot for an expert-led field trip to the Pantheon and a walk around Piazza Navona. The Pantheon is the best-preserved monument from ancient Rome. Conventional history says it was commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian to replace two previous buildings and constructed circa 118-125 CE, but more recent studies have suggested it was earlier. The design achievements and original purpose continue to baffle archaeologists, architects, and historians today. The niches along the interior perimeter are illuminated by the sun at different times of the year and day through the oculus in the ceiling, the only source of natural light. It was declared a church in the year 609 CE. The long, oval Piazza Navona was built from 81-96 CE by the Emperor Domitian 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 fountain of the Four Rivers — featured in the movie “Angels and Demons” — sits in the middle and Borromini's church of St. Agnes is on the west side.
Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day. Stairs to reach the second floor of the Borghese Gallery. At Domus Romane, flight of stairs to lower level, no elevator.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will hop aboard a motorcoach and ride to the Borghese Gallery, the private pleasure and reception palace of Cardinal Scipio Borghese (1577-1633), a nephew of Pope Paul V, an avid art collector, and patron of the young Bernini. We will enter at our reserved time with a local expert who will lead our exploration. On display in the Gallery are important paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Botticelli and Titian. The highlight of the collection are the emotionally charged sculptures by Bernini, a true evocation of the Baroque. At the end of our field trip, we will walk to the motorcoach pick up point and ride to a drop-off point near the Trevi Fountain.
Lunch: At a restaurant near Piazza di Trevi, we will have a plated and served meal from a set menu; water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Short walk with the Group Leader to Trajan's Forum where we enter the Domus Romane. In the course of routine renovations on the 18th century administrative building that sits at street level, an ancient Roman house in ruins was discovered almost 23 feet (7 meters) below ground. A team of archaeologists and graphic artists have made a virtual reconstruction of an ancient Roman aristocratic house with lasers and instructional commentary.
Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we will have a farewell dinner with a plated and served meal from a set menu; water and a glass of wine included, other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite memories with fellow Road Scholars and toast new friendships. As we walk for one last visit to the Trevi, don’t forget to throw the customary coins in the fountain basin as you make your wish to return to the Eternal City.
Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check out 11:00 am. Refer to your program’s travel details regarding transfers.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet. If you have an early departure, the hotel will prepare a bagged breakfast to take with you including a fruit, a roll or pastry, and juice. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!