Art & Culture (le cose belle) / Historical Sites (l'antichità) / Reviews (da condividere)

Where we see the first settlement that became Rome: our tour with Walks of Italy

Wrapping up 2016 with a wondrous tour through time 

If you know me, you know that waking up before 11 AM whilst on vacation is quite the no no. But I am on a mission, folks, and that mission is to update the Young in Rome favorite tours page to include the best and newest stuff on the proverbial Roman block. Also, I love me some history, so if you tell me that I can spend the morning traipsing around the Romun Forum, gliding past the spot where it is said Julius Caesar is buried (and by gliding I mean wear walking shoes guys, because I was wearing boots and I was more like stumbling past the spot, and that is not a good look when trying to impress Roman emperors), getting to see the closed-to-the-public 1st-century BC home of the Augustus Caesar and his wife Livia, exploring the Palatine Hill, and winding it all up with a stroll inside the Colosseum, I am up as early as that needs to happen. I am ready. I am having breakfast beforehand to prep for all the walking and I am wearing walking shoes (next time). But I am there.


Tempio del Divo Romolo, exactly as it stood 2,000 years ago. No, really: same stones, same door, and apparently if you go up there with the key, the lock still turns. NBD.

This is the second time I’ve been on an experience with Walks of Italy, the first one being a really fun pasta-making class I embarked on last year, which left me full of delicious Tuscan pici and also slightly more handy with a knife (whether or not the latter is a positive is relative). Walks of Italy offer an assortment of tours throughout the country, but the experiences I’ve had with them have been in Rome, so I’ll speak to those: I’m picky about my tours, and I’m completely comfortable recommending these guys. Yesterday’s tour was the VIP Caesar’s Palace Tour with Colosseum & Roman Forum, and it was fun, informative, and I got to see things I’ve never seen before (this is a big statement, considering I spend a fair amount of my free time nosing out stuff to see in the Eternal City). Our guide, Vincenzo, an art conservator, encouraged our questions and made the 3.5-hour tour a breeze, excitedly leading us through what is without a doubt the prize point of the show: the home of the man considered to be Rome’s first emperor, Augustus Caesar, and his wife Livia. This archeological complex only recently opened for visits, and even now can only be seen through reservations with a guide. You guys. Even if this tour didn’t include other cool parts of Ancient Rome, which it does, it’s worth it just for this. We are talking walking past the 750 BC site of the first Roman settlement, where you can see holes in the rock from the first encampments. We are talking seeing the Rome that was before she had a name. And then there are the frescoes, art that is over 2000 years old and still boasting vibrant colors and incredible perspective. While we got the chance to explore an area that until recently was reserved for archeologists and historians, Vincenzo peppered us with fun facts: did you know that ancient paintings were created by covering the rock with plaster and then mixing pigments with egg yolk and applying it directly to the wall, creating a concoction which the stone itself absorbed and which ensured its survival through time? I mean, I didn’t, and I got to find out while gazing at the rich red pigment that traced the bedrooms, the delicate seashell pink painted on the walk to the library, following the footseps of a man who bought the home while he was a senator and planned and plotted until he took over the Roman Empire. Do you have goosebumps yet?


Rome before she was Rome: those holes indicate the first encampments, probably around 750 BC.


Beautiful painted ceiling in the house of Augustus. Nothing I paint ever looks this cool, and this work is about 2,000 years old.

If you do, you can check out the details of the tour here. Here is some quick info:

Places you get to see: Roman Forum, Arch of Titus, House of Augustus & Livia, Palatine Hill, Colosseum.
Recommended for: This is a great introductory tour of Rome, since it covers some of the must-sees of Ancient Rome.
Keep in mind: This isn’t a short tour, and although you won’t feel the time going by (about 2,000 years over the course of a few hours) or the distance covered (over several Roman dynasties), your feet certainly will, so wear comfortable shoes and, for those who may have trouble, please keep in mind that there are fairly steep stairs involved in a few spots. That said, a rather out-of-shape girl who loves carbs had no problem getting through it, so go ahead and use that as your gauge.

Alright, YiR-ers! That’s my latest tour breakdown for you guys. For new readers, keep in mind that here at Young In Rome we never get paid to say anything nice: we just ask for bribes in the form of carbonara. I’m kidding. The simple truth is that we check out tours for the purpose of finding the great ones, and when we find them, we love to share it so that first-time visitors to Roma (or fifteenth-time visitors, Romans or expats!) don’t risk being disappointed by a super-touristy tour.

As always, if you go on one of the tours we’ve posted about, please let us know what you think! We’re always happy to hear from you and can be contacted at

Happy travels, YiR-ers, and may the end of 2016 be full of grand adventures!



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