These 3-hour thematic “workshops” unveil Rome’s architecture as few have experienced it before. For a richer learning experience we bring together small groups of like-minded participants (no more than six people total) to explore the urban backstreets, archaeological treasures, grand palaces and churches, and contemporary hot-spots of Rome. Workshops are led by top experts in architectural history, urban planning, landscape and other relevant fields.

Reserve a spot on one or more of our scheduled workshops described in detail in the pages that follow. Just let us know your anticipated dates and we will tell you what is available and the costs. We take bookings months in advance but occasionally have last minute availability).

Once you register you will receive clear instructions on how to reach the meeting place where you will join the assigned leader and the rest of the group. No flags or signs; we are subtle and sophisticated, but still easy to find.

For the next three hours you will explore the city, admiring and discussing its architectural riches, occasionally stopping for a coffee or a snack, and stepping into a workshop or a cloister or descending to visit underground ruins. Our alumni have said that the time flies but they continue to process the unforgettable experience for years to come.

A few examples:

101.  SPQR: Classical Rome’s Palaces and Public Spaces 

(Theatre of Marcellus, Campidoglio, Forum, Colosseum, Palatine Hill)

Teatro di Marcello
Teatro di Marcello

This in-depth but enjoyable walking tour explores the archaeological sites which made up Rome’s ancient civic center.  Our route begins near the Tiber at the Capitoline Hill where Rome began, and site of its most sacred temples. We will enter the important archaeological park of the Roman Forum, tracing the old triumphal routes and stopping to admire the most important of the temples, basilicas and finally the Senate house, the Rostra and the Tabularium.  After the crowds of the Forum we will ascend the Palatine Hill to enjoy the coolness and tranquility of the well-preserved Imperial palaces and picturesque Renaissance gardens. Our morning ends inside the archaeological park, a great place for a picnic lunch.

102. Imperium : the Fori Imperiali and Trajan’s Markets

(Colosseum exterior, Forum of Augustus, Trajan’s Forum and Markets)

This workshop explores the grand imperial ruins on and around Rome’s Esquiline, Viminale and Quirinale hills. We begin above Nero’s Golden House (which can be visited by special appointment independently upon request). We’ll look at the hulking ruins of baths and libraries built above Nero’s house to bury it after his demise, comparing them with maps and reconstructions to better understand what the site was like in antiquity.  We will then circle the Colosseum, stopping to see the Ludus Magnus practice stadium nearby.

Our walk detours slightly into the Suburra neighborhood, Rome’s ancient “sub-urban” quarter just outside the Forum, where we will stop for refreshments. Returning (by way of the house of the crusading knights of Malta) to the monumental archaeological park we will admire the Forum of Augustus and move on to the Forum of Trajan,  once Rome’s most spectacular public place.  We’ll read Trajan’s Column together, and finish the walk with a thorough exploration of the nooks and crannies of Trajan’s Markets, the world’s first shopping mall, today one of the cities most under-rated museums.

Note: this walk doesn’t normally visit the Colosseum interior, preferring to admire its massive exterior and leave the crowded, poorly preserved interior for another time.  We recommend when possible booking the special Hypogeum (underground) tour through the Colosseum management, allowing the only real privileged in-depth view of the famous amphitheater.

Last week I brought clients onto and under the arena floor of the Colosseum, and then up to the third level where the view is spectacular.

103. Campus Martius: Rome’s Richly-layered Historic Center

(Largo Argentina, Column of Marcus Aurelius,  Pantheon, Minerva, S. Ignazio, Augustus’ Orologeum, Mausoleum of Augustus)

IMG_3539.JPG

In many ways this is the most complex workshop we do, cutting across thousands of years in less than half a square mile.  We start with the sacred site where Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE, now a cat shelter. Our walk takes us through streets that were once thermal baths, gothic churches with works by the greatest of Renaissance artists, grand Baroque basilicas and crumbling Roman temples. The highlight of the walk is certainly the Pantheon; the best preserved ancient Roman building in the world, which we will enter late in the day when the crowds die down. We’ll stop nearby for a coffee, granita or gelato (or all three!) before moving on towards the tomb of the Emperor Augustus. We finish our walk outside the newest building in the ancient city center, the Ara Pacis museum, which contains one of the most beautiful sculptural reliefs anywhere.

104. The Broken City

(San Clemente, S. Quattro Coronati, Santo Stefano, San Giovanni in Laterano, S. Giovanni e Paolo)

A visit to the neighborhood in the shadows of the Colosseum which saw multiple phases of construction from the time of Nero onwards.  Much of what was built is now underground, buried beneath layers of later construction, allowing us to see how the city has evolved over time. We’ll start at the Circus Maximus, not far from the baths of Caracalla, and walk  as far as the city gates at San Giovanni in Laterano, the Cathedral of Rome. Along the way we will descend into archaeological sites and enter quiet cloistered monasteries, talking about the radical changes Rome underwent after its fall in antiquity and its resurrection as a Christian capital.

Our morning ends beneath the Basilica of San Clemente.  In the 19th century the Irish Dominican priest responsible for the church excavated to find two a section of Roman city including a religious center for the mystery cult of Mithras.

105. Renaissance Rome 

(Fontana Acqua Paola, S. Pietro in Montorio, Tempietto, Sette Dolori, Villa Farnesina, Ponte Sisto, Via Giulia, Palazzo Farnese)

Villa Farnesina
Villa Farnesina

We will start on the top of the panoramic Janiculum hill, viewing Rome from the grand late 16th century Aqua Paola Fountain.  Our walk takes us to perhaps the most iconic building of the Renaissance, Bramante’s Tempietto, considered a model for the new design of St. Peter’s.  We continue our descent into the back streets of Trastevere, talking about the workshops of artists like Bramante’s young student Raphael who lived nearby.  We’ll see some of his best work in the Villa Farnesina, along with his pupils Peruzzi and Giulio Romano.

Continuing across the 15th century Ponte Sisto bridge we enter Via Giulia, the quintessential Renaissance street where we will point out the difference between palace design of various families and phases. The greatest of all, Palazzo Farnese, is where we end our walk, with Michelangelo’s work to complete Rome’s most important piece of residential architecture.

These are just a few of the workshops we arrange: contact us for the full list and pricing.