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Step back in time some 2,000 years during a 3-hour tour of the ancient Roman homes on Celio Hill. Join an expert guide in the Basilica of St John and Paul, worthy of a visit in its own right, and then head to the lower levels under the church to see the excavations of 20 rooms that were once ancient Roman houses. Marvel at the frescoes still visible on the walls as you hear about the kinds of people who might have lived in these rooms. Back at ground level, explore two more beautiful buildings on Celio Hill: the Church of St Gregory and Oratory of San Andrea.

Highlights

  • 3-hour walking tour of Celio Hill and its Roman houses with a professional guide
  • Explore the ancient homes under the Basilica of St John and Paul
  • See the ancient room frescoes and learn about life here 2,000 years ago
  • Admire the 4th-century basilica and walk the Clivo di Scauro, Celio’s old Roman road
  • Ogle the beautiful frescoes inside the Oratory of San Andrea
  • Discover the interior and Roman ruins of the Church of St Gregory
  • Chart the history of Celio Hill from its ancient roots

What You Can Expect

Celio Hill Ancient Houses Walking Tour in Rome

Explore the ancient houses of Celio Hill on this fascinating walking tour

Meet your expert guide in the center of Rome and, before you set off for Celio Hill, receive an audio headset so that you’re better able to listen to the guide’s commentary.

As you make your way toward Celio Hill, one of ancient Rome’s seven hills, hear about the area’s historic importance to the ancient city. Learn about what archaeologists have found there, including the excavated houses you’ll visit, and some of the ornately-decorated churches that are on the hill.

Walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans on Clivo di Scauro, a road that dates back to the Roman Empire, and stop for a tour of the 4th-century Basilica of St John and Paul (Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo). As you admire the decor inside, learn that when the church was built in the 4th century it was set atop the homes of two martyred Roman soldiers — John and Paul — and how it wasn’t until the late 19th century that a team of archaeologists looking for their tombs found much more than they were expecting.

Under the basilica, 20 rooms have been excavated, thought to have been part of several different private villas. Climb down the stairs to see these rooms (own expense), including the frescoed walls and arched windows that are still in remarkably good shape. Listen to your guide explain the purposes of each room, and the kinds of people who might have lived in them.

These homes were in a particularly wealthy area of ancient Rome, so the exquisite frescoes are not surprising — though they are remarkable to see. Don’t miss the image of Proserpina, a Roman goddess.

Back at ground level outside the church, continue to the Oratory of St Andrew to see the inside of this small 17th-century church and its fantastic Domenichino fresco, The Flagellation of St Andrew. The final stop on your tour is the Church of St Gregory (San Gregorio Magno al Celio), outside of which there are yet more Roman ruins. The tour ends outside this church.

Customer Reviews

Merrill V United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

We wanted something a little different than the usual crowded tour while in Rome, this fit perfectly. It was just the 2 of us with our guide, Marije. She was great, had lots of information and really helped to paint a picture of the ancient times of Rome. We walked around for several hours, we both really enjoyed this tour.

Aubrey W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

A very interesting tour. The tour guide was exceptional and the lack of a large crowd made the tour great.

Sabrina D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

I am so happy that I did this tour, and feel very lucky to have had Marije as my guide. Marije was completely wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable the tour was an absolute pleasure because of her. The tour itself is a great way to see a part of Rome that is not so often visited, despite being right next to the Colosseum! I really like ancient history, so this tour was right in the pocket. It was great having a guide to point out features I may not have noticed, or understood, and provide explanations to questions. The start of the tour provided a good historical context to commence exploration of the Celian Hill. If youre looking for something thats not mainstream, although it should be, then I recommend this tour.

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