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 Please sign up with your primary email address as that will be how we stay in touch regarding program details. 

Registration is limited up to 20 participants. 


Image by Caleb Miller

Connoisseur’s Rome – the Art & Architecture of the Eternal City,

Docents of The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD

Rome is the city of eternal re-invention. From being the largest and grandest city in the world, the capital of the Roman Empire dwindled to a tiny, fractious fragment of its former glory. But Rome re-established itself amid the ancient ruins as the center of western Christendom and seat of the papacy. In terms of temporal power and artistic accomplishment this process culminated in the High Renaissance and Baroque period of the early 16th and 17th centuries. Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini were key players but there were uncountable others.


Discover Rome’s hidden riches and experience its familiar masterpieces either in private sessions or at quieter times of the day. The climax is the exclusive visit to the Sistine Chapel, after public opening hours and free from the maddening crowd. 

Among the other places visited by special arrangement are the Casino Ludovisi, a retreat for cardinals and the location of a Caravaggio and a private visit and dinner at the splendid Palazzo Doria Pamphilij, home to countless masterpieces including the world famous portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velezquez.



Arrival in Rome on March 20;

departure on March 27

  • Private visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

  • Visit to the Necropolis in search of the burial place of St. Peter

  • Private visit to the Villa Aurora hosted by Princess Boncompagni-Ludovisi

  • Day trip to Tivoli and Hadrian’s Villa outside of Rome

  • Private dinner at Palazzo Doria Pamphili

  • Accommodations at 4 star Hotel Ponte Sisto in the heart of Rome 

  • Entrance fees to museums, monuments, special openings to private and public collections 

  • Daily breakfasts, 3 group lunches, 4 group dinners and 3 receptions 

  • Transportation in minivans (and group airport transfers)

Program Fee
$5,100 (based on double occupancy)
$5,720 (based on single occupancy)



March 20th

Arrival and afternoon

in the heart of Rome

Meet program assistant at Rome Fiumicino airport and transfer to Hotel Ponte Sisto. 

4:00 pm Join Professor Elaine Ruffolo for an introduction to the program followed by an orientation stroll through the neighborhood around the hotel.


6:00 pm Join fellow trip participants for a welcome prosecco at the hotel followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant just off the lively Campo dei Fiori.


(reception and dinner)



March 22nd

Papal Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica, and private Scavi

8:30 am Depart for St. Peter’s Basilica. Vatican City is the living, beating heart of Roman Catholicism and of High Renaissance art and architecture. No other complex in the world better combines Renaissance grandeur with the deeply rooted piety of a 2,000-year-old religious tradition.


During this unforgettable day, by special permission, descend deep under St. Peter’s Basilica into the Vatican scavi in search of the burial place of St. Peter. Enter the world’s largest basilica and experience Michelangelo’s breathtaking dome and heartbreaking Pietà. 

Return to hotel where you are free for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon on your own.


7:30 pm Meet in the lobby and depart for a group dinner at Costanza Hostaria, Piazza Paradiso 65, where Julius Caesar was assassinated 2063 years ago on the Ides of March.

(breakfast and dinner)



March 24th


Farnesina, Tempietto and Private Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Visit

9:00 am Cross the Tiber River and enter the lively neighborhood known as Trastevere. Visit the charming Villa Farnesina, once owned by the Pope’s banker, Agostino Chigi, designed as a pleasure palace for Popes and Roman nobility. Travel to the top of the Janiculum Hill for an overlook of Rome and an exploration of Bramante’s Tempietto, one of the most perfect buildings of the High Renaissance. 

1:00 pm Lunch on your own and the remainder of the afternoon.

6:15 pm Transfer by coach to the Vatican Museums, where the group will enjoy an exclusive private entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums, the largest in the world, house the collection of the Papacy, including an extensive collection of sculptural antiquities, Raphael’s splendidly decorated papal apartments, and of course, the Sistine Chapel.

9:00 pm Graze on a light buffet dinner awaiting you when you return to the hotel in the late evening.

(breakfast and dinner)



March 26th

Splendors of the Baroque: Santa Maria della Vittoria, San Carlino, Sant'Andrea, and Trevi Fountain 

9:00 am Meet in the lobby and depart for a day of Baroque splendor. Immerse yourself in the age of the Baroque beginning with a visit to the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, the dramatic setting for Bernini’s unforgettable St. Theresa in Ecstasy in the Cornaro Chapel. Next, compare Baroque architecture through a visit to Borromini’s masterpiece, San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane and Bernini’s sublime Sant’Andrea al Quirinale.


Walk down the Quirinale hill of Rome, pausing at the palace of the president of Italy, and wind your way to the recently restored Trevi Fountain where you can guaranty your return by tossing coins in the famous fountain.

Lunch and early afternoon are free.


5:00 pm Depart for a farewell celebration of your Roman sojourn at the Palazzo Doria Pamphili, with a history dating back to the 15th century. The palazzo is still inhabited by members of this historic family, including their personal memories and art. Admire the original furniture, burnished mirrors, and shimmering chandeliers, as well as paintings by Carracci and Caravaggio. This privately owned collection is one of the finest in Rome and is worth a visit if only for one masterpiece: the Velasquez depicting Pope Innocent X, a member of the Doria-Pamphilij family.  


7:30 pm Enjoy a farewell dinner in the palazzo’s Sala Giove. 

(breakfast, reception, and dinner)


Program Coordinator

Kellin Nelson

Kellin Nelson first came to Florence in 2002 as an undergraduate with New York University where she fell in love with Italy, its culture, and its art. In 2007, thanks to a fellowship from Syracuse University, she returned and completed her Masters in Renaissance Art History. After working for several museums in the Los Angeles area, in 2012 she moved back to Florence with her husband, fellow Syracuse graduate Professor Sean Nelson. 



March 21st

The Campus Martius: Piazza Navona to the Campidoglio

9:00 am Meet in the hotel lobby and depart for a walking tour in the heart of Rome known in ancient times as the Campus Martius, roughly a four-block area where narrow alleyways spill into breathtaking piazzas. From the Campo dei Fiore to the Piazza Navona discover significant works by artists including Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini. Finish the morning with a visit to the incomparable Pantheon. 

1:00 pm Enjoy a group lunch at Tre Scalini, right in the heart of the Piazza Navona.   


3:30 pm This afternoon stroll through the Jewish Ghetto and up the Capitoline Hill. Experience Michelangelo’s Campidoglio, a masterful setting for the ancient equestrian monument of Marcus Aurelius. Enter into the Capitoline Museum filled with Ancient, Renaissance and Baroque art with an interesting contemporary art installation. 

(breakfast and lunch)



March 23rd

Day Trip to Villas

and Gardens:  Tivoli, and Hadrian’s Villa  

8:30 am Depart for a day in the country at Tivoli to enjoy Hadrian’s Villa, an Italian Garden masterpiece and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music, it constitutes a much-copied model for European gardens in the mannerist and baroque styles. English Archeologist, Richard Bowen will lead the group through this fabulous day at and ancient and baroque pleasure retreat.

12:30 pm Enjoy a group lunch at Ristorante Sibilla and continue your guided tour through Tivoli.

Return to Rome in the early evening where you are free for dinner on your own.

(breakfast and lunch)



March 25th

Collectors and Collections: 
Galleria Borghese 

and Villa Aurora

10:00 am This morning, travel to the famous Borghese Gardens and visit the Borghese Gallery. The Villa Borghese offers a rare opportunity to visit a 17th century villa, built for Cardinal Scipione Borghese to house his amazing art collection, including masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, and others.


1:15 pm Enjoy “la dolce vita” on the famous Via Veneto with a group lunch at Vladimiros, a favorite haunt of ambassadors and Roman nobility.


3:30 pm Finish the day with an exclusive visit to the Villa Aurora hosted by Principessa Boncompagni-Ludovisi.

Dinner on your own 

(breakfast, lunch, and reception)

Rome Skyline


March 27th


Group departure from hotel to airport.



Program Leader

Elaine Ruffolo -

Renaissance Art Historian

Elaine Ruffolo has been teaching art history in Florence since 1989 and her special interests include the history of art and patronage in Renaissance Florence.  Elaine firmly believes that the best way to understand a work of art is by exploring the context in which it was made.  What makes art history interesting and relevant today is study of the political situation, economic conditions, patronage, and the artist's personality that is reflected in the work of art.  Elaine currently lectures undergraduate and continuing art history programs in Florence. She is also the Resident Director for the Smithsonian Associate’s Programs in Italy, has developed art history programs for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Yale Alumni, College of William and Mary and the Patrons of the Vatican Museums.  She has been on the advisory board of the Friends of Florence since 2000 and consults for CEO and YPO programs in Europe.

Connoisseur’s Rome –
the Art & Architecture of the Eternal City
Docents of The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD


Program fee:

$5,100 (based on double occupancy)
$5,720 (based on single occupancy)


Please sign up with your primary email address as that will be how we stay in touch regarding program details. 

Registration is limited up to 20 participants. 


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