Off-the-beaten path seems to be a phrase everyone uses in tourism nowadays. However this unique experience from Context Travel really delivered.
The three main sites on the itinerary were: San Clemente, the Case Romane (Roman Houses) and SS. Quattro Coronati. And at times, I actually felt as if we had the place all to ourselves.
The “Fall and Rise of Rome” is a 3-hour, in-depth look at the history of what was once the greatest power in the world. Our guide impressed us almost immediately. Not only is she a trained guide with years of experience, she’s also a full-time historian and a true Roman. Sabrina’s overall passion and knowledge of her city really set the tone for our day.
It all begins at the medieval Basilica of San Clemente – steps away from the Colosseum in close view. Built on top of the 1st century Mithraic temple and Roman ruins, most people are content to wander around the beautiful church interior and courtyard, not realizing what exists just below the surface. But as promised, this tour goes a little deeper than the rest.
We descended into the underground chambers and into another world. Cool in both its mysterious history and in temperature, which I gladly welcomed on this boiling summer day in Rome. Our group was small (5 people) which made the experience feel that much more intimate as we went through the dimly lit labyrinth consisting of alluring alcoves which we soon discovered were the remains of old Roman apartments. Now at underground level, we were actually at what was once the street level of Ancient Rome. Something I knew having lived here, however being able to walk amongst it was something surreal.
Sabrina was able to transport us back into time as we passed through the sites, explaining the story behind each piece of art – even the techniques that were used. From the secret Mithraic society to the Miracle of St. Clement recounted through murals - to all of the relics. This was a real comprehensive look with an emphasis on history that gave us insight into how people during that time may have lived.
You can live a lifetime in Rome and barely scratch the surface, but this tour really allowed me to see things I’d never be able to find otherwise. I highly recommend for both visitors and residents of Rome.