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Unearth a Hidden World Buried Beneath Rome
The Eternal City is more than meets the eye – go beyond (and below!) the main attractions on this thought-provoking journey into the underworld. Deep in the darkness, beneath the buzzing streets of modern day Rome, your guide will shine a light into the past as you uncover the haunting secrets that most other visitors miss out on. We’ll take care of the tickets and arrange private transportation so that you can enjoy the inaccessible sights without a worry – and completely hassle-free!
Rome undeground tours offer a stellar option for anyone looking for an unusual experience off the beaten track. Once the Roman Empire fell, many of its great monuments were reduced to rubble, but what remained below ground has been preserved impeccably, almost untouched by time. With countless clues on how Rome became the world’s greatest empire hidden subterraneanlly, you’ll gain a unique perspective on history as we descend well below street level and slowly peel back the layers of time.
Unveil “Shiver-Down-the-Spine” Inducing Sights
Our first stop is not for the faint of heart. From the outside, Santa Maria della Concezione may look like any other church in Rome, but its rosy pink façade belies the haunting contents of its underbelly – the Capuchin Monk Bone Crypt. Using the skeletal remains of their deceased brothers (4000 of them to be exact!), friars from the Capuchin order decorated every inch of these otherworldly chambers in the most bizarre patterns and formations – including a vertebrae chandelier and a clock made entirely out of finger and toe bones. Though seemingly macabre at first sight, you may change your perspective from “blasphemous” to “beautiful” when your guide reveals the deeper meaning behind these peculiar displays.
While the Capuchins were allowed to practice their faith in peace, their predecessors weren’t as lucky. For centuries, in fact, Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire, and believers were forced to bury their dead outside the city walls. We’ll follow in their footsteps and delve into the chilling Catacombs of St. Callixtus – the final resting place of over 500,000 souls. Explore the twisting maze of underground tunnels, learn to decipher the ancient symbols depicted on the walls and hear the compelling stories of how the early Christians performed their religious rituals in secrecy (and the horrific punishments that awaited them if exposed). Equal parts creepy and mesmerizing; this is one of those sights you have to see to believe!
Descend into History at Rome’s Deepest Church
We’ll end the tour with some good old fashioned time traveling at the Basilica of San Clemente. Thanks to one insomniac Irish priest, who insisted he could hear water running and decided to start digging, we can today explore all layers of this remarkable three-tiered "lasagna" church. We’ll take a few moments to admire the mosaics in the above ground 12th century Basilica before plunging into its subterranean levels – first the 4th century church and then the second underground level, containing a 1st century apartment complex (complete with a cave-like temple, used for the enigmatic rites of the Mithraic mystery cult!).
Out of respect for the holy places visited, and due to the touching nature of the tour, we always limit our group size to 8 people or fewer. The small group size ensures an intimate and private setting, where you can feel free to openly discuss thoughts and questions that come up along the way (trust us, there will be many!). With one of our experts leading the way, you will gain a tantalizing glimpse into a long lost world and a heightened appreciation for all that Rome has to offer!
What You'll See Along the Way
The Capuchin Monks took possession of the Santa Maria della Concezione church in 1631, bringing 300 wagonloads of their deceased brothers’ bones with them. Through following centuries, the friars used the skeletal remains to carefully decorate a suite of chapels in the underground crypt of their new sanctuary. For modern-day visitors, the peculiar embellishments may seem morbid, but the Capuchins insisted that the displays were assembled to serve as a somber reminder of our own mortality. Whatever your take may be, a visit to the crypt provides a dizzying, slightly bizarre and completely unforgettable experience.
Rome Underground Tour
What Our Customers Say...
This was a great tour with a superb guide, Patrick, who went above and beyond to answer our questions and guide our general stay in Rome! This was a delightful tour starting in the Cappucine "Bones" church, going to the catacombs of St. Callixtus and ending in the Basilica di San Clement. It was well organized, informative and full of history. Patrick really got to know us and made it appealing to our interests.
We just returned from a week in Rome, and we used What a life tours 3 times - each time was fantastic. The Catacombs tour was wonderful, guided by a lovely, knowledgeable lady who went the extra mile to make sure we had a great experience. They gave us almost private tour - very high quality. Highly recommend this tour company.
Mario was perfect for both tours with our 2 teenagers. Mario was very funny and yet still completely respectful of the subject matters. The tour included private, air conditioned transfers between sites which was awesome given the extreme Rome heat experienced during our visit. Mario was very concerned about his clients' well being, understanding and next steps. This tour was worth every penny!
We had Karl for the Crypts and Catacombs Tour and what a charming young man he is, who is also passionate about his subject and just knew so much. He answered all our questions and more. We had amazing time with him and ended the tour at Basilica of San Clement which was the icing on the cake. We could have stayed longer exploring and listening to him but sadly it was time to leave.
We can't speak highly enough about this company. We did the Crypts and Catacombs tour with Carl as our guide and although they say they will tour 7 people maximum, it was only the 4 of us which was wonderful. Carl is also a superb guide who is clearly not only extremely knowledgeable but is passionate about the history of the crypts and catacombs. Carl brought history to life during the tours and made us feel like we were back in time.