The Roman Guy Catacombs Tour with Ancient Roman Lunch – Experience The Rome of The First Christians!
The Roman Guy tours have been the most consistently amazing travel experiences we’ve ever had, especially in regards to exploring Rome in the proper way – i.e. not just seeing ‘tourist’ spots, but also getting a sense of the real Rome, the one that people don’t often get to see in travel brochures and internet websites.
We have already experienced many of The Roman Guy’s amazing tours and enjoyed them immensly. The Small Group Catacombs Tour with Ancient Roman Lunch did not disappoint. The tour consisted of: Basilica di San Clemente; Mithraeum of San Clemente; Catacomb of Domitilla; Underground Basilica; Ancient Fresco of Jesus and the Ancient Appian Way.
One of the best parts of our trip was the Catacombs Tour, which also came with its own ‘Ancient’ Roman Lunch – and yes, that is exactly what it sounds like. The catacombs are one of the few places that most tourists don’t ever venture into, and by the Roman Guy’s estimation, 95% of tourists decide to stay away. Curiosity sufficiently peaked?
So here’s a little history before we go into explaining the actual tour. Basically, Christianity was illegal during the Roman Empire for several centuries, which necessitated early [and secret] Christians hiding their dead in underground tunnels and giving them proper burial rites where nobody would find them. These tunnels sometimes went on for more than 10-15 miles, not to mention going several stories below ground level.
Now, the Catacombs tour is definitely a little eerie – but in a good way you definitely get a sense of what the people struggled through when defying authority in those days.
The tour begins with an amazing example of what is typical in Rome and other ancient cities that is layered construction over time-subsequent churches, public buildings and even dwellings are built on top of the proceeding era’s construction.
The tour beings with a great example of the above at the Basilica of San Clemente, which is located in Rome. The church is from the 12th century, and marks a wonderful example of medieval architecture. Then, we actually go straight below the church and experience another church, but this one is from the 4th century. We then go even further and then experience the remnants of 1st century buildings. That’s right, those buildings were built almost 2000 years ago. Because of the different levels this church is nicknamed the “Lasagna Church.”
After that little section of the tour, we ended up going by private van to the Catacombs, which were located outside of the city. We spent almost an hour at the Catacomb of Domitilla – or specifically, at one of the larger burial grounds. Our tour guide [named Nina] was an archaeologist who had actually worked in the excavations of the Catacomb of Domitilla, and she was able to give us a lot of interesting details about the place – the construction, the way the Christians hid their dead, the way the catacombs and tunnels were built, how long they lasted.
Nina, our guide also showed us an underground Basilica from the 4th century where Christian pilgrims used to congregate for their faith. Pilgrims still come here today.
After that, we visited the Tomb of Priscilla. It is a monumental tomb erected in the first century in Rome on the Appian Way. The Tomb belonged to Priscilla, wife of Titus Flavius Abascanto, a freedman of the emperor Domitian.
Then, we waked on the Ancient Appian Way, which was the first major road built [in 312 B.C., no less] and it took people from Rome all the way down to the Southern tip of Italy.
And after that wrapped up, we got to our second highlight of the day – the Ancient Roman dining experience in a Columbarium. We had the privilege of eating food the way that people in ancient Rome would have eaten it and using only the ingredient available at a time. We had an amazing multi-course ‘ancient’ Roman lunch. Maybe because everything was so fresh it probably could have leaped off our plates a few hours before, given the chance and the food was delicious!
The lunch wrapped up the tour, at which point we were taken back to the city center. I’ve said this with each of the Roman Guy tours, but they really do start to feel like family after a while. This tour was only three hours [with an hour added for the lunch], but we felt like we’d known our tour guide, Nina, forever. Her enthusiasm for the subject was very clear, and she was very accommodating with our questions and personal requests. Plus, she knew every tunnel and every room in the Catacomb of Domitilla, and it definitely helped us learn more about the catacombs and early Christian History and the interaction with early Christians and Romans.
For the best fun and education you can enjoy along with phenomenal scenery and delicious food you can’t beat this tour. We have enjoyed several tours with The Roman Guy and each one leaves us with some of our best holiday memories and the determination to enjoy more of The Roman Guy tours.
Check out some of the other tours we have taken with The Roman Guy:
- Rome City Driving Tour
- The Roman Foodie’s Trastevere “Locals” Food Tour
- Colosseum – Dungeon, Third Level and Arena Floor
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Disclaimer: I were not compensated for this post although I was given the tour for review purposes. All the opinion within are my own.