Discover Rome's hidden delights and quirky sites on a 3.5-hour walking tour of the underground catacombs, Capuchin Crypt and the Basilica of San Clemente. The intriguing tour showcases the best of Rome's underground attractions, such as the crypt made from Capuchin monks' bones and the Domitilla Catacombs where early Christians worshiped in secret. Finish with a visit to Basilica of San Clemente to see a church like no other, and marvel at the centuries of history displayed through its architecture.
Meet your guide at Piazza Barberini in central Rome, and stroll to the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione to discover the Capuchin Crypts. Start by entering the crypt’s museum to see an incredible Caravaggio painting – St Francis in Meditation – as well as other relics about St Francis (Italy’s patron saint), and then head into the jaw-dropping crypts. From its arched walls to the picture frames that hang upon them, the chapel is made entirely from human bones. The mesmerizing display was created by the Capuchin monks who used the remains of their departed brothers to decorative effect.Hear the history and then head back above ground to stroll to the Appian Way. One of the world’s longest roads, it’s also known for being home to the catacombs – nearly 186 miles (300km) of underground tunnels that were used as burial chambers by Rome’s early Christians. Skip past any entrance lines and go below ground with your guide to visit the largest one – Domitilla Catacombs (Catacomb di Santa Domitilla) – and marvel at the treasures that lie deep beneath the city. Christianity was once banned in Rome and so the catacombs provided a peaceful sanctuary where they could worship. Marvel at the Christian wall paintings and see an underground 12th-century church, too.Head back above ground and walk to your tour’s final highlight, the Basilica of San Clemente. A one-of-a-kind church, the basilica actually comprises three buildings – from the12th centuries – each built on top of the other. Skip the lines outside and as you explore with your guide, you’ll see different slices of Rome’s history, noting how the architecture gets grander in each building. Admire magnificent Renaissance and 11th-century frescoes and pose for pictures under an eye-catching mosaic.Your tour finishes inside the Basilica of San Clemente, and you can stay longer if you wish to soak up the splendor of the church at your own pace.