Fall of the Roman Empire History Tour with San Clemente Basilica and Underground

Explore the fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the Renaissance in Rome
From US$464 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • San Clemente Basilica
  • Case Romane del Celio Archaeological Site
  • Monastery of the Santi Quattro Coronati
Photos & Highlights
  • Explores the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the birth of the Renaissance
  • Led by a historian from a local university
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Tour Description
How did Rome go from a world-conquering empire to a crumbling former power? This tour of San Clemente explores the changes that gripped this city during the late antique period when Rome "fell" from the cultural heights of the empire to its re-emergence as a center of art and theology during the medieval period. During this three-hour San Clemente tour in the company of a historian, we will explore medieval Rome and visit three key sites: San Clemente, the Case Romane al Celio (Roman houses), and SS. Quattro Coronati (considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches of Rome—and quite off the beaten path). This is a wonderful itinerary for people who want to understand what happened after Rome fell and before the Renaissance began.

San Clemente Tour

We begin at the church of San Clemente, a medieval church built on the remains of a first century Mithraic temple and an unknown Roman structure. (Some theories posit that it's perhaps a house, though there is a theory that this is the Roman mint reputed to be located in this area.) We'll explore the Mithraic temple extensively and learn about this mystical cult religion popular with Roman soldiers that emerged at about the same time as Christianity. 

After exploring San Clemente, we will wind our way through the streets of the Celian neighborhood to SS. Quattro Coronati. This amazing church, regarded by many as the most beautiful medieval structure in Rome, was constructed in the eleventh century and houses spectacular artistic treasures including a chapel with frescos dedicated to Saint Sylvester.

Medieval Rome

Finally, will make our way up the hill to the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, underneath which we find a series of middle class third century houses. Here we will look at how average people lived and decorated their homes during the fall of Rome, marveling at the well-preserved wall decorations, and then how these ancient sites were transformed during the Middle Ages.  

Take Aways

In addition to seeing these very distinctive monuments and churches, the walk will explore the theme of urban stratification and provides a good complement to our Underground Rome Tour. Want to see more of Ancient Rome? Try our in-depth Colosseum and Roman Forum Tour.


For more information about Context tours, please visit our FAQs.

Book with confidence — see Context's flexible cancellation policy here.

Where do we meet? Where does the tour end? 
We meet near the Basilica of San Clemente and the tour ends near the Circus Maximus.  You will receive an email with an exact meeting point prior to the tour.

Is this suitable for children? 
If you're traveling with children under 12, we recommend our family-oriented Ancient Rome Discovery. We can adapt the route of our private tours based on the ages, needs, and interests of travelers in your party. Please share any specifics about your group’s needs in the notes section of your order, and we’ll adjust the itinerary accordingly.
Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
No, not all of the sites on this tour are wheelchair accessible.   

Does this tour require tickets?
Yes. We will purchase the tickets for the San Clemente and Case Romane and make all necessary reservations.  All tickets require a reservation fee, even children's free entry tickets.
What is the maximum group size? 
We recommend 8 people as the maximum size given the tight spaces in some of the venues.

Do you reserve headsets for this tour?
Depending on your group size, we may be required by the venue to order headsets in which case you’ll see a “Headset Fee” added to your order. If you would like to guarantee headsets for your tour regardless of your group size, please email us, and we’ll be happy to get them reserved for you.
Where You'll Start
(4.82) 100 Reviews

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Sara and I had a great time at San Clemente- she’ll laugh but my absolute favorite part were the super narrow “streets” in the lowest level- amazing place and great guide!
This is a period in Roman history about which we knew almost nothing, and Philip was a fantastic guide to Rome between antiquity and the renaissance. He knew a ton and had great ways of telling a story. Loved it.
We were blown away by the knowledge Paolo shared with us on this tour. We saw much less crowded sites which was a plus. The layers of history that could be viewed was remarkable. Highly recommend this tour with Paolo!

Uncover Rome with Context

Get to know one of the art historians leading this tour

Meet Cecilia