Rome Renaissance Art History Tour

Discover Raphael's frescos at Villa Farnesina with an art historian
From US$442 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Villa Farnesina
  • Campo de' Fiori
  • Palazzo Farnese
  • Palazzo della Cancelleria
  • Palazzo Spada
Photos & Highlights
  • In-depth exploration of the great palaces of the Renaissance including incredible works commissioned by artists such as Michelangelo
  • Led by an art historian
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Tour Description
During the Renaissance, powerful families from all over Europe descended upon Rome in order to be closer to the Vatican and Catholic Church. They erected magnificent palaces, paved streets, and commissioned such artists as Michelangelo and Raphael to create beautiful testaments to their power and prestige. During the course of this three-hour Rome palazzo tour, we will plunge ourselves into this world, exploring the great palaces of the Renaissance with an art historian while discovering exactly how art and power went hand in hand during 1500s Rome.

Rome Palazzo Tour

We'll spend the first part of our time together in an area of central Rome near Campo de' Fiori where several important families from northern Italy built their palaces in the early 1500s. Here, we'll encounter a number of very significant artists and architects, including Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo, while our guide helps frame some of the basic concepts that informed the work of these thinkers, including a revived interest in antiquity and developments in mathematics and philosophy. We'll also look at the social and political developments in Rome during this period, as each family vied for the ultimate position of power: the papacy.

The Farnese Family

Our walk will then take us through Piazza Farnese, the site of the imposing Palazzo Farnese. This was the historical home base of the Farnese family, the wealthy clan that counted Pope Paul III among its members. Designed in part by Michelangelo, Palazzo Farnese is a supreme example of a noble Renaissance palace and is recognized as one of the most majestic and graceful structures in the city. It also exemplified the prestige of the Farnese and will lead us to a discussion of how art and power intersected here and elsewhere.

A Walk Through History

Our stroll through the rest of this neighborhood may include any number of other 16th- and 17th century mansions, including the Palazzo Cancelleria, a milestone of Renaissance architecture. Along the way, we'll discuss the lifestyle of the aristocracy, including the lavish balls and parties that were thrown here and that figured critically into the larger political landscape of the city. We will pass through many significant streets of the city, too, most of which date to the late medieval or early Renaissance period, including the Via Giulia, arguably the most important street in Rome, designed by Bramante.

A Closer Look

The second half of our tour will focus on one of the best-preserved Renaissance homes of the period, the Villa Farnesina. Built by Agostino Chigi, a wealthy Sienese banker who underwrote much of Pope Julius' enterprises (including the Sistine Chapel), the villa today boasts an array of important artworks. Among these are two major pieces by Raphael: “The Triumph of Galatea" and the amazing "Cupid and Psyche" ceiling fresco cycle. Quiet and rarely visited, Villa Farnesina will also afford us the opportunity to get close to the art that drove the Renaissance. Wrapping up, we will explore how the Villa Farnesina exemplifies the themes we will have explored on this tour: an interest in antiquity, the intersection of power and art, and the presence of the church in everyday life.

Looking for more Renaissance art? See our Vatican Tour.


Do we go inside the venues? We go inside Villa Farnesina. Palazzo Farnese is seen from the exterior. Please note: interior visits of the Palazzo Farnese can only be booked directly through the venue itself. they do not allow for any outside tour groups.

Do you reserve headsets for this tour? 
Depending on your group size, we may be required by Villa Farnesina 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
(4.64) 127 Reviews

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Paolo was knowledgeable and made the topic come alive. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him!
Fabulous wide ranging discussion about art, history, culture, religion and a wonderful dose of scandal.
This course is a hidden gem. The art work at the Villa Farnesina is spectacular. Our guide, Laura was quite enthusiastic and knowledgeable.