A Small Group Walking Tour In The Art of Rome


This tour takes you through the beautiful streets and piazzas of the Center of Rome, to discover works of art by unsurpassed masters, like Caravaggio, but also Bernini and Raphael. Seize the opportunity to admire these masterpieces in the very context in which they were created, while an expert guide will share with you all about these artists’ tumultous lives and works. What’s special about this tour? Beside being a priceless experience for art lovers, it is a pleasant walk through the city center to discover some of beautiful churches with the help of a knowledgeable guide. First stop on the itinerary is the Church of “Santa Maria del Popolo”, which hosts two of Caravaggio’s masterpieces. You will then take a nice stroll to reach the next stops on your tour, which are all very close to one another: “Basilica of Sant’Agostino”, the “Church of San Luigi dei Francesi” and last but not least the Pantheon, one of the greatest and oldest landmark in the Eternal City. Inside these sacred places you will admire incredible canvas by Caravaggio and other great artists the like of Raphael and Bernini.


Rome has been home all kinds of controversial characters and brilliant artists. Caravaggio is possibly the best example to describe the city’s highs and lows, its dark and light sides. Despite his early death at 39 Caravaggio was an incredibly prolific artist, who left Rome a rich art legacy. His genius ideas dramatically changed the art of painting and set the first stone towards what will be later known as the Baroque style.

Unlike most of the artists of his time he didn’t focus on portraying noblemen and clergymen – he preferred observing and transfering to canvas the daily life of ordinary people. He wanted his art to convey the emotion of witnessing the truth, observing its deep complexity in the figures of boys, prostitutes, poor people and old men.

What is behind Caravaggio’s daring attitude? Born as Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610) he was later to be known as “Caravaggio”, the name of the village in which he was born. His early life was spent in Milan, where he painted still life canvas commissioned by the local clergy. But Caravaggio was also a man of the streets, who soon found himself involved in a brawl with a police officer. This had him fleeing to Rome to start anew, thanks to his first protector, the powerful Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, who commissioned him his first major work of religious art. The work included three canvases depicting three scenes from the life of St Matthew: The Calling, The Inspiration and the Martyrdom, which are hosted in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. These and his following masterpieces shows Caravaggio’s deep physical observation of the world around him, which he effectively portrayed with his dramatic use of chiaroscuro, a technique emoploying strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms, to obtain a dramatic effect. Despite his great career in Rome, Caravaggio still led a tumultous life and in 1606 he, probably unintentionally, killed a man. After this event he was exiled and spent the following years in Naples, Malta and Sicily – his last years were spent running from one city to another, trying to get a papal pardon to be assured his return to Rome. Finally, in 1610, Pope Paul V began the process of granting his pardon and Caravaggio boarded a boat to return to Rome. Unfortunatley he never completed his journey. Caravaggio died under unknown circumstances in July 1610, after only a decade-long career. His body was never found.


As described above, during his early years in Rome Caravaggio met one of his first protectors, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte. His first commission of religious art involved creating three canvases, which depicted The CallingThe Inspiration and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew. This beautiful example of Caravaggio’s trademark techniques, “chiaroscuro”, can still be still found on the walls of the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi.

Even more dramatic are two paintings dating to 1601, hosted by the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. These masterpieces are the Crucifixion of Saint Peter and The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus. Here Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro reached a deeper level and became what was later labelled as tenebrism, a technique where the contrast between dark and light was even more violent. For the first time in art history, an artist caught the essence of a biblical scene and decided to capture its most dramatic of moments. Caravaggio broke with tradition once more, when deleting the distance between the subject and the spectator, who was invited to become an eyewitness of the dramatic scene. This is why it’s so easy to be drawn into the two scenes and feel for the Apostle Peter, lifted in poor balance on an inverted cross or for St. Paul, at the feet of his horse, overcome with emotion for his sudden conversion to the word of Christ.

A short walk will take you to the Church of St Augustine, also included in the tour. Here you will discover another trait of Caravaggio’s personality: his rebellious, innovative side. The artist relentlessly strived towards total realism in art, thus rejecting the idealized way of portraying biblical figures. He often used peasants and even prostitutes as models for his paintings, to make the viewers feel closer to the subjects of his paintings. To understand this nothing is more effective than admiring Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto, displayed in the Church of Saint Augustine. Imagine the shock his contemporaries must have felt when, instead of a classic image of the Virgin Mary on a throne, they faced her standing on her bare feet, with a peasant who paid his respects to her kneeled and showing dirty soles!


During the tour you will also admire the works of art by masters such as Bernini,  Raphael and others. You will learn about their lives and the powerful families which commissioned their works.

Useful Information

Meeting Time: 4:00pm (every day except Sunday)

Meeting Place at a Central Location in Rome (Full details provided after booking)