Suggestions for a history based guided tour of "ancient" Rome?

We will be travelling to Rome the end of November 2013 (US Thanksgiving week). We are NOT tour people at all--use RS and other guides to make our own itineraries, but our son (12) is a HUGE ancient Rome/Greece history buff and we think a tour with a knowledgeable guide (who could add more than just what's in the books) might be a good idea. We were already planning on pre-registering for the guided tour of the underground section of Coliseum, so we're don't need to include that. We've also heard that since the ruins are hard to really discern on your own while walking around the city, a good guide can make the history you already know connect to what you are seeing. Any suggestions? On line we have found context travel and walks inside Rome, but since the tours are sort of pricey, we want to be sure we are getting more than just a "skip the lines" type tour. We'd appreciate any help!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10844 posts

TI is short for Tourist Information. These are formal office near tourist centers. Big one on the main level of Termini in Rome. Smaller ones elsewhere. TIs are almost always our first stop when arriving in a new city. Get maps, orientations, sometimes discount coupons, recommendations for all kinds of things. A good source of up to date information.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10844 posts

We have used Angel tours in Rome and were very pleased. Second, most of the time we use local guides from the TI for specialized tours.

Posted by Juliette
18 posts

Thank you--are the TI places sort of right next to each site? Thinking about the Forum and Palatine Hill--do they have their own tour guides available for that day--do you know about how much a charge is per person?

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2197 posts

Highly recommend Walks of Italy. The guides are true historians and very engaging. Groups are small and so there is a personal touch. Also recommend Francesca Caruso, but she is hard to get.... See Rick Steves' guide for more options.

Posted by John
Van Nuys, CA, USA
154 posts

just to throw it out there, the Teaching Company happens to produce a DVD called "Experiencing Rome: A Visual Exploration of Antiquity's Greatest Empire". I haven't seen it yet (still on the waiting list at my library). The courses are pricy, but often go on sale, or can be viewed for free if you get it from your library. This isn't just some travel TV show, it is 18 hours of video plus lecture from a college professor. I have listened/viewed several of their courses (its what I listen to driving to work in the morning) and have been impressed by the quality of the information they present. This doesn't solve your problem of a tour guide in Rome, but preparing ahead of time can help you appreciate more of what you're seeing when you are there (with or without a guide). I watched their series on the Louvre before I went and thought it really helped me get more out of the visit.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Check Ron is moving back to Rome (from Atlanta), and he should know someone that provides such services. Our B&B host, Ivano @ is a fantastic tour guide, and he's famous for his midnight to sunup tour of Rome under the lights. He introduces people to the Roman suburbs, and says many absolutely incredible historic sights are completely overlooked 10-20 miles outside of Rome. We were introduced to Zagarolo, which was where Roman soldiers' helmets were fabricated. They also had gymnasiums training gladiators there. 5 minutes away was the incredible pagan temple Palestrina. These are just examples of tourist sights.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5734 posts

The great thing about Context Travel is that their groups are small (usu. 6 max) and they're led by people who have a degree in what they're talking about. We're planning on doing at least one this May when we return to Italy for our fourth visit.

Posted by ekc
Portland, OR
282 posts

HIGHLY recommend Agnes Crawford of Understanding Rome. She was our tour guide for the Forum, Palatine Hill and Coloseum last July and was fantastic. She has a masters in Architectural History and it really shows. She is very entertaining and worth every penny!