Of course, no visit to Rome is complete without seeing Vatican City, and a guided tour of the Vatican itself. However, there is much more to Rome than the Vatican. Many of the wonders of this ancient city are hidden below ground and are best seen with an expert Rome and Vatican tour guide.
If you are looking for the hidden history of Rome and its many different occupants over the centuries, then a visit to the catacombs with your Vatican tour guide is a must. Here you will find the ancient burial grounds of both the Christians and the Jewish inhabitants of Rome. Many the catacombs are found on the Appian Way, which is easily visited after a private tour of the Vatican. One of the reasons for this goes back to when the Etruscans were in charge. It was Etruscan law that all burials must take place outside the scared ground of the City itself. Romans incorporated this into their law and soon all the consular roads were thick with cemeteries housing the bodies of the average citizens and mausoleums of varying intricacy and elaborateness that housed the bodies of the wealthier citizens. It was the early Christians who built some of the most extensive catacombs and they were treated as sacred by the ancient Romans, as any place that housed the dead was. However, the same could not be said of later occupiers of the City of Rome. And this has meant that few burial sites other than the catacombs of the Appian Way have as much to commend them as part of private tours of Rome.
This, of course, raise questions about how these catacombs managed to survive as well preserved as they have, to be explored as part of guided tours of Italy, rather than being covered by tons of concrete and new buildings. The answer is that it has as much to do with luck as anything else. Rome was first sacked by the Lombards and the Goths. They were followed by treasure and relic hunters, who did just as much, if not more damage to tombs than the earlier invaders. However, following the Saracen raid in 847 the area around the Appian Way fell into steep decline; this was followed by infestation and illness, which meant that the area was abandoned, and eventually forgotten about. The catacombs were rediscovered in 1850, allowing their wonders to be experienced again after visitors had experienced Vatican City guided tours. Their wonder is at least in part due to archaeologist Giambattista De Rossi who discovered the St. Calixtus catacombs. He made the decision to leave the tombs, or at least casts of tombs, where they were found. This allowed everyone to enjoy and learn from them, without having to go into the many museums of Rome as part of private Vatican tours.
Learn more about the early Christians, martyrs and Saints that are buried in the catacombs of the Appian Way with the aid of an expert Rome and Vatican tour guide. Not only will you reduce your risk of getting lost, but you will learn more of the hidden and darker history of this area just outside the sacred city.