There are more than 70 underground cemeteries in Rome, lining the ancient streets leading to the city. Not all of the catacombs, however, can be visited; a few, such as Saint Callisto, Saint Sebastian, and Saint Domitilla, are open for the benefit of mass tourism, but many others, far removed from the crowds, offer great interest for the more attentive and inquisitive traveler.
Any tour of the catacombs would be incomplete without a trip to the cemetery of Saint Agnes, on via Nomentana. These catacombs, like those of Saint Priscilla, are rarely visited by tourists. Even if relatively small, they offer the range of characteristic details to be found in the Christian catacombs.
Our guide will begin this tour with a basic history of the catacombs, including not only the motives and the technological feat represented by their construction, but also the fact that (contrary to popular belief) they were not a refuge for Christians fleeing from the Romans.
We will also explore the key topic of the Fossores, or rather the gravediggers once responsible for burying the dead in the catacombs. The Fossores became a veritable caste, extremely important and influential until it was destroyed by the Church, sharing the eventual fate of the Templars.
We will meet close to the center of the city, enjoying a brief walk of 20 minutes as we make our way to the site. Along the way, our guide will provide the historical introduction as well as a few essential facts, preparing you to engage fully in your experience of the catacombs.
In the course of our tour we will make a brief stop to visit the Mausoleum of Saint Constance, built by order of Constantina, daughter of the emperor Constantine in 350 A.D. An extraordinary site, the mausoleum leaves visitors breathless, although few of the city’s own inhabitants are familiar with this marvelous legacy.