Day Tour

Caravaggio's Mean Streets (3 Hours)

Context Travel

Rome, Italy

Valid for Travel Now Through: 02 Mar 2019

Caravaggio's Mean Streets (3 Hours )

Rome, Italy

Tour Features


  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Sightseeing



Recommended Ages

12 and Above

Activity Level



Early Baroque painter, Michelangelo Merisi (1573-1610), better known as Caravaggio, left an indelible mark on the world of art; and Rome is fortunate to contain a large selection of his works. Many know him only as a controversial artist who fled Rome after committing murder, but his art stands alone in its quality and originality. For some, Caravaggio and his influence defines Baroque Italian art. This three-hour walk, normally led by an art historian, explores the nature of Caravaggio's art in the context of its time, in order to fully understand his innovation and the controversy surrounding him.

In this tour, we focus specifically on Caravaggio's work that lies in-situ, that is in the places that they were originally created for. In this case, our walk takes us to three significant churches in the historic center: Santa Maria del Popolo, San Luigi dei Francesi, and Sant'Agostino. Along the way, we'll pass through the same city streets—largely unchanged—that Caravaggio inhabited in the 1600s, a lively and sometimes dangerous landscape from which he drew inspiration and (controversially) models for his work.

We'll start at Santa Maria del Popolo, where two of Caravaggio's works are juxtaposed in the same chapel with that of his stylistic rival Annibale Carracci. This gives us a chance to consider the wider artistic context of the Baroque period in which the artist was working, and also to consider the major themes that he grappled with. As we pass through Piazza del Popolo and into the Tridente neighborhood where Caravaggio lived and worked, we'll talk a bit about his method, recent scholarship, and the controversies that surrounded him—including the accusation of murder—during his career.

Our adventure includes a visit to San Luigi dei Francesi, the church of the French congregation in Rome and home to Caravaggio's stunning series on Saint Matthew, his first public altarpiece. Here we'll discuss some of the fundamental art concepts that underpin Caravaggio's place in history, including his revolutionary use of chiaroscuro, the strong interplay of light and dark so characteristic and powerful in his work. We'll also slip in Sant' Agostino, home to a rarely-visited late work, and a perfect bookend to our time together.

Normally led by a Masters- or Ph.D.-level art historian, this seminar aims to give clients a strong understanding of not only Caravaggio's style and art, but also of the many other splendid artists working during this fascinating period in Rome.

About Us

The Context vision is to create an atmosphere—a context, if you will—for curious travelers to engage with local experts; to give them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight to the casual visitor; to invite them off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and culture that makes these cultural capitals amazing. With no more than six other people, you'll participate in an intimate, hands-on, conversational experience. No Tour Guides - Our "docents" are first and foremost scholars or specialists, with MAs, Ph.D.s or other terminal degrees in their fields of study.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our docent, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the docent. No shows are treated as last-minute cancellations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within three business days need to be made by phone to the emergency number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellations within three business days made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored. Other terms and conditions may apply.

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