The Tomb of the Scipios, a burial complex for the political and military Scipio dynasty during the Roman republic, has reopened after renovations began in 2008. To celebrate, on the weekend of 17-18 December there will be free guided tours from 10.00-16.00, strictly by appointment.

Closed to the public since 1992, the site is located under a hill off Via di Porta S. Sebastiano in the Via Appia Antica district of the capital.

The tomb was used to inter members of the patrician Scipio family between the early third century BC and the early first century AD. Once a well-known landmark in Rome, the tomb was later abandoned and its location became lost. When last rediscovered, in 1780, its land was privately-owned but was bought by the city 100 years later.

The burial area consists of a series of intersecting 2m-high tunnels carved into the stone of the hill. The tunnels contain niches to hold sarcophagi, some of whose inscriptions are in the collection of the Vatican Museums, and the last two burials were made in the first century AD.

The redevelopment works have made the public access route easier as well as safer, by replacing the metal support structures installed during restoration works carried out during the last century. There are new reception services and information panels illustrate the archaeological remains.

From next year, on an experimental basis, the area will be open to the public with guided tours every Saturday from 09.30-12.30, by appointment only, tel. 060608. Tours, for groups of up to 12 people, will be led by an archaeologist.

Tomb of the Scipios, Via di Porta S. Sebastiano, tel. 060608.