DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Rome, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE ROME / TRANSFER TO SIENA
We arrive in Rome and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre escort, and proceed to Siena, the home of St. Catherine. We visit the Duomo, where we celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage. The main square of this medieval town is absolutely charming, and we will have some time to enjoy the atmosphere. Dinner is served at our accommodations. (D)
DAY 3: SIENA: ASSISI EXCURSION
This morning we make our way to the region of Umbria, and the town of Assisi, clinging to the side of Mount Subasio. This town was home to Ss. Francis and Clare. Our guide will meet us for a visit of St. Francis’ Basilica, where we celebrate Mass at the Tomb of St. Francis. We will later enjoy a walking tour of town, including the Church of San Rufino (with St. Francis’ baptismal font), and the Basilica of St. Clare (where her incorrupt body lies in repose).
This afternoon we stop at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. Here we view the Porziuncola, the tiny church contained inside the Basilica. Nearby is the place that Francis surrendered to ‘Sister Death’. We return to Siena where dinner is served at our accommodations. (B, D)
DAY 4: SIENA: FLORENCE EXCURSION
This morning we depart en route to Florence, known as the city of the Medici Family and Machievelli. We visit the Duomo–Santa Maria in Fiore; the Baptistery of San Giovanni (bronze doors by Ghilberti); and at the Academia we marvel at Michelangelo’s David. We celebrate Mass at a frescoed chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce. We have some free time to explore the city (the Galeria degli Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti, etc.) or stroll and browse along
the Ponte Vecchio, perhaps to do a little shopping (the gold, leather, and straw markets). We return to Siena for dinner at our accommodations. (B, D)
DAY 5: SIENA / ORVIETO / ROME
After celebrating Mass in Siena, we depart for the charming hilltop town of Orvieto. The town sits on a 1,000-foot high rock formation, poetically crowned by Italy’s most renowned Gothic cathedral. Because of its strategic location, Orvieto for centuries served as a refuge for the popes in troubled times. But Orvieto’s claim to fame is really much more significant:
“It was during one of Orvieto’s papal visitations, in the 1260’s (Urban IV), that the Miracle of Bolsena occurred. A Bohemian priest named Peter, passing through on his way to Rome, was asked to celebrate Mass in the town of Bolsena. Father Peter had long been secretly skeptical about the doctrine of transubstantiation, but during this Mass the Host itself answered his doubts by dripping blood on the altar linen. Marveling, Peter took the linen to the pope in Orvieto, who declared it a miracle and instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. Thomas Aquinas, also in Orvieto at the time, was instructed to compose a suitable office for the new holy day, while the pope promised Orvieto a magnificent new cathedral to enshrine the blood-stained relic.” (Cadogan Guide).
We arrive in Rome and enjoy a walking tour of the city, starting at the Trevi Fountain, where we toss our traditional three coins. From here we continue to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps, affording a romantic panoramic view of the city of Rome. Our tour continues across the city to the Pantheon and we finish our day at the Piazza Navona. We continue to our accommodations for dinner. (B, D)
DAY 6: ROME: SCAVI TOUR & ST. PETER’S BASILICA
This morning we begin with Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. After Mass, we enjoy a tour of the Scavi, the excavations beneath the Basilica of St. Peter (subject to final confirmation by the Vatican 48 hours prior to the tour). After our tour down below, our guide will take us on a tour of the Basilica of St. Peter. Here we view Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of the Blessed Mother holding her crucified Son, the Pieta.
This afternoon we visit the Vatican Museum where we view the masterworks of some of history’s greatest artists, including Rafael and Michelangelo. Our tour finishes at the Sistine Chapel, where we view Michelangelo’s artistry in the painting of the Chapel’s roof. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. We will take some time on our own for prayer and reflection, plus to browse in the many local religious article shops in the vicinity of the Vatican or perhaps to climb the dome for a breathtaking view of the city. We gather at our accommodations for dinner. (B, D)
DAY 7: ROME: PAPAL AUDIENCE, ST. PAULOUTSIDE THE WALLS & CATACOMBS
This morning we make our way to the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City to attend the General Papal Audience with the Holy Father (subject to Vatican schedule).
This afternoon we make our way to the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, housing the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle, affectionately known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Our day concludes at the Tomb of St. Stephen in the Catacombs of Saint Calixtus. Here we celebrate Mass. We return to our accommodations for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 8: ROME: EXCURSION TO NAPLES & POMPEII
Leaving Rome in a southerly direction, we take the “Highway of the Sun” crossing the fertile Roman countryside, known as the area of the ‘Castelli Romani’. Along the highway you will be able to see the Abbey of Montecassino, noted for its famous battle and complete destruction during World War II.
Arriving in Naples we will proceed towards the hill of Posillipo from where we can enjoy a spectacular view over the Gulf of Naples and the volcano Vesuvio. Descending, we arrive in the ancient fishing quarter of Santa Lucia and see the impressive Castel Dell’Ovo. Our city tour continues to the Piazza del Plebiscito, the Royal Palace, the Basilica of San Francesco Di Paola, the San Carlo Opera House, the Gallery of Umberto I and the imposing Maschio Angioino.
We depart Naples for Pompeii where we enjoy lunch on our own. After lunch we visit the excavations on foot with a local guide on an archaeological journey through the ancient city. You will see what was discovered in the 1900 plus years since Pompeii was covered by ashes during the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. Through the remains and ruins of this ancient city, we can picture the everyday life of the Imperial Age and imagine the panic felt by the people in those last few minutes before the city was so disastrously buried. We return to our accommodations in Rome for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 9: ROME: SITES OF ANCIENT ROME
This morning we embark on a tour featuring sites of Ancient Rome. We see the Roman Forum; we also visit the inside of the Colosseum. Its real name was the Flavian Amphitheater, after emperors who built it in the first century after Christ. Colosseum refers to the ‘colossal’ statue of Nero that at one time stood at the entrance. We also visit the Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth), which is found in the courtyard of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Medieval tradition had it that the formidable jaws would snap shut over the hands of those who told lies. Our tour concludes at the Basilica of San Clemente, dedicated to St. Clement, the third, successor to St. Peter. This afternoon is at our leisure. Tonight we enjoy a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 10: ROME: RETURN HOME
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our return flight home. (B)
NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.