DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Milan, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE MILAN / VENICE MESTRE
We arrive in Milan (the See of Ss. Ambrose and Charles Borromeo and Paul VI) and are greeted by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout our journey. We board our motor coach and make our way downtown. In the exact centre of Milan towers its famous Duomo, “the most magnificent Gothic building in Northern Italy” and the third largest cathedral in the world. We then go to Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo DaVinci’s masterful mural, The Last Supper. We transfer to our hotel in Venice-Mestre for dinner and the evening. (D)
DAY 3: VENICE: VISIT OF THE CITY
Venice is known as ‘The Queen of the Adriatic’. “A unique position, the grace of her buildings, the changing colors, and not least, the total absence of wheeled transport, make Venice the most charming and poetic city in the world.” Our visit begins at the Basilica of St. Mark–golden mosaics from the Second Golden Age of Icons adorn this magnificent Byzantine basilica built to honor the body of St. Mark brought from Alexandria in Egypt. Here we celebrate Mass
Popes John XXIII and John Paul I were Patriarchs of Venice. We visit the Piazza di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale (the palace of the Doge, the political leader of the Republic of Venice). The balance of our day is free to explore this exotic city. We return to our hotel in Venice-Mestre and dinner is on our own. (B)
DAY 4: VENICE / PADUA / FLORENCE / MONTECATINI
After breakfast, we board our motor coach and proceed south, stopping in the town of Padua, where we visit the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua and celebrate Mass. We stop in Florence to admire the frescoes by Giotto in the former monastery of San Marco. We continue to our accommodations in Montecatini for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 5: MONTECATINI: 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.
This afternoon 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 celebrate Mass at a frescoed chapel in the Franciscan Church of Santa Croce. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B)
DAY 6: MONTECATINI/ ASSISI
Today we visit Assisi, the “quiet medieval town, imbued with the mystical spirit of one of the most fascinating characters of history”. We stop at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels where we celebrate Mass. Here we view the Porziuncola, the tiny church inside the Basilica. Nearby is the place that Francis surrendered to ‘Sister Death’. We then check-in to our hotel. This afternoon our guided tour includes St. Francis’ Basilica, followed by a walking tour of the town that includes San Rufino (with St. Francis’ baptismal font) and Santa Chiara Church (home to the San Damiano Cross). There is an optional tour of the Hermitage. Dinner tonight is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 7: ASSISI / ROME: COLISEUM, CATACOMBS & ST. PAUL’S
This morning we celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis. We depart Assisi en route to Rome. In Rome, we check-in to our hotel. Then we make our way to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the underground burial site of the early Christians. We then take a tour of the Coliseum. Its real name was the Flavian Amphitheater, after emperors who built it in the first century after Christ. Coliseum refers to the ‘colossal’ statue of Nero that at one time stood at the entrance. We also visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, housing the Tomb of St. Paul the Apostle, affectionately known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 8: ROME: PAPAL AUDIENCE AND ST. PETER’S BASILICA
We make our way to Vatican City to attend the General Papal Audience with the Holy Father (subject to Vatican schedule). After our visit we will have time for lunch on our own and time to shop at some of excellent religious articles shops in the Vatican area. This afternoon our guide will show us the Basilica of St. Peter. We then will have free time to visit the Vatican Museum on our own. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B)
DAY 9: ROME: MAJOR BASILICAS & WALKING TOUR OF ROME
We begin our day with a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Here we celebrate Mass. We continue to the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran. It is here that St. Francis persuaded Pope Innocent III to give permission to begin the Franciscan Order. The night before, the Pope had seen a man in a dream and the man was supporting the tottering building of St. John Lateran. The next day, when Francis appeared before Pope Innocent, His Holiness recognized the face from the dream and consented to Francis’ request. We stop at the Church of St. Alphonsus to see the original icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
This afternoon our walking tour will start at the Trevi Fountain, where we toss our traditional three coins. 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, then across the city to the Pantheon and we finish our day at the Piazza Navona. We will have some time for browsing and shopping. We gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 10: RETURN
We transfer to the Rome airport for our return flight to the USA. (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.