DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA Airport en route to Florence, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE FLORENCE / TRANSFER TO MONTECATINI TERME
We arrive in Europe and transfer to our flight to Florence. Upon arrival in Florence, we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre tour escort, who will accompany us throughout our journey. We transfer to our hotel in Montecatini Terme, a beautiful spa town and our home for two evenings. A light dinner awaits us at our hotel, then we retire for the evening. (D)
NOTE: YOU MAY OVERNIGHT IN FLORENCE FOR AN ADDITIONAL COST
DAY 3: MONTECATINI TERME: FLORENCE EXCURSION
Florence is known as the city of the Medici Family and Machiavelli. We admire the frescoes by Giotto in the former monastery of San Marco. At the Academia we marvel at Michelangelo’s David. We also visit the Duomo–Santa Maria in Fiore (with Brunelleschi’s stunning cupola) and the Baptistery of San Giovanni (bronze doors by Ghilberti.) The doors of the Baptistery feature Lorenzo Ghilberti’s masterwork, relief sculptures of ten notable scenes from the Old Testament. Michelangelo named these doors ‘The Gates of Paradise’.
The balance of the afternoon is on our own to explore the city. You may wish to visit the Church of San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo served as the parish church of the Medici family and contains the Medici Chapels, fashioned by Michelangelo. Or you may wish to see the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, home to the stunning Brancacci Chapel with its frescoes depicting the life of St. Peter. Others may simply choose to explore the city, or stroll and browse along the Ponte Vecchio perhaps to do a little shopping. This evening we gather to celebrate Mass at a frescoed chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce. After dinner on our own, we transfer back to our hotel in Montecatini Terme. (B)
DAY 4: MONTECATINI TERME / SIENA / ASSISI
We depart Montecatini Terme and proceed to Siena, the home of St. Catherine. We celebrate our Mass at the Basilica and then we visit the sanctuary that was built over the Saint’s former home. We visit also the austere church of San Domenico – “which contains the only authentic portrait of Catherine in the chapel where she received the Dominican habit and where several of her miracles occurred”. After our visit of Siena we make our way to Assisi, a tiny town nestled on the side of Mt. Subasio. Dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 5: ASSISI: VISIT OF THE TOWN
This morning we celebrate Mass at the Tomb Altar in the Basilica of St. Francis. After Mass and a guided tour of the Basilica we have a walking tour of the town that includes Santa Chiara Church (home to the San Damiano Cross) and San Rufino (with St. Francis’ baptismal font). We will have some leisure time this afternoon, and those wishing to take a taxi up to the Hermitage above Assisi, to find the place of quiet repose where St. Francis often retired to pray, may do so (approximately 10 Euros per person, payable to the driver). Others may opt to stay in Assisi and walk the medieval streets. Dinner will be served at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 6: ASSISI / RIPACANDIDA / SORRENTO
We depart Assisi this morning and make our way to Ripacandida. The town is famous for its production of olive oil and red wine. We have lunch at a local restaurant and celebrate Mass at the Sanctuary of San Donato. After a walking tour of the town, we continue to seaside Sorrento where dinner is on our own. (B, L)
DAY 7: SORRENTO: POMPEII EXCURSION
This morning we make our way to Pompeii, where we celebrate Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii and visit the ancient ruins. After lunch on our own, we return to Sorrento to relax and enjoy the beautiful setting. Dinner is on our own, and our tour escort will have some suggestions for those wishing to dine together. (B)
DAY 8: SORRENTO / NETTUNO / ROME
We depart Sorrento this morning and make our way to Nettuno to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces and St. Maria Goretti, who some of us will remember was beatified in 1947. After Mass here we will have some time for our own prayers and reflections. We continue on to Rome for some time to rest, with dinner at our accommodations. (B, D)
DAY 9: ROME: BASILICA OF ST. PETER, VATICAN MUSEUM & SCAVI
Today we begin with Mass at the Basilica of St. Peter, followed by a visit to the Vatican Museum where the Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo’s masterworks, highlights our visit. Our guide will show us the Basilica of St. Peter and we will take some time for lunch on our own in the vicinity of St. Peter’s.
This afternoon we visit the Scavi, the excavations underneath the Basilica (subject to final confirmation 48 hours prior to visit). The balance of the afternoon is at our leisure. Dinner is on our own tonight. ( B )
DAY 10: ROME: AM: PAPAL AUDIENCE / PM: MAJOR BASILICAS
We make our way to Vatican City to attend the General Papal Audience at Pope Paul VI Audience Hall (subject to the Holy Father’s 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.
We begin our day with a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother. We make a stop at the Church of St. Alphonsus which bears the original icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
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. Nearby is the Scala Santa, purportedly the stairs, which Christ climbed prior to his condemnation by Pontius Pilate. We celebrate Mass this evening at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Dinner is on our own tonight. ( B )
DAY 11: ROME: ANCIENT ROME, PIAZZA NAVONA, ST. PAUL’S OUTSIDE THE WALLS
This morning our tour of the sites of Ancient Rome includes a visit to the Coliseum. We will also see the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. Next, 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 morning at the Piazza Navona. We will have some time for browsing and shopping.
Later 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. Here we celebrate Mass. From here, we proceed to the neighborhood of Trastevere, where we visit the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, followed by dinner at a local restaurant, including wine and music. (B, D)
DAY 12: RETURN USA
We transfer to the Rome airport this morning 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.