DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart en route to Venice with complimentary beverages and meals served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE VENICE
We arrive in Venice and are greeted by our Catholic Travel Centre representative who will accompany us throughout our journey. We transfer to our hotel 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.
Popes John XXIII and John Paul I were Patriarchs of Venice. After Mass 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. Dinner is at a local restaurant, and we return to our hotel in Venice-Mestre for the evening. (B, D)
DAY 4: VENICE / FLORENCE
This morning we have some leisure time in Venice. This afternoon we depart en route to Florence, known as the city of the Medici Family and Machievelli. Dinner is served at our accommodations this evening. (B, D)
DAY 5: FLORENCE: VISIT OF THE CITY
Today we visit the Duomo–Santa Maria del Fiore; the Baptistery of San Giovanni with the famous bronze doors by Ghiberti. We see as well the Church of Santa Croce with its stunning facade. It has been referred to as a ‘Tuscan Westminster Abbey’ because of all the famous persons who are buried here, including Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, and Rossini. We end our morning at the Uffizi Gallery, featuring such masterworks as Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’.
This afternoon is at leisure; you may wish to browse in the local San Lorenzo market. (B, D)
DAY 6: FLORENCE: ACADEMIA, AFTERNOON AT LEISURE
We begin our day at the Academia where we marvel at Michelangelo’s David. Later we explore the Piazza della Signoria and the courtyard of Palazzo Medici. We end our morning at the Piazzale Michelangelo, with its magnificent view of the city.
The afternoon we are free to explore the city, or stroll and browse along the Ponte Vecchio, perhaps to do a little shopping. Dinner is on our own. (B)
DAY 7: FLORENCE / ASSISI
After breakfast we depart Florence for Assisi, nestled on the side of Mt. Subasio in the region of Umbria. Assisi is a quiet medieval town imbued with the mystical spirit of a saint who shaped Christianity.
This afternoon we enjoy a walking tour of Assisi beginning with the Basilica of St. Francis, including visits to both the upper and lower Basilica. We continue with a walking tour of the city, visiting the major sites associated with St. Francis, including the Chiesa Nuova, built over the home of Francis’ family. (B, D)
DAY 8: ASSISI / SORRENTO
Today we depart Assisi for Sorrento, a lovely cliffside town that can trace its ancestry back to the Etruscans. You can stroll the old streets where the shop windows display “intarsia”, fine pictures done with inlaid woods. At the end of our visit you’ll understand why “Come Back to Sorrento” ranks as one of the most familiar songs in the world. Dinner and the evening are in Sorrento. (B, D)
DAY 9: SORRENTO: EXCURSION TO CAPRI
After breakfast we board a boat for the Island of Capri, where, weather and sea conditions permitting, we will visit the Blue Grotto. The existence of the Blue Grotto was revealed in August 1826 by the German writer August Kopisch, who described its extraordinary beauty. Since then the Blue Grotto has become the emblem of the island of Capri. The lucky coincidence of geological and lighting conditions has created a double enchantment. The sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. We return to Sorrento where the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this enchanting seaside town. (B, D)
DAY 10: SORRENTO/ POMPEII / NAPLES / ROME
After breakfast we depart Sorrento for Pompeii, for a visit to the excavations of this Roman city completely buried by the volcanic eruption of 79 A.D. After the
destruction of the city, time passed, and Pompeii was forgotten altogether. Engineers found it when digging an aqueduct in 1600. Today, Pompeii is no mere ruin; it’s a time capsule, left to us by Mount Vesuvius. You’ll wander down ancient streets, read the graffiti on the walls, peer into shops and explore the homes of those unlucky residents buried under the stone and ash.
We leave the silence of Pompeii for Naples, and a visit to the Naples Museum. The museum is one of the most important and leading archaeological museums in the world. It contains an unprecedented collection of Roman-Greco antiquities excavated from Pompeii. We continue on to Rome for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 11: 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 12: 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 the excellent religious articles shops in the Vatican area.
We begin our afternoon 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 13: 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 day 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 14: RETURN USA
This morning we transfer to the Rome airport to board 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.