DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Rome, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ROME / ASSISI
We arrive in Rome and are greeted by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout the tour. We board our motor coach and make our way to Assisi, a “quiet medieval town, imbued with the mystical spirit of one of the most fascinating characters of history.” We celebrate the opening Mass of our journey at a local church. Dinner follows at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 3: ASSISI—TOUR OF ASSISI
We begin with the opening Mass of our pilgrimage at the Tomb of St. Francis. After Mass we enjoy a tour of the Basilica of St. Francis, led by one of the Franciscan monks. We continue with a walking tour of the city, visiting the major sites associated with Ss. Francis, including the Chiesa Nuova, built over the home of Francis’ family and the Church of San Rufino, with the baptismal font of the Saint and the Church of St. Clare.
This afternoon we visit the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, containing the Porziuncola, built by St. Francis and the Mother Church of the Franciscan Order. Nearby is the site of Francis death. Dinner this evening is served at a local restaurant in Assisi. (B, D)
DAY 4: ASSISI / FLORENCE / ROME
This morning we depart Assisi for Florence – the City of the Medici Family and Machievelli. We begin the day with a visit to the Galleria dell’ Accademia. This gallery houses paintings by Florentine artists spanning 13th to 16th centuries, but its main draw is Michelangelo’s David, carved from a single block of marble when the artist was only 29. After our visit here, we see the Duomo, with its pink, white and green marble façade, and Brunelleschi’s famous dome. It is the 4th largest Cathedral in the world. Next to the Duomo is the Baptistery of San Giovanni. It is one of the oldest buildings in Florence and is dedicated to John the Baptist. The octagonal building is famous for its gilded bronze doors, particularly the Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti
We will have some time to stop at the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) the famous 14th-century bridge, lined with gold and silversmiths. Later this afternoon we board our motor coach and make our way to Rome for dinner at our hotel and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 05: ROME — PAPAL AUDIENCE & WALKING TOUR OF ROME
Today we attend the General Papal Audience at the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall (subject to the Holy Father’s schedule. Some of us may want to shop at some of excellent religious articles shops in the Vatican area. After lunch on our own, we are at our leisure in the city. Take some time for shopping with fine stores of every imaginable item.
For those of us who are interested, our tour escort will lead us on a walking tour of the historic central Rome, including Piazza Navona, Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Stop in route for an ice cream at the famous Giolitti’s! Dinner is included at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 06: ROME—VATICAN MUSEUM, ST. PETER’S & LEISURE TIME
This morning we visit the Vatican Museum to view Michelangelo’s masterworks, including the Last Judgment and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. After our visit of the Museum, we will have some time for lunch on our own. This afternoon, we enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica of St. Peter, where we also view Michelangelo’s famous statue of the Blessed Mother holding her crucified Son. We have some time at leisure to visit some of the excellent religious article shops in the area, or to go on our own up to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, where you can gain a striking panoramic view of the city. Dinner this evening is served at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 07: ROME: FULL DAY AT LEISURE, OPTIONAL POMPEII EXCURSION
Today is entirely at our leisure. Some people may wish to stay in Rome to explore the city further on their own, or to do some shopping. Others may wish to purchase an optional tour Naples & Pompeii. Your local tour escort will be able to assist you in booking the optional tour. Dinner will be on our own today. (B)
OPTIONAL TOUR: NAPLES AND POMPEII – FULL DAY
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 the 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 SantaLucia 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. 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 Rome for the evening. Approximate cost:TBA.
DAY 08: ROME: ANCIENT ROME
This morning we enjoy a tour of some of the sites of Ancient Rome, including the Forum and Coliseum. Its real name was the Flavian Amphitheatre, after the 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. Originally on this spot stood a pool, around which was built Emperor Nero’s famous ‘Golden House.’ The construction was completed with the help of Jewish slaves brought here in 70 AD. The Colosseum served as the center for violent sports, and traditionally, as the site of the martyrdom of many Christians. We will view the Forum from outside, and we will enter the Colosseum.
Later, we make our way the Catacombs of St. Calixtus housing many of the tombs of the early Popes. After our tour here we visit the nearby 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 the closing Mass of our journey. This evening we gather for a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 09: RETURN USA
We transfer to the Rome airport for our return flight to the United States, our suitcases full of memories! (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.