Upon arrival in Rome, we will be met by our representative and transferred to the city center.
En route we‘ll visit St. Paul Outside the Walls, the burial place of St. Paul the Apostle. The chapel has numerous relics, the most notable are a set chains said to be the prison chains of St. Paul, used in the last days before his execution.
In the afternoon, we visit the Pantheon, the best preserved ancient monument, with the height of the dome equal to the diameter equal of the circular interior. We walk from the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain. Here we toss a coin or two in the world’s wishing well to ensure our return to Rome. We continue to Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome, where we find Bernini’s “Fountain of the Four Rivers.”
Check in at the hotel.
Overnight in Rome.
Breakfast at the hotel.
We begin the day by visiting the Vatican Museums overflowing with art treasures and admire “the Sistine Chapel,” world famous for Michelangelo’s Ceiling Paintings and “the Last Judgment.” We then visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, built over the tomb of St. Peter. This is where Peter preached, died, and is buried along with 148 of his papal successors. Upon entering the Basilica, we find Michelangelo’s Pieta and many works of art from Giotto and Bernini.
In the afternoon we visit the Basilica of St. John in Lateran. This is “The Cathedral of Rome.” The first great Christian Church built next to the Lateran Palace and a gift to Emperor Constantine. Next we visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, built on the spot where a 3rd century pope witnessed a miraculous midsummer snowfall. We will then proceed the Appian Way on our way to visit the Catacombs where early Christians held their forbidden service to escape persecution. Overnight in Rome.
Breakfast at the hotel.
We travel to monumental St. Peter’s Square to attend the Audience with the Pope. Time will be available to explore and shop in the Vatican area.
In the afternoon we continue to the Historic City Centre of Rome and begin a walking tour from the Colosseum including the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, the Arch of Constantine, and the Mamertine Prison where Peter baptized converts and continued to preach the gospel. We also see the Capitoline Hill, Piazza Venezia with the memorial to King Victor Emmanuel II and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Overnight in Rome.
After breakfast, depart from Rome our first stop will be at Monte Cassino.
Visit of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, the mother house of the Benedictines, which was founded by St. Benedict in 529.
Proceed to San Giovanni Rotondo. Overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.
After breakfast, morning visit of San Giovanni Rotondo famous in the world to house the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin friar lived a long time in the town.
We will visit the shrine of Our Lady of Grace with the tomb of Padre Pio, the Confessional of Padre Pio, the Crucifix from which Padre Pio received the stigmata.
Proceed to Monte Sant’ Angelo. The small town located on the southern slopes of Monte Gargano and home to the oldest shrine in Western Europe. Visit the sacred cave where the Archangel Michael appeared in the 4th century. The sanctuary has been a popular place of pilgrimage for many centuries and has been visited by numerous Popes and Saints, including St. Francis of Assis, St. Pio and also Pope John Paul II who visited the sanctuary in 1987.
Overnight in San Giovanni Rotondo.
After breakfast, we proceed to Lanciano to visit of the site of the first Eucharistic Miracle. This wondrous event took place in the 8th century when, during Holy Mass, after the two-fold consecration, the host was changed into live flesh and the wine was changed into live blood.
Continue to Loreto to visit the Holy House. According to tradition, angels transported the home of the Blessed virgin Mary from Nazareth to Croatia, and finally to Loreto in 1294, where in now lies in the Basilica of the Holy House.
Overnight in Loreto.
After breakfast, we travel from Loreto to Cascia, a small town in the mountains of the Umbrian Valley.
Saint Rita is “the Saint of the Impossible” because of her amazing answers to prayer. Her incorrupt body lies in a chapel in the Major Basilica of the Sanctuary of Cascia. We see her cell and other relics including the Crucifix from which she received the Stigmata. Below in the Minor Basilica we find a Eucharistic Miracle. A priest was called to administer communion to an ailing peasant. He placed the consecrated host between the pages of his breviary. It turned red with fresh blood.
Continue to Assis. Overnight in Assis.
After breakfast, we will begin our day with exploring the town of St. Francis of Assis.
Assis is a small Umbrian town in central Italy best known as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assis — patron saint of Italy, founder of the Franciscan order, and one of the most popular Catholic saints in history.
Assis’s main attraction is the 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis, which contains the sacred relics of Francis and beautiful frescoes of his life.
We will visit St. Claire Basilica , which is a 13th-century church that houses the relics of St. Claire, friend and protege of St. Francis of Assis, as well as the miraculous crucifix that spoke to Francis and other major monuments of the city.
In the afternoon, we continue our visit to Eremo delle Carceri: in the caves on the slope of Monte Subasio just outside the walls of Assisi, St. Francis and his followers established their first home at the Eremo delle Carceri (Carceri Hermitage).
He often returned here during his life to pray and contemplate. Then we continue to San Damiano Convent where St. Francis first received his miraculous calling in 1205 and where St. Clare died in 1253, it is an important stop on the pilgrimage to the Franciscan holy city. We will visit also the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, much venerated as the place of St. Francis’ death. Inside the grand Baroque basilica are two small, humble structures: the Capella del Transito and the Porziuncola.
Overnight in Assis.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Full day excursion to La Verna.
The Sanctuary is perched in an amazing setting in the forest on a high rocky promontory, visible from a distance. The sanctuary sits on the site where it’s believed that Saint Francis received the stigmata in 1224. From the sanctuary there are fantastic views of the valleys below. Today, the hermitage contains numerous treasures of spirituality, art, culture, and history. We participate in the Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross) at 3:00 PM.
Private prayer and contemplation.
Overnight in Assis.
After breakfast, we leave peaceful Assis and travel to Orvieto, perched high on a big chunk of volcanic rock called “Tufa.”
Orvieto is a city with significant cultural heritage. Its monuments and museums cover millennium of history, starting with the Etruscans. On our walking tour, we see The Papal Palace, Palazzo Del Popolo. Orvieto’s magnificent Duomo took 4 centuries to complete and here we find the reliquary of “The Linen of Bolsena.” In 1264, a skeptic priest returning from a pilgrimage to Rome stopped in Bolsena to celebrate Mass. During consecration, the wine changed into blood and spilled on the linen cloth of the altar. Pope Urban IV transferred the “Holy Linen” from Bolsena to Orvieto instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi.
We continue on to the beautiful, medieval town of Siena. Overnight in Siena.
After breakfast, we will discover Siena, which invites us to stroll through its Gothic streets.
We will admire the famous Piazza del Campo. This shell shaped square is the dramatic setting for the annual Palio bareback horserace. The piazza`s focal point is the Palazzo Pubblico, the public palace, which dates back to 1250.
We continue uphill to visit the monumental Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Shrine and House of St Catherine, which has become a popular place of pilgrimage. The house of the Saint, which was proclaimed Doctor of the Church, was converted into a sanctuary in 1464 and today contains a number of documents and paintings related to her.
Proceed to Florence. Upon arrival we will take a panoramic view of the city.
Overnight in Florence.
After breakfast, guided walking tour of Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance.
This is the city of Dante, Boccaccio, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci. It was a Florentine by the name of Amerigo Vespucci after whom a continent was named. We see the city highlights: Basilica of Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) the largest and most beautiful of all Italian Franciscan Churches and the burial place of Michelangelo and Galileo, Piazza Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio with its courtyard, Piazza Del Duomo and its Cathedral, Giotto’s Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistery.
We continue to Padua, which is a city in the Veneto region, in Northern Italy, known for Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, home of Italy’s second oldest university: Galileo lectured in Padua’s 13th century university; Dante, Petrarch, and Tasso studied here and for the large 13th-century Basilica of Sant’Antonio. We visit The basilica, characterized by Byzantine-style domes and valuable works of art, houses the tomb of the saint to whom it is dedicated. In the historic center of the city there are streets with arcades and elegant cafes frequented by the students of the University of Padua, founded in 1222.
Overnight in Padua.
Breakfast in hotel. Departure by bus to Venice Tronchetto Terminal and embarkation on the boat to reach the city centre.
Venice, the city where everything and everyone floats. This lovely Lagoon-city on the Adriatic coast is like a giant maze with tiny alleys and hidden piazzas linked by narrow foot bridges over 400 large and small canals. It is with good reason that Venetians call their city “La Serenissima” (the most serene).
Venice awakes each morning with a refreshing absence of speeding cars, and roaring mopeds. We arrive by boat, in St. Mark’s Square. We visit St. Mark’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Venetian – Byzantine architecture built in 830 to shelter the tomb of St. Mark. We see the marble Ducal Palace, and the famous “Bridge of Sighs”. On foot is the best way to explore Venice.
Perhaps we might take on optional “Gondola Ride” across the “Grand Canal” or walk on the Rialto Bridge and visit the market.
To experience the real Venice head towards the side streets to “Strada Nova” and we’ll see how Venice’s citizens live and shop.
Return to Padua for overnight.
After breakfast and according to flight time departure, we will have the opportunity to visit Milan.
Milan is the commercial capital of Northern Italy and the world capital of Design and Fashion.
We visit the magnificent Duomo which represents the “Heart of Milan.” Its Gothic Vaults are the highest in the world. It has also the world’s largest collection of marble statues. We visit the oldest shopping mall in the world, the glass-domed “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II” which extends from the Duomo to Piazza Della Scala. La Scala is the world’s premiere opera house. Within a short walk we view the imposing Sforzesco Castle.
Transfer to the airport for our flight home.
End of services.
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